Indomitable Gauls

Written by Simon Renfrew

It’s both refreshing and unusual to see your taxes spent on something worthwhile – and our local bibliotheque is a case in point. Built from scratch between two old houses at the bottom end of town, Monpazier’s public library is aimed primarily at a younger audience, has a glitzy lift and loads of glass walls (the better to smear with grubby little fingers).

All the more surprising then that amongst the well thumbed ‘Spot suivre le ballon rouge’ type books, lurk some less appropriate ‘Bande dessinées’.

As a nation, the French love comic books – Asterix, Lucky Luke and Tintin are hugely popular. And who wouldn’t want to see legionnaires pummeled, baddy gunslingers disarmed and plucky young sleuths unmask criminal masterminds.

No, it’s the more risqué ‘exploding martian boob wars / medieval grunge’ genres that are the problem and have no real place on the shelves (or at least those in grabbing distance of 5 year old hands). There really is the most fantastic amount of finely drawn decapitation, disemboweling, disease and general mayhem in these books. And absolutely acres of unfeasibly contoured female flesh too – in short, not ideal bedtime reading.

But perhaps that’s just a stiff collared northern European view, especially given the more relaxed approach most continental countries have to sex, bodily functions and keeping les petites sheltered from it all. And there are some gems amongst the dross – my personal favourite being the story of the mole who, pushing his way to the surface is crapped on. He then spends the remainder of the book interrogating every animal in the farmyard to find the culprit and, when he does, returns the favour.  A classic tale of retribution and revenge and a comprehensive guide to bovine, equine and porcine excrement. Perfect.

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