René Goscinny
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: HiLo Heroes


Unlike Baudrillard, Deleuze, and Foucault, exact contemporaries of his who were merely inspired by pop culture, the French-born postmodernist RENÉ GOSCINNY (1926-77) cranked the stuff out; Les Aventures d’Astérix, which he authored (and Albert Uderzo illustrated) from 1959-77, is the bestselling bande dessinée ever. It’s been asserted that Goscinny’s village of indomitable Gauls is a metaphor for French resistance to the Nazis; or that the villagers are paleoconservative Europeans thumbing their noses at American economic imperialism. Yet every child understands, at some level, that what Asterix actually depicts is a heterotopia in which fixed, universal categories and certainty (e.g., the Romans) will forever be stymied and sometimes K.O.’ed (“BIFF! BANG! TCHOC!”) by difference and anomaly — as represented by the recalcitrant, life-loving Gauls, which is to say the French and Belgians, and other Celtic types (the British cousin Anticlimax, the Spanish chief Huevos y Bacon) to whom we are introduced. Asterix is a wily trickster, Obelix a rotund peg who smashes his way free of every square hole. Over the course of 24 Goscinny-penned adventures, the duo turned the Enlightenment itself every which way but loose.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Wim Wenders |

READ MORE about members of the Postmodernist Generation (1924-33).



Joshua Glenn is an author, publisher, and semiotic analyst. He is co-author (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) of THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and co-author (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) of the family activities guide UNBORED and three forthcoming spinoffs, including UNBORED Games. He is editor of HILOBROW and publisher of the Radium Age science fiction imprint HiLoBooks. Also: Glenn manages a secretive online community known as the Hermenautic Circle; he is founding editor of the e-book club Save the Adventure; and he's a frequent co-host of Boing Boing's podcast GWEEK. In the ’00s, Glenn was an editor, columnist, and blogger for the Boston Globe's IDEAS section, he co-founded the international semiotics website SEMIONAUT, and contributed to CABINET, SLATE, and elsewhere. In the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT, worked as a dotcom and magazine editor, and contributed to THE BAFFLER, FEED, and elsewhere. His publishing company is King Mixer, LLC; and his semiotic analysis consultancy is Semiovox LLC. He lives in Boston with his wife and children.