René Goscinny
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Comics, 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 a cultural and brand semiotician, and co-principal of the agency SEMIOVOX LLC. He is editor and publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age sci-fi paperback imprint HILOBOOKS. He is author of (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY (2008) and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY (2011); and he is co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY (2007) and SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS (2012). With Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Tony Leone, Josh produced the popular family activities guides UNBORED (2012), UNBORED GAMES (2014), and UNBORED ADVENTURE (2015), not to mention two UNBORED activity kits from MindWare. In the ’00s, Josh was an editor and columnist for the BOSTON GLOBE's IDEAS section; in the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT. He was born and raised in Boston, where he lives with his wife and sons.