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Winnie Ille Pu: The Latin Versions of 10 Modern Stories

Despite its status as a "dead" language, pretty much anything can be translated into Latin. Here are 10 modern classics that might make Latin class more fun.

1. Winnie the Pooh

A Latin translation of Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne, was published for the first time in 1960. Alexander Lenard, the translator, was also a physician, painter, musician, and poet, but he is most famous for Winnie Ille Pu. The book is the only Latin book to become a New York Times best seller – it remained on the NY Times list for 20 weeks.

First line: Ecce Eduardus Ursus scalis nunc tump-tump-tump occipite gradus pulsante post Christophorum Robinum descendens.

Milne's second volume of Winnie the Pooh stories, The House at Pooh Corner, was originally translated by Brian Staples just for fun. The former Latin student was laid up in the hospital and needed a diversion. The Latin translation, Winnie Ille Pu Semper Ludet, was first published in 1980. Sixteen years later, in April 1996, both Christopher Milne (A.A. Milne's son, for whom the books were written) and Brian Staples passed away.

First line: Die quodam, cum Urso Puo nihil aliud agendum esset, decrevit aliquid agere, Porcelli domum igitur abiit, quid ageret Porcellus speculatum.

2. Olivia


Ian Falconer's Olivia was translated into Latin by Amy High, a Latin educator and enthusiast. As an elementary school Latin teacher in Fairfax County, VA, High was featured in TIME magazine and on the Oxygen cable channel. Upon her untimely death at the age of 39, in 2003, a former professor remarked, "She gave Latin a life it hasn't had in hundreds of years." High's translation, Olivia: The Essential Latin Edition, features Olivia in a toga and laurel wreath.

First line: Haec est Olivia. Perita est multarum rerum.

3. The Three Blind Mice


David C. Noe's Tres Mures Caeci, a Latin translation of "Three Blind Mice," was designed to ease young readers into Latin. The book features illustrations by cartoonist Michelle Thoburn, a veteran of the Walt Disney Company, and is complemented by free downloads of the story read in both English and Latin.

First line: Olim erant Tres Mures Caeci.

4. Walter the Farting Dog

For Walter Canis Inflatus, Robert Dobbin had to get creative with his Latin translations, as many of the phrases found in William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray's Walter the Farting Dog lack classical Latin counterparts. The story is accompanied by the same Audrey Colman illustrations found in the original English version.

First line: Betty et Billy Walterum domum adduxerunt electum ex ceteris canibus foras abiectis.

5. Ferdinand the Bull

Munro Leaf's The Story of Ferdinand became a Disney animated film only two years after its publication, winning a 1938 Academy Award, but it wasn't until 2000 that the beloved story of Ferdinand the bull was translated into Latin. Ferdinandus Taurus, the Latin translation by Elizabeth Hadas, features the original black and white illustrations by Robert Lawson, who was the first person to receive both the Caldecott Medal (1941) and the Newbery Medal (1945).

First line: Olim in Hispania erat taurulus nomine Ferdinandus.

6. Harry Potter

For J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (aka Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Latin is just one of the more than 65 languages they've been translated into. At the hands of Peter Needham, a retired Latin professor from Eton College, the books became Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis and Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum. Rowling's hope for the Latin and ancient Greek translations is that they "will help children overcome the common dread of studying the two dead languages."

First line: Dominus et Domina Dursley, qui vivebant in aedibus Gestationis Lingustrorum numero quattuor signatis, non sine superbia dicebant se ratione ordinaria vivendi uti neque se paenitere illius rationis. (from Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis)

7. The Little Prince


A Latin version of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince was released in 2000 as simply Regulus. The French masterpiece was translated into Latin by Richard Howard, a professor at Columbia University who has won a Pulitzer Prize for his poetry and was named a Chevalier (knight) of L'Ordre National du Mérite (the French National Order of Merit).

First line: QUODAM DIE, cum sex annos natus essem, imaginem praeclare pictam in libro de silva quae integra dicitur vidi; qui liber inscribebatur: Narratiunculae a vita ductae.

8-10. Dr. Seuss Tales

Translating rhyming works is always a challenge, but Jennifer and Terence Tunberg have succeeded in translating three Dr. Seuss works into Latin while retaining the word play of the originals. How the Grinch Stole Christmas became Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit, The Cat in the Hat became Cattus Petasatus, and Green Eggs and Ham became Virent Ova! Viret Perna!!. Don't let the originals fool you, though – the stories are not quite on the same beginner level in Latin as in English.

First lines:

Laetuli Laetopoli florentes festo Christi natalicio valde delectati sunt omnes ad unum….
(from Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit)

Imber totum diem fluit / Urceatim semper pluit. (from Cattus Petastus)

Sum 'Pincerna' nominatus… (from Virent Ova! Viret Perna!!)

* By "modern," we mean anything after Latin ceased to be anyone's native tongue. Our examples are from the last 200 years.

What's the most interesting thing you've read in Latin? Or, what do you wish you could've read in your Latin class?

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Little Women
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Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is one of the world's most beloved novels, and now—nearly 150 years after its original publication—it's capturing yet another generation of readers, thanks in part to Masterpiece's new small-screen adaptation. Whether it's been days or years since you've last read it, here are 10 things you might not know about Alcott's classic tale of family and friendship.

1. LOUISA MAY ALCOTT DIDN'T WANT TO WRITE LITTLE WOMEN.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Louisa May Alcott was writing both literature and pulp fiction (sample title: Pauline's Passion and Punishment) when Thomas Niles, the editor at Roberts Brothers Publishing, approached her about writing a book for girls. Alcott said she would try, but she wasn’t all that interested, later calling such books “moral pap for the young.”

When it became clear Alcott was stalling, Niles offered a publishing contract to her father, Bronson Alcott. Although Bronson was a well-known thinker who was friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, his work never achieved much acclaim. When it became clear that Bronson would have an opportunity to publish a new book if Louisa started her girls' story, she caved in to the pressure.

2. LITTLE WOMEN TOOK JUST 10 WEEKS TO WRITE.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Alcott began writing the book in May 1868. She worked on it day and night, becoming so consumed with it that she sometimes forgot to eat or sleep. On July 15, she sent all 402 pages to her editor. In September, a mere four months after starting the book, Little Women was published. It became an instant best seller and turned Alcott into a rich and famous woman.

3. THE BOOK AS WE KNOW IT WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN TWO PARTS.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

The first half was published in 1868 as Little Women: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. The Story Of Their Lives. A Girl’s Book. It ended with John Brooke proposing marriage to Meg. In 1869, Alcott published Good Wives, the second half of the book. It, too, only took a few months to write.

4. MEG, BETH, AND AMY WERE BASED ON ALCOTT'S SISTERS.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Meg was based on Louisa’s sister Anna, who fell in love with her husband John Bridge Pratt while performing opposite him in a play. The description of Meg’s wedding in the novel is supposedly based on Anna’s actual wedding.

Beth was based on Lizzie, who died from scarlet fever at age 23. Like Beth, Lizzie caught the illness from a poor family her mother was helping.

Amy was based on May (Amy is an anagram of May), an artist who lived in Europe. In fact, May—who died in childbirth at age 39—was the first woman to exhibit paintings in the Paris Salon.

Jo, of course, is based on Alcott herself.

5. LIKE THE MARCH FAMILY, THE ALCOTTS KNEW POVERTY.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Bronson Alcott’s philosophical ideals made it difficult for him to find employment—for example, as a socialist, he wouldn't work for wages—so the family survived on handouts from friends and neighbors. At times during Louisa’s childhood, there was nothing to eat but bread, water, and the occasional apple.

When she got older, Alcott worked as a paid companion and governess, like Jo does in the novel, and sold “sensation” stories to help pay the bills. She also took on menial jobs, working as a seamstress, a laundress, and a servant. Even as a child, Alcott wanted to help her family escape poverty, something Little Women made possible.

6. ALCOTT REFUSED TO HAVE JO MARRY LAURIE.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Alcott, who never married herself, wanted Jo to remain unmarried, too. But while she was working on the second half of Little Women, fans were clamoring for Jo to marry the boy next door, Laurie. “Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that was the only aim and end of a woman’s life," Alcott wrote in her journal. "I won’t marry Jo to Laurie to please anyone.”

As a compromise—or to spite her fans—Alcott married Jo to the decidedly unromantic Professor Bhaer. Laurie ends up with Amy.

7. THERE ARE LOTS OF THEORIES ABOUT WHO LAURIE WAS BASED ON.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

People have theorized Laurie was inspired by everyone from Thoreau to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s son Julian, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. In 1865, while in Europe, Alcott met a Polish musician named Ladislas Wisniewski, whom Alcott nicknamed Laddie. The flirtation between Laddie and Alcott culminated in them spending two weeks together in Paris, alone. According to biographer Harriet Reisen, Alcott later modeled Laurie after Laddie.

How far did the Alcott/Laddie affair go? It’s hard to say, as Alcott later crossed out the section of her diary referring to the romance. In the margin, she wrote, “couldn’t be.”

8. YOU CAN STILL VISIT ORCHARD HOUSE, WHERE ALCOTT WROTE LITTLE WOMEN.

Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts was the Alcott family home. In 1868, Louisa reluctantly left her Boston apartment to write Little Women there. Today, you can tour this house and see May’s drawings on the walls, as well as the small writing desk that Bronson built for Louisa to use.

9. LITTLE WOMEN HAS BEEN ADAPTED A NUMBER OF TIMES.

In addition to a 1958 TV series, multiple Broadway plays, a musical, a ballet, and an opera, Little Women has been made into more than a half-dozen movies. The most famous are the 1933 version starring Katharine Hepburn, the 1949 version starring June Allyson (with Elizabeth Taylor as Amy), and the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder. Later this year, Clare Niederpruem's modern retelling of the story is scheduled to arrive in movie theaters. It's also been adapted for the small screen a number of times, most recently for PBS's Masterpiece, by Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas.

10. IN 1980, A JAPANESE ANIME VERSION OF LITTLE WOMEN WAS RELEASED.

In 1987, Japan made an anime version of Little Women that ran for 48 half-hour episodes. Watch the first two episodes above.

Additional Resources:
Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography; Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women; Louisa May Alcott's Journals; Little Women; Alcott Film; C-Span; LouisaMayAlcott.org.

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LaGuardia Airport Is Serving Up Personalized Short Stories to Passengers
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In between purchasing a neck pillow and a bag full of snacks, guests flying out of the Marine Air Terminal at New York City's LaGuardia Airport can now order up an impromptu short story. As Hyperallergic reports, Landing Pages is an art project that connects writers to travelers looking for short fiction written in the time it takes to reach their destination.

The kiosk was set up as part of the ArtPort Residency, a new collaboration between the Queens Council on the Arts and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which sponsors different art projects at the Marine Air Terminal for a few months at a time.

Artists Lexie Smith and Gideon Jacobs set up the inaugural project at the terminal earlier this month. To request a story from Landing Pages, travelers can visit the kiosk and leave their flight number and contact information. While the passenger is in the air, Smith and Jacobs churn out a custom story, in the form of poetry, illustration, or prose, from their airport terminal workspace and send it out in time for it to reach the reader's phone before he or she lands.

The word count depends on the duration of the flight, and the subject matter often touches upon themes of travel and adventure. As Smith and Jacobs continue their residency through June 30, the pieces they complete will be made available at Landingpages.nyc and in hard copy form at the airport kiosk.

Landing Pages isn't the first airport service to offer à la carte short stories. In 2011, a French startup debuted its short story-dispensing vending machine at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport. Those stories come in three categories—one-minute, three-minute, and five-minute reads—and are printed out immediately so travelers can read them during their flight.

[h/t Hyperallergic]

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