CLOSE
Original image

Winnie Ille Pu: The Latin Versions of 10 Modern Stories

Original image

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?

Original image
Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Warner Bros.
arrow
literature
10 Terrific Facts About Stephen King
Original image
Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Warner Bros.

As if being one of the world's most successful and prolific writers wasn't already reason enough to celebrate, Stephen King is ringing in his birthday as the toast of Hollywood. As It continues to break box office records, we're digging into the horror master's past. Here are 10 things you might not have known about Stephen King, who turns 70 years old today.

1. STEPHEN KING AND HIS WIFE, TABITHA, OWN A RADIO STATION.

Stephen and Tabitha King own Zone Radio, a company that serves to head their three radio stations in Maine. One of them, WKIT, is a classic rock station that goes by the tagline "Stephen King's Rock Station."

2. HE'S A HARDCORE RED SOX FAN.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Not only did he write a story about the Boston Red Sox—The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (who was a former Red Sox pitcher)—he also had a cameo in the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie Fever Pitch, which is about a crazed Sox fan. He plays himself and throws out the first pitch at a game.

In 2004, King and Stewart O'Nan, another novelist, chronicled their reactions to the season that finally brought the World Series title back to Beantown. It's appropriately titled Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season.

3. HE WAS HIT BY A CAR, THEN BOUGHT THE CAR THAT HIT HIM.

You probably remember that King was hit by a van not far from his summer home in Maine in 1999. The incident left King with a collapsed lung, multiple fractures to his hip and leg, and a gash to the head. Afterward, King and his lawyer bought the van for $1500 with King announcing that, "Yes, we've got the van, and I'm going to take a sledgehammer and beat it!"

4. AS A KID, HIS FRIEND WAS STRUCK AND KILLED BY A TRAIN.

King's brain seems to be able to create chilling stories at such an amazing clip, yet he's seen his fair share of horror in real life. In addition to the aforementioned car accident, when King was just a kid his friend was struck and killed by a train (a plot line that made it into his story "The Body," which was adapted into Stand By Me). While it would be easy to assume that this incident informed much of King's writing, the author claims to have no memory of the event:

"According to Mom, I had gone off to play at a neighbor’s house—a house that was near a railroad line. About an hour after I left I came back (she said), as white as a ghost. I would not speak for the rest of the day; I would not tell her why I’d not waited to be picked up or phoned that I wanted to come home; I would not tell her why my chum’s mom hadn’t walked me back but had allowed me to come alone.

"It turned out that the kid I had been playing with had been run over by a freight train while playing on or crossing the tracks (years later, my mother told me they had picked up the pieces in a wicker basket). My mom never knew if I had been near him when it happened, if it had occurred before I even arrived, or if I had wandered away after it happened. Perhaps she had her own ideas on the subject. But as I’ve said, I have no memory of the incident at all; only of having been told about it some years after the fact."

5. HE WROTE A MUSICAL WITH JOHN MELLENCAMP.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

King, John Mellencamp, and T Bone Burnett collaborated on a musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, which made its debut in 2012. The story is based on a house that Mellencamp bought in Indiana that came complete with a ghost story. Legend has it that three siblings were messing around in the woods and one of the brothers accidentally got shot. The surviving brother and sister jumped in the car to go get help, and in their panic, swerved off the road right into a tree and were killed instantly. Of course, the three now haunt the woods by Mellencamp's house.

6. HE PLAYED IN A BAND WITH OTHER SUCCESSFUL AUTHORS.

King played rhythm guitar for a band made up of successful writers called The Rock Bottom Remainders. From 1992 to 2012, the band "toured" about once a year. In addition to King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Barbara Kingsolver, Matt Groening and Ridley Pearson were just some of its other members.

7. HE'S A NATIVE MAINER.

A photo of Stephen King's home in Bangor, Maine.
By Julia Ess - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

King writes about Maine a lot because he knows and loves The Pine Tree State: he was born there, grew up there, and still lives there (in Bangor). Castle Rock, Derry, and Jerusalem's Lot—the fictional towns he has written about in his books—are just products of King's imagination, but he can tell you exactly where in the state they would be if they were real.

8. HE HAS BATTLED DRUG AND ALCOHOL PROBLEMS.

Throughout much of the 1980s, King struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. In discussing this time, he admitted that, "There's one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing at all. I don't say that with pride or shame, only with a vague sense of sorrow and loss. I like that book. I wish I could remember enjoying the good parts as I put them down on the page."

It came to a head when his family members staged an intervention and confronted him with drug paraphernalia they had collected from his trash can. It was the eye-opener King needed; he got help and has been sober ever since.

9. THERE WAS A RUMOR THAT HE WROTE A LOST TIE-IN NOVEL.

King was an avid Lost fan and sometimes wrote about the show in his Entertainment Weekly column, "The Pop of King." The admiration was mutual. Lost's writers mentioned that King was a major influence in their work. There was a lot of speculation that he was the man behind Bad Twin, a Lost tie-in mystery, but he debunked that rumor.

10. HE IS SURROUNDED BY WRITERS.

A photo of Stephen King's son, author Joe Hill
Joe Hill
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Stephen isn't the only writer in the King family: His wife, Tabitha King, has published several novels. Joe, their oldest son, followed in his dad's footsteps and is a bestselling horror writer (he writes under the pen name Joe Hill). Youngest child Owen has written a collection of short stories and one novella and he and his dad co-wrote Sleeping Beauties, which will be released later this month (Owen also married a writer). Naomi, the only King daughter, is a minister and gay activist.

Original image
Wikimedia Commons
arrow
literature
10 Things You Might Not Know About J.D. Salinger
Original image
Wikimedia Commons

For the past few decades, if any artist has been celebrated for a slim body of work and subsequently disappeared from public view, they’ve invited comparison to Jerome David (J.D.) Salinger. The author (1919-2010) published only one novel in his lifetime, 1951’s The Catcher in the Rye—but what a novel it was. A bildungsroman (coming of age) story about an aimless young man named Holden Caulfield on a mission to find himself after being expelled from a private school, The Catcher in the Rye ushered in a new era of philosophical literature, becoming a staple of classrooms across the country.

A new film about Salinger, Danny Strong's Rebel in the Rye, is once again stirring interest in the reclusive artist. If you’re a little light on Salinger trivia, check out some facts about his war experiences, his disappointing fling with Hollywood, and one curious choice of beverage.

1. HE WORKED ON THE CATCHER IN THE RYE WHILE FIGHTING IN WORLD WAR II.

Salinger was a restless student, attending New York University, Ursinus College, and Columbia University in succession. While taking night classes at the latter, he met Whit Burnett, a professor who also edited Story magazine. Sensing Salinger’s talent for language, Burnett encouraged him to pursue his fiction. When World War II broke out, Salinger was drafted into the Army. During his service from 1942 to 1944, he worked on chapters for what would later become The Catcher in the Rye, keeping pages on his person even when marching into battle.

2. HE HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.

Following his service, Salinger experienced what would later be labeled post-traumatic stress disorder: He was hospitalized after suffering a nervous breakdown in Nuremburg in 1945 after seeing some very bloody battles on D-Day and in Luxembourg. Writing to Ernest Hemingway, whom he had met while the latter was a war correspondent for Collier’s, he said his despondent state had been constant and he sought out help “before it got out of hand.”

3. HE REFUSED TO BE REWRITTEN.

Settling back in New York after the war, Salinger continued to write, contributing short stories to The New Yorker and other outlets before finishing The Catcher in the Rye. In literary circles, his name was already becoming known for insisting that editors not change a single word of his writing. When publisher Harcourt Brace agreed to publish The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger broke away from the deal after they insisted on rewrites. The untouched book was eventually released by Little, Brown and Company.

4. THE NEW YORKER DECLINED TO PRINT A CATCHER IN THE RYE EXCERPT.

A supply of Catcher in the Rye copies by author J.D. Salinger
Getty Images

Despite having published stories in The New Yorker previously, Salinger was dismayed to discover that the magazine wasn’t very supportive of his novel debut. Getting an advance copy of the book in the hopes they would run an excerpt, editors said the book's characters were “unbelievable” and declined to run any of it.

5. HE DID GIVE ONE INTERVIEW ... TO A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT.

Early on, it became apparent that Salinger wasn’t going to embrace whatever celebrity The Catcher in the Rye brought to his doorstep. He insisted that Little, Brown not run an author’s photo on the book’s dust jacket and turned down any opportunities to publicize it—with one exception. After moving to New Hampshire, Salinger agreed to give an interview to a local high school paper, The Claremont Daily Eagle. Salinger was later dismayed to find out an editor wound up putting it on the front page of the local paper. Annoyed and feeling betrayed, he put up a six-foot, six-inch tall fence around his property, further walling himself off from prying eyes.

6. HE DID WIND UP SELLING A MOVIE IDEA.

Although his most celebrated work has been kept offscreen, Salinger did have a brief courtship with Hollywood. In 1948, producer Darryl Zanuck purchased the rights to one of his short stories, “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut.” Released as My Foolish Heart in 1949, it earned actress Susan Hayward an Oscar nomination (plus a second one for Best Original Song). Salinger reportedly hated it.

7. HE SUED HIS BIOGRAPHER.

Choosing a difficult subject to profile, author Ian Hamilton insisted on pursuing a biography of Salinger in the 1980s. Salinger was so peeved he sued Hamilton to prevent him from using excerpts of unpublished letters. A Supreme Court ruling gave him a victory, barring Hamilton from using the passages. Hamilton later wrote a book, 1988's In Search of J.D. Salinger, an account of his own legal dealings with Salinger.

8. HE PROBABLY DRANK HIS OWN PEE.

By Time Inc., illustration by Robert Vickrey. Time Magazine Archive - National Portrait Gallery Collection, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Salinger’s reclusive habits made him easy prey for a litany of rumors, but some of his more intriguing habits were disclosed by his daughter, Margaret, in a memoir that described her father as speaking in tongues and occasionally sipping his own urine. That practice, called urophagia, is said to have health benefits, although no reputable studies have been able to demonstrate as much.

9. HE ALWAYS LOATHED THE IDEA OF A CATCHER IN THE RYE MOVIE.

With its persistent interior monologues, The Catcher in the Rye might be almost unfilmable—but that hasn’t stopped directors as revered as Billy Wilder and Steven Spielberg from trying. Throughout his life, Salinger famously rebuffed any attempt to purchase the rights to make a film from his book, but did leave open a small possibility that it could possibly happen after he died. “It pleasures me to no end, though,” he once wrote, “to know that I won’t have to see the results of the transaction.” (The Salinger estate has yet to disclose whether they would seek to prevent an adaptation.)

10. A CARTOONIST WON A RESIDENCY AT HIS HOUSE.

In late 2016, the Cornish Center for Cartoon Studies Residency Fellowship accepted applications for cartoonists who wished to live in a one-bedroom apartment above the garage of Salinger’s former residence in Cornish, New Hampshire. The fellowship was granted so the winner could have a place to focus and produce “exceptional work.” The CCS repeated the offer this year, with a guest due to move in on October 16. Harry Bliss, a cartoonist for The New Yorker, is the current owner of the property.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios