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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Challenging and Rewarding
I confess I did not rate "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" very highly when I first read it some years ago in the original. I thought Rowling's writing, though inventive, rather disappointingly derivative, and I still find her style irritating at times. I reminded myself that this was probably to be expected from a book aimed primarily at children, and did not...
Published on 28 Oct 2005

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A worthy attempt
The idea of translating popular books into Latin is excellent, and this version is on the whole fluent and accurate. Or if it isn't, I am probably not equipped to challenge a senior Eton Latin master.

That said, the rendering does seem a little wooden and literal. All those plonking "dominus" (for Mr) and "Visli" (for Weasley) could be avoided by a more...
Published on 19 Jun 2007 by Sir Myles na Gopaleen (the da)


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Challenging and Rewarding, 28 Oct 2005
By A Customer
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This review is from: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) (Hardcover)
I confess I did not rate "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" very highly when I first read it some years ago in the original. I thought Rowling's writing, though inventive, rather disappointingly derivative, and I still find her style irritating at times. I reminded myself that this was probably to be expected from a book aimed primarily at children, and did not bother with the subsequent books, though I have enjoyed the films.
Now, years later, having been pestered and bullied into reading "Half Blood Prince" by my children. I find that, as they had been saying, JKR's writing has become, as one might expect, rather darker, rather more adult, and frankly quite grippingly exciting. I wanted to read all the books, but still needed a challenge to keep me engrossed.
Harrius Potter is exactly what the doctor ordered. My education in Latin finished at O-Level (for those non-English readers that's an OWL) some twenty-eight (gasp!) years ago, but because of my amazing teacher (thank you Mrs. Lear!) I had a deep love for the language, and have always found it very useful in understanding English, as a step-up to the comprehension of other Indo-European languages, and of course indispensable for a career in the medical world.
There are those who would say, it seems, that Peter Needham's translation is not "good Latin" or is too simple. I am unqualified to comment on the first observation, but as to the second, I'm finding it an absolute delight. It's not too easy for me, at least, and not over-difficult, however it is challenging enough for me to feel that I'm stretching myself and getting all those little grey cells buzzing. I'm thoroughly enjoying the book in a way that I did not enjoy it when reading it in English.
I would suggest that for any student of Latin at a moderately elementary level (years three to five, perhaps?) reading this translation would be valuable and rewarding. I've awarded it only four stars because I would have REALLY appreciated a glossary and perhaps an introduction from Peter Needham.
I imagine that there might be a few other rather people out there like me with rusty Latin whose idea of a fun way to pass a half-term holiday is translating "Harrius Potter et et Philosophi Lapis" back into English, as I have. My children think I am certifiably insane, but sunt sua quique vitia, et dies diem docet, if you'll pardon the cliche.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only this had been available when I was at school..., 19 July 2005
By 
pacem et amorem (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) (Hardcover)
If only this had been available when I was at school...
...I might have contemplated studying Latin longer than I did.
I only studied Latin for a couple of years and whilst I think my teacher would have liked me to continue to GCSE, I felt that there really wasn't much point - I wasn't going to be a doctor or a lawyer so I didn't need to study a 'dead' (for want of a better word!) language.
The textbooks we had at school, whilst teaching you about Roman society and history were not quite as exciting as a Harry Potter book (or even a Paddington or Winnie-the-Pooh book) would have been! Modern stories translated into Latin bring it much more to life - they make you want to read just like a book translated into French, Spanish or German!
I am deeply saddened that many schools do not even offer Latin anymore (I believe my old school has dispensed with the subject after the teacher retired). It seems a shame that such a valuable language as far as teaching the rudiments of grammar etc. should be abandoned. I am sure that translations of popular books would reawaken interest in the study of Latin.
I reckon my old teacher would be proud of me if she knew I had a copy of Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis - it might make up for forsaking her subject all those years ago!
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars liber splendidus!, 6 Jan 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (San Francisco) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) (Hardcover)
I received this book for Christmas and am dashing through it, enjoying it immensely. The translation is witty and extremely well done, though as a previous reviewer has mentioned, it could have benefited immensely from a vocabulary sheet with the most obscure/paraphrased words on it. (Perhaps an online collaboration to write such would be a good idea?) However, to anyone who's read the English "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", the translation will come easily as it is almost word-for-word. Therefore, readers, if you get stuck - check the English version!
Regarding the level of Latin, I would say that a GCSE student would have little trouble. The grammar is really not difficult, as most of the book is in the perfect and imperfect tenses; the vocabulary is the only stumbling block, as mentioned. If you read it by getting a 'feel' for the words and meaning, rather than trying to translate every single word, you will steam through it in no time. I personally have an A-level in Latin but that was gained three years ago and I've become extremely rusty since. A-level students, or Classics undergraduates, should not have problems at all.
All in all an excellent read and it would be terrific to use passages in a classroom setting; here's hoping there'll be a Latin revival!
Far more fun than Caesar.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A worthy attempt, 19 Jun 2007
This review is from: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) (Hardcover)
The idea of translating popular books into Latin is excellent, and this version is on the whole fluent and accurate. Or if it isn't, I am probably not equipped to challenge a senior Eton Latin master.

That said, the rendering does seem a little wooden and literal. All those plonking "dominus" (for Mr) and "Visli" (for Weasley) could be avoided by a more imaginative transposition into a Latin-speaking world: I'm told the Greek version fares rather better in this respect. One is occasionally reminded of the painful Latin dialogue in the film "Sebastiane", in which someone uses "excrementum" as a swear word. Worst, perhaps, is the point where Hagrid reveals "Harrie: tu es magus". That means "Harry; YOU (not someone else) are a wizard". The flavour of the original "yer a wizard" would be better rendered by "magus es". (Unless, of course, the translator is deliberately parodying "Tu es Petrus".) Nor can I believe that any Latin-speaker would have said "hic laetus, laetus dies".

The problem with all such work is that, no matter how much Latin one knows, one cannot avoid importing some flavour of one's native language; and unfortunately we can't ask an ancient Roman to proof-read! Perhaps every translation from English to Latin should be vetted by a professor of Latin from a non-English-speaking country, to eliminate any mere Anglicisms.

Still, as a teaching tool, and a reasonably easy read for someone with some knowledge of the language, well done.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable, 29 Dec 2005
This review is from: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) (Hardcover)
Having grown up with Harry Potter (and indeed whole piles of books I enjoyed less and whole piles of books I enjoyed more) and being in my 5th year as a latin student, I began reading this with much enthusiasm. I found, in general, the latin was pretty easy: well, I could understand most of it, and when I couldn't I could always return to the english version and compare. Saying that I would have apprichiated a small glossery of the less well-known words at the back, but overall was very pleased with what I got. Definately value for money, and it's a whole lot more fun to be able to quote passages from the book in latin than in english!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun but a bit too difficult for beginners, 19 Sep 2003
This review is from: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) (Hardcover)
This is an excellent idea, following on from the same translator's version of "Paddington Bear" (ISBN 0715629263). The initial inspiration for these modern translations was the classic "Winnie Ille Pu", which is well worth acquiring but sometimes a difficult read.

Unfortunately, none of these books, "Harrius Potter" included, come with a Latin-English vocabulary, which would have been especially useful in making sense of the various neologisms and circumlocutions the author has to use in order to force modern English into Latin.

For my part, I feel that complaints about the language not being sufficiently "Roman" are misplaced: there are no ancient models on which a translator could base their version, so Peter Needham is surely right to produce a grammatically correct translation that accurately reproduces the original.

And anyway, barring the invention of time machines, no ancient Romans are likely to be reading this anytime soon.

So, this is a fun book for the more advanced student (ie, post-GCSE level), but not one that younger students who are just being introduced to Latin will be able to read with much ease. Still, anything that makes learning Latin more fun can never be a bad thing!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for beginners..., 9 Feb 2004
By 
O., S. Mr "eltonjohn" (Kawasaki, Kanagawa Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) (Hardcover)
I entirely agree with the reviewer from Amersham.
True, the syntax the translator has used is not difficult. But the vocabulary is demanding for a (translation of) children's book. Hence four (4) stars.
I am not Latin illiterate, but I can't dispense with Latin-English dictionaries when reading the translation, which sometimes proves frustrating. I guess you can read it as you wish only when you have built up a vocabulary list of some five thousand (5,000) words "memoriter".
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight., 9 Jan 2007
This review is from: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) (Hardcover)
As a Latin student entering my fourth year, I did find this very challenging. However, as a lover of both the language and the story, it was a wonderful read. I found I could easily get the gist of it, and anything too difficult could be solved with a dictionary. This is truly the most enjoyable way to learn Latin!

Anyone rating it lower because it is 'too difficult' is being ridiculous. Would you review Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers and say the French is too hard for beginners? It isn't Peter Needham's fault if you can't speak Latin.

Favourite pick: page 77, the twins needling Percy for bragging over his prefect badge! Harry Potter is so much more fun when you can quote it in Latin.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potter et philosophi lapis, 17 Aug 2003
This review is from: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) (Hardcover)
This is an excellent introduction to Latin, and although the story is known, in Latin, it could become a good source for starting unseen translation. The Latin is concise and fluent {unlike some classical authors}; and it is a story that children enjoy. So what better introduction to Latin and the great treasury that this language holds, with adventure stories love stories in fact every genre that one could think of.
I reccomend this book whole heartidly and cannot wait to see it appear again in classical Greek.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many children's classics are translated into Latin, 3 Aug 2004
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is but one of the many children's classics that are translated into Latin. Naturally there are going to be people that will pick apart the book and say that is not correct form or syntax. Then again Harrius Potter has not been around that long. And pulling it apart is really part of the fun. Just remember that the translator Peter Needham taught classics at Eton for more than thirty years.
Let's face it, it is easer and more fun to read something you already know. Also it is fun to see how certain phrases and newer concepts are handled. Learning Latin this way also helps kids pass English tests in school by learning root concepts.
So all together now:
Dominus et Domina Dursley, qiu ...
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Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition)
Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Latin language edition) by J. K. Rowling (Hardcover - 7 July 2003)
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