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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Infectis rebus abeo, 26 April 2006
This review is from: Milne & Lenard : Winnie Ille Pu (Hardcover)
I sing of a boy and a bear...

Perhaps Vergil would have opted for Pu (Pooh) rather than Aeneid had he the choice, and begun his tome not in the journey from Troy, but rather the journey around the forest.

I have this sitting next to books of equally interesting exercise, such as a translation of modern poetry into Old English. Likewise, Henry Beard's translations of various ordinary statements and phrases in Latin (and cat behaviours in to French) also sit next to this honoured tome.

When I returned from Britain and began to think in theological-training terms, I had to re-acquaint myself with Latin; for an exam I had to memorise one biblical passage, one passage from the Aeneid, and one passage of my choice. I chose Winnie Ille Pu, and, as it had not been excluded from the list, I was permitted this indulgence (I believe that the exam list now has a section of excluded works, including this one, more's the pity).

Do not be frightened off by the fact that this is a book in Latin. It is very accessible, and quite fun to read with the English version of Winnie-the-Pooh at its side. The Latin version has kept many of the original illustrations as well as the page layout forms, for example:

In English:

And then he got up, and said: 'And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it.' So he began to climb the tree.



and he


and he


and as he




a little


to himself.

It went

like this:

Isn't it funny

How a bear likes honey

Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

I wonder why he does?

In Latin:

Et nisus est


nisus est


nisus est


nisus est

et nitens carmen sic coepit canere:

Cur ursus clamat?

Cur adeo mel amat?

Burr, burr, burr

Quid est causae cur?

Statements sound much more grand in Latin: 'Ior mi,' dixit sollemniter, 'egomet, Winnie ille Pu, caudam tuam reperiam.' which means, 'Eeyore,' he said solemnly, 'I, Winnie-the-Pooh, will find your tail for you.'

This is a delightful romp through a language study. I have recommended this to friends who want an introduction to Latin, together with the Lingua Latina series, which uses a natural language method for instruction.

Alexander Lenard, the translator, obviously did a great labour of love here, and I agree with the Chicago Tribune's statement that this book 'does more to attract interest in Latin than Cicero, Caesar, and Virgil combined.' One wonders if the Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet will be translated into Latin to make them seem 'more philosophical; or indeed, will Winnie ille Pu be likewise translated into Sanskrit and other such languages? It is not uncommon that the entertaining use of language does more for language enrichment and interest than any academic or official push of the tongue. It is no mistake that the Welsh language effort incorporated cartoons from the beginning -- it is natural for people to respond to fun and lively things, and this kind of treatment can be rather tricky, in that the average reader might not be so consciously aware that education is going on...

Winnie-the-Pooh in Akkadian? Hmmm, I feel a Ph.D. dissertation topic coming on...

This work is no small endeavour, but rather a thorough and engaging translation of the entire Pooh story. From the start, when we are introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh, through to the adventures in the Tight Place (in angustias incurrit), when Piglet meets a heffalump (heffalumpum), meeting Kanga and Roo (Canga and Ru), the expedition to the North Pole (Palum Septentrionalem), and finally saying goodbye, the entire story and text is here. One can (as I do) set the Dell Yearling 60th Anniversary Version of Winnie-the-Pooh side-by-side with Winnie-ille-Pu and follow line by line the engaging story, which translates well into this one-time universal language. And why ever not? Surely if there is a story nearly universal appeal, it would be of dear Winnie.

As A.A. Milne was a graduate of the Westminster School (which is housed down the block from my old Parliamentary offices) and of Cambridge, he might consider the translation of his classic work into the classical language a signal honour, and one wonders if, given the fact that Milne studied classical languages himself, if he ever translated any pieces, however small, into those languages that every English schoolboy learns to hate and love.

The story leaves off with Christophorus Robinus heading off to bath (and presumably, bed) ...

Of course, being a person of small importance myself, I identify much more with Porcellus (Piglet) than Pu. I know the struggles against the clerical/hierarchical/academic heffalumpum, and as Pooh has given me a new language of consideration for such conditions, Pu has given me a bilingual command of that language.

Long live the Porcelli amicus!
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Review Details



Kurt Messick

Location: London, SW1

Top Reviewer Ranking: 11,097