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HUMANITIES 421 CLASSICS Clive Harcourt Carruthers, who is Professor Emeritus of Classical Languages at McGill University, gave us the Latin translation of Alice in W onderland two years ago; now follows Through the Looking-Glass (Aliciae per Speculum Transitus, Macmillan, pp. viii, 135, $3.25) , a pleasing match for its predecessor except for the slightly taller format. The illustrations are those of Tenniel; perhaps in this volume they are reproduced a little less sharply (e.g., on pp. 29, 84) . At the price asked for the book, it represents extraordinary value. Professor Carruthers has been scrupulously careful to render, so far as human ingenuity will suffice, every gambol of thought or language in the elusive original. He has blenched at no difficulty such as Carroll's puns, in particular, might present, and he has often triumphed in this field: "I beg your pardon?" said Alice. '1t isn't respectable to beg," said the King. IrIgnosce mihi_" Alicia dicere coepit. "Quidquid fecisti, ignotum est," Rex dixit. ItA te posco veniam-" . . . ftCum iam adsis, venire non potes." Some puns of course are intractable: "The wind is so very strong here. It's as strong as soup." ("Aeque vehemens atque ius est" is hardly right.) Again: "Well, if she said 'Miss: and didn't say anything more:' the Gnat remarked, "of course you'd miss your lessons." This has to be done by "Si igitur 'Era' neque amplius quidquam dicat," Culex inquit, "profecto a dictatis tuis errare tibi liceat." A translator's ingenuity is taxed to the utmost in rendering passages like this: "And there's the Dragon-H y." "Look on the branch above your head," said the Gnat, "and there you'll find a Snap-dragon-Hy. Its body is made of plum-pudding, its wings of hollyleaves , and its head is a raisin burning in brandy." IIAnd what does it live on?" Alice asked, as before. IfFrumenty and mince-pie," the Gnat replied; uand it makes its nest in a Christmas-box." The Latin version runs as follows: "Est etium Calopteryx." IIRamum supra caput tuum contemplare," Culex inquit: Ilibi Calidoptcrygcm invenies. Truncus ei cx libo festo, alae ex ilicis foliis factae sunt, caputque acinus passus in vino ardens est." "Quo is vescitur?1> Alicia, ut prius, rogavit. 422 LEITERS IN CANADA ICPulticula et minutali," Culex responditi et nidum in fasciculo Saturnalico facit." Though the final pun has here evaded capture, one must admire the translator's eager attentiveness to possibilities of success. Professor Carruthers set himself a course full of obstacles when he undertook to latinize a text so cluttered with Victorian bric-a-brac as Carroll's; and inevitably there are things at which one may cavil. "But then the fun would be, trying to find the creature that had got myoId name!" is given thus: "Ridiculum quidem sit, si. ..." And (though this is a matter where one dares not disagree lightly with a former rowing man) does "palmas erige" (essentially "set erect") quite give the sense of "feather"? In the fourth stanza of the prefatory verses, it is hard to agree that Carroll's mock-solemn words in the first four lines give any warrant for "omne in aevum"; surely the serious note is struck only in the follOwing sentiment. Again, not all of us may feel that the Messenger, who merely "made the most fearful faces," deserves the epithet involved in "ore immani distorto," unless this should be one of the book's (commendably rare) misprints, standing for the adverb "immane" (on the lines of Virgil's "hians immane"). On p. 112, "hippopotamum inquirere" will hardly do for 'look for a hippopotamus." (The reading "iportere," for "oportere," is no doubt due to the same animal's presence.) In three matters Professor Carruthers has made decisions regretted by the reviewer. First, verse passages are done into accentual rhyming metre, except for Jabberwocky, which appears in elegiac couplets (though a rhymed accentual version appears as an appendix). This is a pity, because the accomplishment of translating them is largely robbed of a kind of scholarly appeal that many of the readers of this book will expect; the pleasure afforded by a clever or successful rendering into classical verse-forms...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 421-426
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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