I was twice challenged on Facebook to post a book cover per day for a period of days. I forget if it was 7 books in 7 days or 10 in 10. I chose 10. I think they were supposed to be influential and not just favourites, so I sought books that have influenced me. Allow me to write some musings on them, one by one…
Book No. 2: Ubi Fera Sunt by Maurice Sendak, translated by Richard A. Lafleur
When I posted the image of The Tale of Peter Rabbit on Facebook, someone commented, “Not the Latin version?” I only own three children’s books translated into Latin — Ubi Fera Sunt, Winnie-ille-Pu, and Hobbitus Ille. I had been planning on posting Where the Wild Things Are at some point, anyway, so I took the opportunity and posted its Latin translation as book no. 2.
First, Ubi Fera Sunt: This is a fun, enjoyable read. The Latin has a nice rhythm to it. I commend Lafleur for his work here, although I don’t know why “wild rumpus” was not translated as “rumpus ferox” or “ferox rumpus” or somesuch. My eldest son has enjoyed listening to it in the past, although last time he got frustrated when he asked me to take it down from the bookcase, and it turned out not to be in English!
So then he got the English version.
So, Where the Wild Things Are. I have fond memories of liking this book as a child, although I have no memory of having read it until I was an undergrad. My childhood memories, in fact, are largely associated with my eldest brother, for some reason. Perhaps he was the owner of the book.
As I have written on this blog before, I like this book because it is absolute story, much as a Bach toccata is absolute music. There is no moral to the story. This is not a story about issues. It is, pure and simple, a story about a boy imagining things, except that they are presented as the prime events as the story and not really as imaginings.
Max’s imagination is not an escape from anything other than any child’s life. We do not need divorce or sadness of any kind for this story to work. We need little boys and girls and what they do when left alone in their rooms without supper. That is all.
Whether in English or Latin, I love this book. It is splendid, and it is a joy to share it with my sons.