Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Translating the Hobbit...Into Latin

That's what someone did.

From a piece on the Huffington Post...

There is, as anyone who has taken the trouble to study Latin knows, a curious gap in the available reading material. On the one hand are simplified stories for classroom use, on the other the glories of high Latin literature -- but remarkably little in between. What is there for the intermediate reader, who is tired of the textbook but not quite ready to grapple with the stately poetry of Virgil or the grand rhetoric of Cicero? What for the accomplished reader who wants to escape from Ancient Rome's marbled halls from time to time? What for the reader who just wants to read Latin -- the very idea! -- for fun? 

This is where the Latin Hobbit comes in. It is nothing more or less than a novel -- but a novel now in Latin. Which is to say, it is a Latin text whose principal aim is to be read solely for the pleasure of reading, not one to be studied with the aid of copious editorial notes, or laboured over in order to glean hard-won quotations for an essay assignment. Reading for pleasure is a rare experience for Latinists, who, in my opinion, deserve to enjoy themselves as much as anyone else.

Happily, Tolkien's immortal story lends itself to such a Latin translation: the sentences are generally short, the sense is always clear, the story is easy to follow. Tolkien's perspicuous prose and the clarity of his exposition are a gift to any translator.

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