Also today had a long phone call about an interesting little project that I certainly hope comes off; more about this as things develop.
And finally today in the mail arrived HOBBITVS ILLE, the new Latin translation of THE HOBBIT by Mark Walker. I'd gotten to see this for the first time when we visited HarperCollins one of our last days in London and got to see Chris Smith (my editor, to whom I'll always be grateful for his patience over MR. BAGGINS) and to meet David Brawn, the grey eminence of Tolkien publishing. We arrived at the HC offices a little early, which meant I had a chance to look at the big display of just-published books, among which were three copies of the Latin HOBBIT -- two of which were marked "not for sale", wh. immediately raised my hopes that I might be able to purchase the third. Alas no, but David Brawn very kindly arranged to have me sent a copy, for which I am grateful.
For those who haven't seen this yet, it's along the lines of WINNIE ILLE PU: a classic of children's literature translated into Latin. I know they've also done this with ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and the back of the book carries an advertisement for URSUS NOMINE PADDINGTON (which I don't think anyone'll need me to translate for them); it wdn't surprise me if WIND IN THE WILLOWS hadn't gotten the Latin treatment at some point. I'm not much of a Latinist, but I know I'll be amusing myself for some time to come seeing how familiar passages in THE HOBBIT came out in Walker's translation. Here, for example, is part of Gollum-talk, from the chapter AEnigmata in Tenebris:
post nonnullum tempus Gollum secum laetus sibilauit:
"est bonum, mi pretiossse? est sucosum? est gustandum ad mordendum?"
e tenebris Bilbonem aspiciebat.
Even on a first look, have to say I'm impressed to see they've fixed the runes on the title page to correspond to the Latin title, rather than reprinting the English text in runes. They've also done the same with the two runic inscriptions on Thror's Map ("Tabula Geographica Throris"), replacing the originals with Tolkienesque runes which I presume match the new Latin text.
But best of all is its cover, which reproduces Tolkien's wonderful painting "Conversation with Smaug" transformed into a mosaic. A better analogy for what the book itself does, reproducing the familiar in a new fashion that simulates something v. old, wd be hard to find: nicely done.
P.S.: Janice says: They should get the artist who did this cover for their next Calendar!