Downtown Books will again be hosting a signing by Rick LaFleur of the “wildly” popular “Ubi Fera Sunt,” his translation into classical Latin of Maurice Sendak’s perennial best-seller, “Where the Wild Things Are.”
The signing will be at Downtown Books this Saturday, April 14, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Sendak’s original has been ranked #1 on Time magazine’s list of the top 100 children’s books of all time. LaFleur’s sprightly and lovingly wrought translation is a delightful read for anyone who knows even just a bit of Latin, or would like to, and for youngsters who may be encouraged to learn something about the language of ancient Rome, boost their English vocabulary, and have fun while they’re doing it.
Setting the English and Latin versions side-by-side and moving back and forth between the two presents a wonderful opportunity for learning a lot about both languages and their intimate connections.
About two-thirds of English comes from Latin, as even the new translation’s title suggests: UBI, meaning ”where” gives us UBIquitous, for something found everywhere; and FERA, meaning ”wild things” is source of FERocity and FERal, like the not-so-FERocious cats who stroll our Apalach avenues and alleys.
Numerous resources for the book are available free online, including a YouTube video of LaFleur’s lively reading at a recent signing.
LaFleur is retired as emeritus professor of Classics from the University of Georgia, which during his tenure, including 21 years as department head, came to have the largest Latin program of all U.S. colleges and universities. He has written the monthly column “The Secret Lives of Words” for the Apalachicola Times since 2014 and lives in Apalach much of the year with wife Alice Tipton LaFleur and their courageous French bulldog Ipsa (whose name is Latin for “Herself,” which she most certainly is).