Winnie Ille Pu is Alexander Lenard’s Latin translation of A.A. Milne’s children’s book about a fictional bear with the English name of Winnie-the-Pooh.
Winnie Ille Pu soared to #7 on the bestseller list for 1961, garnering the distinction of being the only work written in Latin to ever make The New York Times bestseller list.
Lenard was a refugee, Hungarian-born doctor who spent seven years working on the translation. Unable to find a publisher, he paid to have the first copies printed himself. Edwin McDowell did a retrospective on Lenard’s work for The New York Times in 1984.
Lenard’s translation has disappeared from public library shelves, but a paperback edition can be found online. It may also be available for some e-readers.
I won’t attempt to review Lenard’s work. I don’t do reviews of non-English books; my linguistic skills are barely enough to get me through the quoted foreign passages in a 1930s novel.
My own copies of the Milne children’s classics are in English. I dig them out about once a year and read them through again just for the fun of it. It you know only the Walt Disney version, you are missing out on a great read.
© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni