Monday, January 22, 2018

Time Heals All Wounds—They Say

Time does heal all wounds. But time also exposes others that have gone unnoticed—such as an annoying ache that finally erupts into something serious, something that demands immediate attention. 

These opening lines are a bit dramatic for what I want to talk about: mistakes in a book; but the analogy is there—at least, so it occurred to me as I began rereading my translation of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer the other day. Suddenly I saw one typographical error after another! Enough time had passed to expose the mistakes: an n left off of non, an l carelessly dropped from nihil, a mistake in gender here, a mangled verb form there. What had I been thinking when I published my translation fourteen months ago? Had I thought it was perfect?

No, but I did think that the book was reasonably free of typos. But I was wrong.

As I reread my translation, I also came across sentences, which, although they were not incorrect, were a bit clumsy. After reading much more of Cicero and Seneca (whose Latin is refreshingly clear and concise), I began to see more clearly how Latin pares away what is non-essential. It is not as if Latin were like classical Chinese, but there is a certain economy of language that is essentially different from English style.

So, I have cleaned up the typos, straightened out the grammatical errors, ironed out the wrinkles, and changed the cover to red. A good choice perhaps, since I was a bit embarrassed when I realized what I had thought was 'good to go' was not.

But then tempus omnia vulnera sanat—even wounds to my pride.

If you purchased a copy of Pericla Thomae Sawyer before January 22, 2018, you may want to get the errata sheet I prepared, which you may print out and put in your copy. For an errata sheet write to James Rumford: email address:

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