Monday, March 28, 2016

A Walk on the Toronto Islands

On Easter weekend John and I decided to bike over to the Toronto Islands for a holiday excursion with our friend Shelley.

Fun to pull away from the shore.
We caught the 3 o'clock ferry to Wards Island on a sunny afternoon.
 A number of Toronto families had the same idea.
 A glimpse of the yacht club across from the Wards Island dock.
 We dropped in our our friend Q at her cottage and she suggested a hike into the woods.
 It reminded me of traditional Good Friday hikes of my youth.
 We emerged on the east side of the Islands with the lakers in the channel.
Lakeside moss.
 After a stroll along the quay we headed back into the brush.
 There was little visible sign of Spring other than the sun and relatively high temperatures.
 Birch trees amid the dogwood.
 Finally we arrived at the sandy beach on the north side of Ward's Island.
 This brave soul even tried wading. Brrrrrr!
A glance back along the beach 
 from the north side boardwalk.
 Then we headed south to cross the bridge to Algonquin Island.
 Algonquin has lovely cottages both big and small and mature trees
 as well as a great view of Toronto and its harbour.
The sun was setting as we caught the ferry back to the mainland. What a lovely Easter excursion!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How Not to Translate Apuleius

It is never too late to acquire a classical education, right? Bill and I have recently had a hankering to read some Latin literature.  We're visiting Rome in the spring and looking for some travel reading.

Browsing in a local bookstore, I picked up The Golden Ass by Apulieus.

Apuleius rang a bell. I don't know anything about him or this book but it sounded exactly like the kind of classical text I was looking for. But I was disappointed by the first line. After a paragraph of introduction I found this opening sentence: 

"I was on my way to Thessaly -- for on my mother's side our family goes back there, being proud to number among our ancestors the distinguished philosopher Plutarch and his nephew Sextus -- I was on my way, I say, to Thessaly on particular business." [translated by E. J. Kenney, 1998]

What an awkward sentence -- I had to read it twice in order to believe my eyes. I know who Plutarch is, but should I know who is Sextus is? Will I need to look him up in the notes? Will this book be full of obscure references like that? I'm the kind of reader who panics easily. I'm only on the first line and I'm panicking. 

So I was pleased to find a different edition a week later.  This one is translated by Robert Graves. Could be interesting.

Here's how Robert Graves translates the opening --

Business once took me to Thessaly, where my mother's family originated; I have, by the way, the distinction of being descended from the famous Plutarch. [trans. 1950]

Now this is a book I can read. "Originated" is so much better than "number among our ancestors". Sextus was obviously inessential. And who has not had business that took us somewhere? Could be the opening of a traditional ghost story.

Easy, colloquial, contemporary even. Very promising for the rest of the tale. This one is going in my bag.