"Deo Volente" means "God Willing"


Latin Grandad Letter   Latin Grandad Report
Jackie Jura's grandfather's letter to parents & report card

To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie Jura,

A couple of years ago I decided to translate 'Animal Farm' into Latin, but I have yet to get a reply from anyone in the UK on a grant of right of translation. I suppose that I could publish, and wait for the heavens to open when they find out, but I'd rather do it the legal way.

For a few years now, I have published translations into Latin via my website PHASELUS. You will also find some of my current work in the Latin newspaper 'Ephemeris' and reviews at various other internet sites.

Yours sincerely,
Tom Cotton

Greetings Tom,

I think it's appropriate that ANIMAL FARM be translated into Latin, especially since it is a language that Orwell spoke and wrote (although if I recall he didn't like studying it in school). Orwell actually spoke EIGHT (count them, '8') foreign languages (a little known fact that impresses me greatly but about which he was - as usual - humble). They are:

Greek, Latin, Burmese, Hindustan, Shaw-Karen, French, Spanish and Catalan

Orwell used Latin terms in his writing and personal letters, e.g. ('exempli gratia' - meaning "for example" in Latin), he often interjected the initials "D.V." ('Deo Volente' - meaning "God Willing" in Latin) in between phrases (especially toward the end of his life).

On his deathbed Orwell was reading the Bodley Head's bi-lingual edition of Dante's THE DIVINE COMEDY which was the first time serious writing was attempted using a Latin dialect (Italian) instead of pure Latin.

I believe Orwell believed in an afterlife, as described in an entry found in his notebook written during his final hospitalization (from January 1949 to January 1950), excerpted from "George Orwell A Life" by Bernard Crick, page 401:

"Death Dreams"

Death Dreams very frequent throughout the past two years. Sometimes of the
sea or the sea shore or more often of enormous, splendid buildings or streets
or ships, in which I often lose my way, but always with a peculiar feeling of
happiness & of walking in sunlight. Unquestionably all these buildings etc.
mean death -- I am almost aware of this even in the dream, & these dreams
always become more frequent when my health gets worse & I begin to despair
of ever recovering. What I can never understand is why since I am not afraid
of death (afraid of pain & of the moment of dying, but not of extinction), this
thought has to appear in my dreams under these various disguises.
Cf. also my ever-recurrent fishing dream....

Notice Orwell used the Latin term "Cf." which is short for the word 'confer', meaning "compare"; and also the Latin term "etc." which is short for 'et cetera' which means "and so on".

My point in mentioning that Orwell had dreams of an afterlife, and that he understood Latin, is that if you go ahead and translate ANIMAL FARM into Latin, he would probably be aware and pleased.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

PS - My grandfather attended boarding school as a boy in England because his parents were serving the Empire in Africa and India and, like Orwell, he hated it. That is one of the reasons why, as soon as he came of age (18), he emigrated to Canada to take advantage of cheap homesteads being offered. He used to say he was a "poor student" and hated studying Latin when he would much rather be outside playing. Upon his death (at age 93) I inherited some of his leather writing cases and in one of them I found old report cards from boarding school and letters he dutifully wrote to his parents far away. Sometimes years went by before he saw them. Above is a copy of a letter (he's complaining about Latin) and a Report Card (showing his mark in Latin). The year is "1903" which is the year Orwell was born, at which time my grandfather was 9 years old. Below is a postcard anticipating his parents return home to England after a two-year duration, and below that is a photo of him (on our right) and his brother (my great uncle) in their schoolboy uniforms. This trip home was the last time my grandfather saw his parents (my great-grandparents) as his mother died in Poona, India in 1904 and his father died in Bombay, India in 1908.

Grandad Postcard   Grandad Postcard Back

Grandad Schoolboy

SUCH, SUCH WERE THE JOYS, by George Orwell
...The child and the adult live in different worlds. If that is so, we cannot be certain that school, at any rate boarding school, is not still for many children as dreadful an experience as it used to be. Take away God, Latin, the cane, class distinctions and sexual taboos, and the fear, the hatred, the snobbery and the misunderstanding might still all be there....Of one thing, however, I do feel fairly sure, and that is that boarding schools are worse than day schools. A child has a better chance with the sanctuary of its home near at hand. And I think the characteristic faults of the English upper and middle classes may be partly due to the practice, general until recently, of sending children away from home as young as nine, eight or even seven...



THE DIVINE COMEDY, by Dante Alighieri
...Of Dante's approach to this classic text, Benét's Reader's Encyclopedia (3rd edition) observes: "The cosmology, angelology and theology of the work are based firmly on the system of St. Thomas Aquinas, but Dante considered the Church of his time a 'harlot' no longer serving God -- he meets seven popes in the Inferno, for instance -- and was therefore frequently considered a heretic. The characters whom Dante meets on his journey are drawn largely from ancient Roman history and from recent and contemporary Italian history, including Dante's personal friends and enemies; their vivid portraiture and the constant allusions to human affairs make the work, although in structure a description of the Beyond, actually a realistic picture and intensely involved analysis of every aspect of earthly human life. Dante's literal journey is also an allegory of the progress of the individual soul toward God and the progress of political and social mankind toward peace on earth; it is a compassionate, although moral, evaluation of human nature and a mystic vision of the Absolute toward which it strives. Thus the universality of the drama and the lyric vigor of the poetry are far more important than the specific doctrinal content."

The Divine Comedy is also important for its place in the history of the development of the Italian language. Dante opposed the assumptions of his day that prescribed Latin as the only appropriate language for serious writing. He advocated the use of a courtly Italian enriched with the best of every spoken dialect to form a serious literary language. This would help to unify the separated Italian territories by the creation of a national culture, an end to which Dante strived his entire life. While falling short of his goal of unification, Dante did use his native Tuscan as a basis for several of his works, including The Divine Comedy. The impact of his work upon the culture of the Italian peninsula helped to establish his Tuscan dialect as the ancestor of modern Italian.

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com