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I am currently reading Golding’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Translators were seen differently then as they are today. Today, a translation must be “exactly what the source text is.” The translator is like a language scientist, passionlessly putting the words directly into our language. But, back in the day, all the translators were poets. And to translate was to take the source material and put it in today’s everyday language. So such a translator, if he existed today, would translate the ancient works into modern slang and verse. This is exactly what Golding did.
Golding has a special place among translators. His translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses was read widely in Renaissance England. He was the uncle to Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford (very important to those who know the Bard’s authorship debate). But most importantly, he was one of the primary sources Shakespeare relied on.
Reading Golding is very difficult. I might have to try speaking it or singing it to get through most of it. What is odd is that during this time period modern English was being invented. There was no set definition as to spell a word. So Golding just spells words however he likes. Years of reading idiotic text on the Internet has prepared me for Golding’s crazy word spellings. For example, the word drownzye is what we call drown. Hir would be her. And so on.
Since the language was in flux, what is fascinating is all the words that didn’t make it to our present day English. Since language is in another similar flux due to the Internet, I wonder if I could resurrect some of these words and add them to our lexicon of language. “No, Pook!” you say. “We have too many words! We don’t need more!” Alas, you are correct. Still, this is a tantalizing possibility.
Here is a sample of some of the ‘new’ words:
whewl – howl,
whine uppen – mention,
bring up quoath – faint
yesk – sob
awk – reversed, wrong
awkly – awkwardly
sprink – sprinkle
toot – gaze at
coll – embrace, hug (Latin, collum, neck)
queach – thicket, grove
ensue – follow
merry-go-down – strong drink
flacker – flutter, flap
orpid – fierce
hittymissy – hit or miss pook – elf, demon
bugg – monster, boogieman
frosh – frog
preasing – pressing
Yes, the word of Pook was already on Golding’s lips. Even Shakespeare knew of the Pook! However, I’m still unclear how exactly Pook was applied back then. Interestingly, a Pook is a magical human like creature such as an elf or demon, exactly as I’ve always thought of “him.” I’ve always said that Pook was the “hobgoblin of joy.” His home is the Mill and he bandies about. A close resemblance might be the spirit of Puck who lead maidens to the forest to be… you know. Puck also was made into a Shakespearean character.
I am in favor for calling women with feminist attitudes hittymissies. I also like the merry-go- down! “Drink, sirs, drink the merry-go-down!” Ahh, language is fun!