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Sunday, July 19, 2015

The use of Latin to thinly veil an atrocity

I'm reading a book that was published in 1908 that studies Fijian customs before and after the arrival of the white man. When I was totally engrossed in the readings, I came upon a succeeding paragraph that was written in Latin.  Since many words are derived from Latin words, I could get a slight understanding of what was said.

Curiosity got the better of me. I typed in the words into 'Google translate' and couldn't believe what I was reading of the English translation! It described the most ghoulish abuse of corpses in a sexual manner. You can fill in the blanks. As you know, the ancient Fijians were cannibals and made war upon neighboring tribes. No one was immune to the Fijian roasting ovens and 3-pronged organ extracting forks. Not only were captured warriors filleted and grilled, but women, children, old and young were also captured and served up for dinner. The terrible concern is that before baking, the corpses were celebrated in the most licentious ways. The author of the book just couldn't bring himself to express this information in the English language, so he chose Latin to maintain the comprehensive academic study of the subject at hand. Later in the chapter, it happened again!. This translation was equally as gruesome.

I find myself with the same dilemma. Native Hope is classified as historical fiction, which means that the events closely resemble what really occurred in the targeted historical period. Should I include such disturbing events in my novel? If customs like this one are left out, then the story becomes a diluted silhouette of tribal life in the ancient days. I've always been an advocate for telling the truth at all costs. So, strap on your seat belts for this story!

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