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Somewhat uneven, but on the whole I enjoyed this very much I give Living With a Dead Language 4 stars, but will note that, unless you are a middle aged woman trying to motivate herself to study Latin not, I m assuming, a huge demographic , some sections may be sloggish Well, to be honest, even if you are a middle aged woman trying to learn Latin you may have to do some slogging, buton that later.In terms of books in which a middle aged woman moves to the country and finds fulfillment Somewhat uneven, but on the whole I enjoyed this very much I give Living With a Dead Language 4 stars, but will note that, unless you are a middle aged woman trying to motivate herself to study Latin not, I m assuming, a huge demographic , some sections may be sloggish Well, to be honest, even if you are a middle aged woman trying to learn Latin you may have to do some slogging, buton that later.In terms of books in which a middle aged woman moves to the country and finds fulfillment and love in a new endeavor, or even a middle aged person returns to college and observes the youngsters and recent developments in academia, there are undoubtedly better books Not that there s anything wrong with Ann Patty s tale, which would fit into either of these categories But the central drama is Latin study, which, except for a narrow audience, may not prove gripping Still, this was the aspect that grabbed my attention when I came across a review for the book in my Facebook feed posted by The American Classical League and prompted me to dash over toand order it right away After making half hearted efforts to learn Latin with my kids for several years, this year is going to be the year I finally start making some real progress I hope Anyway, Patty leaves her long time career as a high powered book editor and publisher admittedly, a high powered editor of some spectacularly sordid books, but, still, successful in the book world in New York City to live in semi retirement in her country home After boredom sets in, she decides to study Latin at Vassar, both to preserve her sanity her mother s early death, apparently from alcohol and depression after all her children were grown is an issue Patty deals with over the course of the book and to enjoy the pleasures of playing with words and language Patty s story may not be action packed, but for my purposes it was very satisfactory A review I read before purchasing described the book as delightful, and, though it took quite a while for me to warm to the story, eventually I did The delight here is in Patty s infectious enthusiasm for the peculiarities, nuances, and connections involved in words and grammar The author has a real passion for words, and a gift for conveying her excitement in delving into grammatical thickets and exploring unexpected rabbit trails For her, language study is an adventure, and careful study and consideration of how ideas are expressed, in both poetry and prose, reveals much about the beliefs and priorities of a culture Gratifyingly for me , Patty actually includes a fair lot of the grammar she studies in the book We review Latin cases and declensions, talk about moods, tenses, etc I really enjoyed her clear, thorough descriptions, with example sentences in Latin, of the grammar For things I ve already studied it was a nice review, and for others which I ve either not met yet or have completely forgotten, like the ablative absolute, the passive periphrastic, and the epexegetical infinitive she gives entertaining and clear explanations And for comic relief she offers amusing, self deprecatory stories, such as how, when a fellow student suggested she buy index cards and make herself flash cards for memorizing, she does, but she s so cheap that she puts three words, and definitions on one side of each card, saving the blank side of the card for future use Considering that she was driving an hour and a half a day, four days a week, to get to her Latin class, I m assuming the thriftiness with index cards was meant to be funny She also talks about her eagerness to impress her teachers, and her dismay when she, an excellent student in her youth, is no longer one of the top students in her classes I was taken aback, however, when she tells how surprised she was at the beginning of her second year class, an intermediate level course devoted to Catullus, when the professor hands out a syllabus which included the warning Some of our poems contain lewd language and sexually explicit subjects If that will be offensive to you, please talk to me Her response Well, this was news Okay Really Wouldn t she have Googled Catullus at some point after registering for the course And, anyway, as an educated, middle aged woman, had she really never heard that Catullus is famous for being filthy Even assuming this pretended naivete was for dramatic effect, I found it unconvincing, and it did make me feel a bit less confidence in the honesty of her narration.One thing I particularly enjoyed was Patty s recognition of how much harder it can be to learn a language when one is no longer young Heck, even when I was young I was no good at languages Patty is fluent in French, so this was not the case for her , but at this point the old bean stubbornly resists retaining things like new vocabulary, case endings, etc But our author soldiers on valiantly I was delighted with her enthusiasm about memorizing her first Latin poem, and sympathized with her dismay when none of her friends want to listen to her recitation though I could see their point It is all very well to listen to one s progeny recite Latin memory work, but such things do, generally, require parental type devotionThe personal memoir component, while not badly done, was less interesting to me than the sections relating to Latin study, and on a few occasions she really annoyed me Patty relates personal challenges which range from the sympathy inspiring a bout with cancer to the suck it up, buttercup variety her daughter is difficult as an adolescent and has to be sent to boarding school Her romance with her current boyfriend is quite sweet he sounds like a lovely, patient man , but I could have done with less information on why her marriages failed she tellsthan I had any desire to know about her libido in contrast with that of her second husband Her stories about her life in the world of book publishing were mildly interesting, and would have been better if they d been told without the martyred attitude Apparently she was involved in some sort of publishing scandal, which she is legally not allowed to tell us about, but in which, she assures us, she was the wronged party Which might possibly be interesting if I had any idea of what she was referring to, but I don t Speaking of parental, one of the ideas which Patty returns to throughout the book is that of avoiding her mother s fate, a decline into alcoholism and early death due to lack of interests once her children were raised, but she also wishes to please or honor her mother posthumously by pursuing the study of Latin, a subject her mother had talked about enjoying in school and had wished her daughter to study Patty had chosen to study French instead This aspect of the book felt a little unsatisfactory to me Her relationship with her mother is clearly something she regrets she repeatedly mentions her mother s anger when, on her first marriage, she declines to take her husband s name Her mother takes this as a criticism of her own choices, and the two do not seem to have had a close relationship Patty sees taking up the study of Latin, and especially visiting Rome, as a way of connecting with her mother through their shared passion Despite my nagging feeling that her efforts would have beenusefully offered earlier, Ann does find comfort through her studies, and that is a fine thing.A couple unnecessary gibes at groups she dislikes left a bad taste for me all out of proportion to their significance in the book She manages to segue from a description of the medieval German religious sect, the Abcedarians, who avoided using the written word for fear of its corrupting power, to a slam against creationists, climate change deniers, FOX News watchers, much of the Republican party, who, she claims, are the modern forms of this determinedly ignorant group Though not a member of any of the groups she is insulting here, I found this rather offensive and unnecessary Rather like her obsessive habit of speculating on the sexual orientation of all the male students in each class she takes After class, I visited Curtis her professor in his office, and we discussed the students in the class And there are two longhairs, Xavier and Siddhi, I said They ve already my favorites He shook his head Of course, he said Ever the Berkeley girl Xavier, he explained, was a Greek specialist, and flat out brilliant Straight or gay I asked No one knew And hottie Siddhi, I said, what about him This sort of commentary, while strikes me as bizarre and prurient, is carried out each time she encounters a new set of classmates Not only does she speculate on the sexual proclivities of the young men she meets, but she tends to describe each man she meets as thin and geeky or a hottie To me this seems particularly ugly given her frequent talk of being a feminist Though perhaps for her, being a feminist means claiming the right to freely ogle and objectify the opposite sex At least when she insults people who hold traditional Christian beliefs it is in reference to her study of Lucretius, though her mockery of religious believers struck me as peculiar in light of her enthusiasm for astrology when talking with a young girl she is tutoring she asks the girl s zodiac sign, and is delighted at having correctly guessed that the girl, like herself, is Aries and spiritualism she says, I once had a session with my friend Susan, a seer who channels the African spirit Garuda Garuda claimed that I was being watched over by a tall, thin, white haired man Did I recognize him she asked Of course, I said, it must be my grandfather.Fortunately, the forays into religious and political snarkiness and personal melodrama are a minor, if aggravating, part of the book, the great part being given to the story of her romance with Latin And that is a story she tells very nicely.Though I sometimes found Patty an uncongenial companion when we moved from discussions of language and grammar to thepersonal sections, for the most part I enjoyed this very much The frequent shifts from discussions of Latin grammar and literature to stories of about her life do keep the book from becoming textbook like, and are generally smoothly accomplished She has some stylistic quirks, most notably an excessive enthusiasm for exclamation marks a fault I m guilty of myself, but I expect better of professionals , but mostly her writing is unremarkable and moves along at a fine clip Generally, her unusual memoir, combining her journey into the world of Latin study with a look back over her previous life, with its triumphs and regrets, and a newly hopeful view of her future, including companionable romance and opportunity to serve her community through volunteer work, is entertaining, and it made me feelinclined to have another run at Wheelock s come September (((FREE PDF))) ☈ Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin ✐ An entertaining exploration of the richness and relevance of the Latin language and literature, and an inspiring account of finding renewed purpose through learning something new and challenging After thirty five years of living in New York City, Ann Patty stopped working and moved to the country upstate She was soon bored, aimless, and lost in the woods Hoping to challenge her restless, word loving brain, and to find a new engagement with life, she began a serious study of Latin as an auditor at local colleges In Living with a Dead Language, Patty weaves elements of her personal life into the confounding grammar and syntax of Latin as she chronicles not only the daily slog but also the deep pleasures of trying to master an inflected language Courses in Roman history and epigraphy give her new insight into her tragic, long deceased mother Horace into the loss of a brilliant friend , Lucretius into her tenacious drivenness and attraction to Buddhism Catullus calls up her early days in s New York while Ovid adds a delightful dimension to the flora and fauna that surround her Finally, Virgil reconciles her to her new life no longer an urban exile but a scholar, writer, and teacher Along the way, she meets an intriguing, impassioned cast of characters professors, students, and classicists outside of academia who become her new colleagues and who keep Latin very much alive Written with humor, candor, and an infectious enthusiasm for words and grammar, Patty s book is a celebration of how learning and literature can transform the past and lead to a new, unexpected future Oh thank god that s over Rather than giving you a full accounting of all the things that made me want to throw this humble brag of a book across the room, I will settle for advising you not to read this book unless you are actually a New Yorker and editor who would happily use the word ultracrepidarian to describe yourself and would then immediately define it, lest your audience fail to appreciate the nuances you most prefer Especially please don t read this book if you like Latin or want to like Latin If you like L Rather than giving you a full accounting of all the things that made me want to throw this humble brag of a book across the room, I will settle for advising you not to read this book unless you are actually a New Yorker and editor who would happily use the word ultracrepidarian to describe yourself and would then immediately define it, lest your audience fail to appreciate the nuances you most prefer Especially please don t read this book if you like Latin or want to like Latin If you like Latin, you may like me find yourself deeply annoyed both at the author s ability to mock and dismiss the undergraduates in the courses she audits and at her insistence that she is the only genius ever to understand the ablative absolute without angst If haven t yet taken Latin and you want to like Latin, you might assume that the author s overly complicated descriptions of the language and musings on what it must mean about Roman culture are representative of learning Latin Please do, though, take Latin and write your own book especially if you are not no longer a traditional student I will read it, and I will almost certainly enjoy itthan this one I am at odds with this book On the one hand, she reminded me much of my Classical language undergrad stage, where everywhere you turn is Latin and Greek You know you re pretentious and probably annoying, but it s magical It s like being part of this secret club underpinning western culture.She s also a staunch feminist, refusing to fold away quietly and pass away without notice Finding meaning in her life beyond her relationships, much like she states her mother did.Then, she ll say things l I am at odds with this book On the one hand, she reminded me much of my Classical language undergrad stage, where everywhere you turn is Latin and Greek You know you re pretentious and probably annoying, but it s magical It s like being part of this secret club underpinning western culture.She s also a staunch feminist, refusing to fold away quietly and pass away without notice Finding meaning in her life beyond her relationships, much like she states her mother did.Then, she ll say things like she made it a point to always have a gay man in her life, which is terribly tokenizing and rather shortsighted Also, while she claims to use Latin as a way to reach out to the memory of her mother, I find her mother is often an afterthought ebbing in and out as needed.Ultimately, I found myself drawn to this memoir, but I also found myself cringing away at it as well LJ This is a lovely, though entirely geek laden, combination of word exploration and memoir I found images of her parents haunting, and at times the noun declension and tenses were too much for me to follow But overall, if you have an interest in Latin or in languages in general, and you like fine writing, then yes, this might just foot that albeit narrow bill Having worked in publishing for 20 years, although not at her level and admittedly she sounds like she can t believe what she lucked LJ This is a lovely, though entirely geek laden, combination of word exploration and memoir I found images of her parents haunting, and at times the noun declension and tenses were too much for me to follow But overall, if you have an interest in Latin or in languages in general, and you like fine writing, then yes, this might just foot that albeit narrow bill Having worked in publishing for 20 years, although not at her level and admittedly she sounds like she can t believe what she lucked into, though she is a bit miffed at the way it ended up , I found the career talk interesting, too.This is a lovely volume for a very narrow field of readers The combination of career, memoir and language will grab them very firmly, however Why does she make random insults at certain groups when she goes off on tangents Republicans She criticizes religion but believes in astrology She never really talks about what happened that led to her downfall in the publishing industry, asserting that she legally can t talk about it, but that she was definitely wronged She complains about the people in her life too often without thinking about them She seems to have no respect for the members who prefer the old ways Oddly enough, I stil Why does she make random insults at certain groups when she goes off on tangents Republicans She criticizes religion but believes in astrology She never really talks about what happened that led to her downfall in the publishing industry, asserting that she legally can t talk about it, but that she was definitely wronged She complains about the people in her life too often without thinking about them She seems to have no respect for the members who prefer the old ways Oddly enough, I still found this an interesting read when she would talk about what she used to learn latin, her classmates, and the declensions and such My main problem seemed to be with the person coming through in the writing rather than the subject mater of the book itself Ms Patty s memoir is about her choice to learn language as an adult she had retired from the book publishing business and was without a hobby to fully occupy her mind She wove in auto biographical stories that transformed the whole Ms Patty gave herself purpose, and found new friends and interests This is a short, enjoyable book.This would have been a better book had Ms Patty s editor kept her from a horrible indulgence Out of nowhere, suddenly on page 165, she says the modern day equiva Ms Patty s memoir is about her choice to learn language as an adult she had retired from the book publishing business and was without a hobby to fully occupy her mind She wove in auto biographical stories that transformed the whole Ms Patty gave herself purpose, and found new friends and interests This is a short, enjoyable book.This would have been a better book had Ms Patty s editor kept her from a horrible indulgence Out of nowhere, suddenly on page 165, she says the modern day equivalent of the Abecedarians who were truly odd and perhaps favored ignorance are Fox News watchers, much of the Republican Party Holy cow I d expect well mannered members of any political party would be annoyed at this sort of random nastiness Shame on you, Ms Patty For me, it took a four star rating down to two stars It s always interesting to read about how someone approaches learning a new language and this was a departure from the usual tale of learning French or Italian This time, retired book editor Ann Patty decides she has too much time on her hands and mind and needs a real challenge Latin fits the bill She studied it in college many years ago and returns to college to continue The book tells of her five year journey through Latin learning the other students, the teachers, the poetry, the gr It s always interesting to read about how someone approaches learning a new language and this was a departure from the usual tale of learning French or Italian This time, retired book editor Ann Patty decides she has too much time on her hands and mind and needs a real challenge Latin fits the bill She studied it in college many years ago and returns to college to continue The book tells of her five year journey through Latin learning the other students, the teachers, the poetry, the grammar I admit to skipping discussions of grammar, but for the most part this was an upbeat story of doing something in retirement you ve always dreamed of doing In between language and laughter, memory and insight, Ann Patty s memoir also manages to deliver the secret to aging gracefully be curious, be bold, be delighted by the journey, and most of all, always always be a student, in your own way Go and read it and when you close the book, resolve to learn something new to stay young.