Siddhesh Joshi (Editor)

Alexander Lenard

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Name  Alexander Lenard

Alexander Lenard

Alexander Lenard (Hungarian: Lénárd Sándor; Latin: Alexander Lenardus; (Budapest, 9 March 1910 – Dona Emma, Brazil, 13 April 1972) was a Hungarian physician, writer, translator, painter, musician, poet and occasional language instructor. He was born in Budapest, Hungary and died in Dona Irma (Dona Emma), in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil. He is best known as the Latin translator of A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh (Winnie Ille Pu). He wrote fiction and non-fiction in German, Latin, Hungarian, Italian and English.



In 1920 the Lénárd family moved from Hungary to Austria. Sándor conducted his medical studies at the University of Vienna. After the 1938 "Anschluss" with Germany, he escaped to Italy. During World World II, he escaped the attention of the Fascist regime by leaving no "paper trail" (identity card, ration card, etc.). He survived by trading his medical services for food and shelter. His leisure hours were spent in the Vatican library, reading texts in Latin until it became a colloquial language to him. His brother Károly died in 1944 in a Nazi labour camp (Arbeitslager) while his sister settled in England. In 1951 he emigrated to Brazil, where he won the São Paulo Television Bach competition in 1956. He settled in the Dona Irma valley, where he bought a small farm with a house he made "invisible" by surrounding it with his favourite trees. He treated the local population medically until his death in 1972.


While in Brazil, he tutored the daughter of a local resident in Latin, and she expressed the wish for something interesting to read. In response, he translated Winnie the Pooh, for which he combed the classics for idiomatic expressions used during ancient times. Privately printed, the book gradually reached larger audiences until it became an international best-seller. He also wrote fiction (prose and poetry), and non-fiction such as musical, culinary, linguistic and medical essays and studies. As of 2010 two of his original books have been published in English – The Valley of the Latin Bear (1965), and The Fine Art of Roman Cooking (1966).

Film Portrayal

In 2009, the New York Film Festival premiered Lynne Sachs's The Last Happy Day, an experimental retelling of Lenard's life story from the intimate perspective of his distant cousin turned filmmaker. The film features unpublished letters from the 1940s to 1970s written by Lenard to his relatives in the United States, as well as interviews and archival photos. A year after the film's debut, the Hungarian Quarterly published an essay by Sachs along with some of Lenard's letters.


Alexander Lenard Wikipedia