Archives For Beavers

Beavers Beware

January 2, 2017 — 9 Comments

russian-typoA mere 375,000 rubles buys a fair amount of publicity in Russia; just be sure to proofread the product.

This Christmas season one Russian charity hoped to encourage readers to live good lives, but instead they published a brochure that encouraged beaver genocide.

Beavers are particularly vulnerable rodents. They are quite gentle, and even Talking Beavers are poorly equipped to defend themselves.

The lovely scene on the leaflet featured an innocent girl gazing into a snow globe. Emblazoned above it was supposed to read “Do Good.” Instead, the Russian words spelled out “Exterminate Beavers!”

It just bears out the maxim, “proofread before you publish.” In this case, one could easily add: “if the work is translated, make sure the proofreader understands both languages.”

Some errors are especially heinous.

C.S. Lewis recognized the importance of proofreading.

He was sometimes the victim of inadequate editorial review. So it comes as no surprise that he preferred to see galleys (the uncorrected typeset proofs) of his work before actual publication.

The following reference from a letter in which Lewis attributes the need for such as due to his own poor penmanship, rather than the carelessness of others. This is typical of his generosity, since part of the duties of editors (and pharmacists, for that matter) is to be able to decipher the scribblings of authors (and physicians). Mark Twain did not share Lewis’ grace in this matter.

When his friend Dorothy Sayers died in 1958, Lewis was unable to attend the funeral in London. He was, however, honored to write a panegyric for the service, which was read by one of the bishops in attendance. Following the event, Sayer’s son, Anthony Fleming thanked Lewis and asked if he might include the eulogy in possible collection.

Dear Mr. Fleming

Thank you for your most kind letter. I am relieved to find that the little speech has pleased those whose approval at such a time matters most—it is so easy to go wrong in a thing of that kind and so to give offence.

I am perfectly willing that it should be printed, but please ask whoever sees to it to be sure and let me see a proof. Even if printers made no mistakes, my villainous writing nearly always leads to some.

Lewis, of course, was referring to a literal manuscript, a document written by hand. One assumes that the Russian publisher was given a typescript, so they could not use “villainous writing” as an excuse for their error.

Still, I suspect they were given the text in one language, English perhaps, and asked to translate it for publication. In that case, who actually is responsible for the mistake?

I choose not to worry about attributing liability in this matter. I’m content to use this winter mistake to remind me of the importance of proofreading.

Oh, and on behalf of all of the beavers in Russia, I am relieved to know they will not be distributing these murderous words.

Beware of Beavers

June 3, 2013 — 13 Comments

beaverIt’s rather ironic that after my last post on the peaceful harmony of wildlife I would choose to post on the subject of increasing violence among once peaceful forest mammals.

Beavers—of all the unlikely creatures—have apparently been growing more aggressive.

That’s a far cry from the gentle domestic rodents C.S. Lewis introduced us to in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Just consider the politeness of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver when the Pevensie children are meeting Aslan for the first time:

“Go on,” whispered Mr. Beaver.

“No,” whispered Peter, “you first.”

“No, Sons of Adam before animals,” whispered Mr. Beaver back again.

As if we needed another reminder that we’re not in Narnia, reports out of Belarus indicate that beaver attacks are on the rise. In the most serious attack, a sixty year old man was actually slain by one of the web-footed amphibians. Accounts said a major artery in his leg was sliced by its “razor-sharp teeth.”

A frightening picture indeed.

Well, worrisome certainly . . . until we hear the rest of the story.

It turns out the fisherman was assaulting the poor little animal. While we must remain considerate of the grief of the sportsman’s family, it appears he was driving past the beaver—which was presumably minding its own woodland business—when he decided it would be fun to grab it and force it to pose for a picture with him.

Apparently—make note of this lest you inadvertently arouse a beaver’s ire—since they are predominantly nocturnal, beavers become disoriented and irritable when forced to pose for portraits during the daytime.

It’s one thing to enjoy nature’s wildness from a distance. Quite another to interpose ourselves and expect undomesticated beasts to behave with good manners. After all, as we learned when Aslan created Narnia, he didn’t civilize all of the furry beavers:

He was going to and fro among the animals. And every now and then he would go up to two of them (always two at a time) and touch their noses with his. He would touch two beavers among all the beavers, two leopards among all the leopards, one stag and one deer among all the deer, and leave the rest. (The Magician’s Nephew).