Sonnets of a Sorceror

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin: China)
Wū-shī de shísì-háng-shī
巫师 wūshī = 'wizard'.
de = connecting particle
十四 shí-sì = '14'.
háng = 'line (of writing)'.
shī = 'poem'.
14-line poems of a wizard
Traditional Chinese (Mandarin: Taiwan)
Mófǎ-shī shísì-háng-shī chāo
魔法 mófǎ-shī = 'magician'.
十四 shí-sì = '14'.
háng = 'line (of writing)'
shī = 'poem'.
chāo = 'copy' (used in traditional book titles).
14-line poems of a magician
Mahō-zukai no sonetto (jūshi-gyō-shi)
魔法 使い mahō-zukai = 'magician'.
no = connecting particle
ソネット sonetto = 'sonnet' (from English).
十四 jūshi = '14'.
gyō = 'line (of writing)'.
shi = 'poem'.
Sonnets (14-line poems) of a wizard
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Thơ Phủ thủy thơ () = 'poem'.
phủ thủy = 'sorceror'.
Poems of a sorceror

This is above all a book of magical poetry. Rowling uses the word 'sonnet' because it goes well with 'sorceror'. If Harry Potter was a book about something else (e.g., pirates or monasteries), it could just as well have been named 'Ballads of a Buccaneer' or 'Alexandrines of an Acolyte'. But since this is a book about wizards, 'Sonnets of a Sorceror' it is.

The sonnet is familiar to anyone having a nodding acquaintance with European literature. It is one of the best known poetic forms with its beginnings in Renaissance Italy. The sonnet is virtually unknown, however, to Oriental literature, which has its own rich tradition of verse forms. Some of the better known forms in China were the shi, the ci, and the fu. Japan is famous for its 7-line tanka and 3-line haiku.

All but one of the translators feels compelled to spell out the word 'sonnets' in translating the title.

Category: Poetry

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