The Classical Wizard: Georgius Van Buren 1948-2017


The Classical Wizard, Georgius Van Buren, died July 30, 2017 in Poughkeepsie, New York. He was 69.

George was a devoted member of The International Wizard of Oz Club for over three decades. He was well-known for his Oz pastiches which appeared at annual Club conventions and in print in Oziana.

George was justly famous for relying on his dyslexia to explain why he was a Luddite in the tech age. He refused computers and even typewriters, which led to long, and sometimes heated, handwritten postal correspondence in several colours of George’s hand, red pen for Latin, green for Greek, just like the volumes of the Loeb Classical Library. He may have been the world’s only person for whom Latin was his first language.

This was how we came to translate The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into Latin. George would translate a chapter in Poughkeepsie and mail it to me in Tofino, British Columbia. I’d correct it and type it up and translate the next chapter to mail to him. It took us more than two years to translate the book this way. It was published in 1987 by Scolar Press in Berkeley as The Classical Wizard / Magus Mirabilis in Oz.

I recently came to transcribe George’s last story for Oziana. We had been planning a full-Denslowcolour facsimile edition of The Classical Wizard for the last year and revising the Latin text. In that time, George also devoted himself to advising a Latin translation of Tove Jansson’s Moominpappa’s Memoirs by our editor at the University of Warsaw, Dr. Konrad Kokoszkiewicz.

I am so sorry he did not live to see his magnum opus printed in its full glory. But GVB, the classical wizard, gave his last energy to its completion. If the Land of Oz is the next life, I’m sure George can be found conversing with the ancients on his own terms!

Thus, mortui vivos docent, the dead teach the living, the next generation of Latin students. Rust in peace, my friend—big heart, like Lignator Stanneus.

Mortui vivos docent,
manibus date lilia plenis
(Aeneid VI.883)

Ferruginat in pace… 

Georgius Van Buren 1948-2017

C.J. Hinke

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