Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Do You Pronounce 'Reyersbach' in Portuguese?         
 by Ann Mulloy Ashmore        
Answer: With difficulty. Born Hans Augusto Reyersbach, Hans Rey explained the evolution of his name from Reyersbach in a letter to a fan. “My name Rey is not my original [family name],” Hans wrote. “It was Reyersbach, but when I left my native Hamburg, Germany, for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1925, that name turned out to be a tongue-twister for my Portuguese-speaking friends. They shortened it to Rey.”

McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi

Hans used the formulation H. A. Rey as a nom de plume as early as the 1930s, however. Frustrated that he was not allowed to “adorn” business letters with illustrations, he created personalized greeting cards, cartoons, even a short book to amuse himself as well as his friends. Rey once told a reporter that the idea for the book came to him during a dinner lecture. As Hans listened to the botanist’s talk, he noticed an unusual plant on the table where he was seated. Suspecting it was carnivorous, he began to wonder if it would eat a piece of his steak. Not content to just imagine the outcome, Rey allowed the question to inspire a Planta Carnivora: Romance Botanico em 26 Capitulos, a humorous picture story about a carnivorous plant so out of control it finally has to be relocated to a zoo. A Planta Carnivora was the first of several versions of the story that would eventually be published by Harper & Brothers as Elizabite: The Adventures of a Carnivorous Plant in 1942 and 1962.

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