T. E. Lawrence to Sydney Cockerell
Oct. 15th, 1924
Your comments are very kind: and have gone on to Pike, who made a profit and loss account of them, and struck a balance, which was on our side.
The only sorrow is the picture. Kennington was moved to incongruous mirth, reading my book, and a dozen Bateman-quality drawings came of it. To my mind they are as rare, surprising and refreshing as plums in cake (I've never had plums in cake, but you know the sort of feeling it would be) and lighten up the whole. It's good that someone is decent enough to find laughter in a stodgy mess of mock-heroic egotism.
My prose-style is just a bad one, and Kennington's comment, unconscious comment, touches it to the mid-riff. (What is a mid-riff?) Of course they don't fit the page, or the style of print: why they wouldn't be screamingly funny, if they did. It's Kennington, pricking the vast bladder of my conceit. Hip, hip, hip, you see, and then a long fizz of escaping air before the poor frog could burst!
G.B.S. read the proof: and left not a paragraph without improvement - but some nearly died in the operation. Not a trace of anaesthetic! Bracing of him to treat me by his standard - but I'm a poor cracked vessel to adventure among these spinning jars. What a great and glorious person he is: correcting my sludge as if it was the real tissue, and never betraying what sludge it was. If ever you meet her please assure Mrs. Shaw what an overwhelming compliment it was.
Hornby has sent back the proof, with the most printer-like comments. Hogarth has touched on two or three matters of taste. So that Pike and myself are attacking the next section valorously. What a mass of muck it is.
|Source:||SCC 362-3 (also, with variant punctuation, DG 468-9)|
|Last revised:||1 January 2006|
T. E. Lawrence chronology
1888 16 August: born at Tremadoc, Wales
1896-1907: City of Oxford High School for Boys
1907-9: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1st Class Hons, 1909
1910-14: Magdalen College, Oxford (Senior Demy), while working at the British Museum's excavations at Carchemish
1915-16: Military Intelligence Dept, Cairo
1916-18: Liaison Officer with the Arab Revolt
1919: Attended the Paris Peace Conference
1919-22: wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1921-2: Adviser on Arab Affairs to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office
1922 August: Enlisted in the Ranks of the RAF
1923 January: discharged from the RAF
1923 March: enlisted in the Tank Corps
1923: translated a French novel, The Forest Giant
1924-6: prepared the subscribers' abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1927-8: stationed at Karachi, then Miranshah
1927 March: Revolt in the Desert, an abridgement of Seven Pillars, published
1928: completed The Mint, began translating Homer's Odyssey
1929-33: stationed at Plymouth
1931: started working on RAF boats
1932: his translation of the Odyssey published
1933-5: attached to MAEE, Felixstowe
1935 February: retired from the RAF
1935 19 May: died from injuries received in a motor-cycle crash on 13 May
1935 21 May: buried at Moreton, Dorset