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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.

Yours ever


Source: SCC 362-3 (also, with variant punctuation, DG 468-9)
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 1 January 2006

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