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T. E. Lawrence to Bruce Rogers


R.A.F.
Miranshah,
India.

30/6/28

Dear Bruce Rogers

This blessed project of the Odyssey has profited me, beyond my hope, by enabling me to write to you, and receive letters. That is a considerable gain, on my credit side, even if no more comes of it than this.

I see now (baying done the first, sample, book, and posted it to Isham today) why there are no adequate translations of Homer. He is baffling. Not simple, in education; not primitive, socially. Rather a William Morris of his day, I fancy.

There's a queer naivety in every other line: and at our remove of thought and language we can't say if he is smiling or not. Samuel Butler thought he was: and Butler's version lacks dignity, therefore, as much as it lacks poetry. Palmer is altogether the best, I think.

My version runs to 5000 words of this first book. I have tried to squeeze out all the juice in the orange; or what I thought was the juice. I tried to take liberties with the Greek: but failed. Homer compels respect. I confess he has me beaten to my knees. Perhaps if I did much more I might be less faithful.

The work has been very difficult: though I'm in a Homeric sort of air; a mud-brick fort beset by the tribes of Waziristan, on a plain encircled by the hills of the Afghan border. It reeks of Alexander the Great, our European fore-runner: who also loved Homer.

But, as I say, it has been difficult. This which I have sent is the sixth copying-out: so I shall not be a whit sorry (except in pocket) if your backers cry off the project, at sight of the sample.

You will realise, on the minor points of name-spelling, punctuation, paragraphing etc, that I don't care the least little bit what changes you make, to please yourself, to please your audience, to fit your type or page. The printer should use the MS of a new book (not a reprint) as raw materials to be cooked into decency.

Salutations

T E Shaw

Source: BR1
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 7 July 2006


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