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T. E. Lawrence to Emery Walker and Wilfred Merton



Dear Mr. Emery Walker and Wilfred Merton,

A most solemn, business letter this must be;- copy to Bruce Rogers, copy to Isham, copy to me:- it is a comment on your letter of August 31 to B.R.

Your terms suit me - if Isham agrees - and I'll do my best to earn the money you offer for a version of the Odyssey, which shall be as good a version as I can do. It will not satisfy Homer or you or me or B.R., but if you print it as nobly as I expect, the critics' eyes will be too dazzled to pick holes in it.

One proof will suffice for my corrections. My dirty work is done in manuscript and typescript. I want the Press to consider itself entitled, empowered and entreated to alter anything in my text which displeases it. There is no sanctity in 'copy,' nor arteries nor bones. Cut it to fit the inelasticity of your type, without reference to me.

I will endeavour to be prompt with the instalments. You are wise to keep the half-fee till it is finished. My life is not one to guarantee or insure. I asked for two years to give room for minor accidents or engrossments.

I will ask you to promise each other not to associate, in public or private, any of my names (Shaw is real, Ross and Lawrence were assumed ones) with the translation, during my lifetime, without my permission. The twenty-fifth English version of the Odyssey is hardly a literary event; so I hope to get away with it, without publicity, of which I have had a surfeit. We must think out some humdrum name to put to it, if anyone asks a question about the person who did it.

Also, I am not a scholar. If I read Greek, it is for pleasure. I fear my version will inevitably try harder to convey my pleasure than to be an exact mould of the Greek. Yet accuracy is a good thing, in its way. Will you try to find a hide-bound scholar, and ask him to snout through the sample chapter for literal errors? I'd like to avoid bowlers.

The sample, by the way, is provisional only. A revised version of it will accompany the first batch of books sent you four months from now.

It will be an expensive book. May provision be made for me to have two free copies?

I think that is all the business. I feel that the invitation to work with Mr. Bruce Rogers, and to be produced by you is a great step up in the world for me, bookily speaking, and I'll do my best to give as little trouble as possible.

Yours sincerely

T E Shaw

Source: BR1 [29-31]
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 5 July 2006

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