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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Bruce Rogers


29/1/30

Dear B.R.

Here are IX, X, XI, XII (p.73-107) for Miss Saunders' oppression. I am afraid she will find it rather too much to face in-a-lump; this will be all for some months, as my stock in draft is nearly exhausted. I could finish off XIII for you, in a little while, but would rather keep it by me while I rough out a few more books, and then do a chunk of them together. it is difficult, frankly, to do: the Greek feels so dead under my fingers. I'm always trying to underline, to score heavier, to put in little bits, to try and lift the thing to life. Also the archaisms bother me.

I have cut out of the fair copy most of the recurring tags, as W-. suggested, leaving only a few to convey as much as modern man can endure of the Homeric atmosphere. After all, this is essentially a translation. I give myself freedom with moods and tenses, and in arrangement: and sometimes I transpose adjectives: but it often astonishes me, reading a back passage, to see how the bones of the Greek show through in every sentence.

The Cyclops' cave in this Book IX is worth translating, and Book XI has been done with twice the effort and care of any of the earlier books. I do not know whether it is yet good enough. The
underworld is the only place, if there, where the Odyssey becomes great. Everywhere it seems to prefer grace and smoothness and subtlety and skill to largeness. The Italian word 'terribilita':- that is the main lack of this particular Homer: whereas the owner of the Iliad had it almost in excess.

How do the 'cuts' go? Do you forecast any date by which you will be feeling the need of XIII-XXIV? I would like to deliver it in batches of two or three books, quite gradually, if you have time to spare me. Remember that within reason the more time I have the better my results - to the limit of the human factor, which alas is a low limit, in this case.

I find my MS and galley hard for reference. Is there any chance of a page-proof being pulled, which I could keep filed by me? The author keeps on recurring to his pet phrases, and I want to suggest my former versions only, without dead-copying them: and my memory has considered and rejected so many versions of each, before finally approving one, that it is seldom that I can remember what I actually wrote.

Yours

T.E.S.

Source: BR1 [50-51]
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 13 July 2006


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