T. E. Lawrence to Bruce Rogers
It is going to be a peach of a book. I like the operation upon Polyphemus immensely. The mules and the hare of Nausicaa are charming. I don't think the young lady herself is immensely (?) happy (too chesty, perhaps) as she faces the naked Odysseus. The chariot and horses is a nice design, and the sirens with the Gods, old friends.
The text reads:- that's about all I feel inclined to say for it. My speed of work is only apparent. 18-21 were roughed out during the summer: but so much work lies between the rough and the finished draft that it does not mean much. At present, for instance, I have XVIII ready to fair-copy, and am concentrating upon XIX: but it will be a week, at least, before XIX is in anything like shape. Eventually, and by passage of time, one reaches a certain finality: one gets as far as one can: and it is at that stage the fair-copy should be made and passed to you. To hurry the revisions means only too many corrections in type-script or proof and that is a bad mark on a writer. He should find out what he wants to say before he says it.
I have great hope of
finishing by March next year: that is if all goes well and I am not too much
distracted. In India of course it was different. I had so much spare time. But
in England an airman has no right to undertake a version of the Odyssey.
I am sorry to have been so long.
I think the sea-pieces in the Odyssey, while not written by a sea-dog, are vivid and studied things by someone who had been on the sea enough to know what he was saying. They strike me as about the best things in the book. I may have heightened them, perhaps ; but that has been my principle throughout. When I can raise the drama, I do, within the bounds of translation.
Lord, there are sonic dull bits! XV and XVI, XIX and XX! My hat!
|Last revised:||14 July 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