Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Bruce Rogers
Forgive the typewriter: I write in office hours, and they mistake
the yapping of this machine for my work.
Your letter is very re-assuring. Under such conditions the Odyssey can harm nobody and nothing. I am only doubtful if it will do anyone any good!
We must do our best to get the whole of the luxury edition placed before the date of publication: then the popular version will matter less.
As soon as the price is fixed I have several of my friends to inform about it. They will wish to subscribe to Walker's direct, which benefits the firm to the extent of the booksellers' commission.
The arrangements you suggest for the U.S.A. edition sound admirable. Not many copies either of a Harvard or a Knopf edition would be brought into England, for there is no demand in England for more versions of the classics. I do not think the point demands any safeguarding.
I return XVIII-XX, with some minor changes and the necessary embodying of the W. corrections. Only I have refused to accept his championing of the ancient theory of hollow-bladed axes. The metaphor from ship-building seems as clear as daylight.
You may have thought me cavalier in preferring my own way to W.'s professional suggestions, sometimes: not his verbal suggestions, but his archaeology. Yet actually, I'm in as strong a position vis-à-vis Homer as most of his translators. For years we were digging up a city of roughly the Odysseus period. I have handled the weapons, armour, utensils of those times, explored their houses, planned their cities. I have hunted wild boars and watched wild lions, sailed the Aegean (and sailed ships), bent bows, lived with pastoral people, woven textiles, built boats and killed many men. So I have odd knowledge that quality me to understand the Odyssey, and odd experiences that interpret it to me. Therefore a certain headiness in rejecting help.
I have no more for you yet. My R.A.F. interruption is almost over, pro tem, and I hope to get XXI into shape before another week is passed.
The pleasurable memory of this Odyssey business will be our relations. I have found you the most considerate editor and producer imaginable, and it has been very enjoyable to work for you. The money will also be pleasurable, and alas also, too soon, a memory!
T. E. Shaw
|Last revised:||1 February 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