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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Bruce Rogers


31/1/31

Dear B.R.

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

Source: DG 709-710  
Checked: dn/  
Last revised: 1 February 2006  

 

 



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