Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Bruce Rogers
I am still working on Book XXII, the battle and murder book, trying to speed up its bloodthirstiness. There is a note by you on page 8, saying that it is a disappointment. That I feel, and felt, before it went to you. I have tried my best to bring it up to something, and cannot. I incline to blame Homer. It has now been by me for another fortnight, and I have bettered it, but only in negligible detail.
There is a doubtful point. 'Up went Melanthius the herder of goats, by way of the hall louvres...' W. suggested 'lantern': but a lantern was for light to come in, and louvres for smoke to go out. I could say 'smoke-vents' for louvres, if the French word (used by English mediaeval builders, of course) feels wrong to you. Or you could say
'by the smoke-ways in the hall' (a)
'by the smoke-vents of the hall' (b)
'by the hall-louvres' (c)
At present the line reads as I first quote it. a. b. and c. are alternatives. I have put them into the margin of the type-script, so if you tell Merton 'Book XXII page 5 read alternative (above) for the text,' it will be done.
You will find XXIII and XXIV equal failures with XXII. The Odyssey goes
to pieces now. It is not that I have been careless or fatigued. They have cost
me more pains than anything after Book I. I think that XXII is probably the
worst writing of all, for 0-Homer's skill lay in the domestic touches, and the
battle gave no scope for that. He has lavished tiny detail on XXIII and XXIV, to
try and pull them together - vainly.
I hope our finance troubles are not wrecking the prospects of the firm's getting away with their edition. It is a stormy season for the launch of a new dear book.
1 hope you may get XXIII and XXIV soon, and know that the worst is really over. That will hearten you to finish the drawings, and then the job is done. I am looking forward very much to handling the complete book. It's going to be a visual pleasure.
Is Mrs. Rogers still maintaining her improvement? She was so clearly better, that last time I saw you. Probably this money trouble will keep you in the States, now; I am sorry. Bother the Banks!
T E Shaw
Sorry about the pencil. I am in the office, and there is no ink at this desk.
|Last revised:||15 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