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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Bruce Rogers


Plymouth

30/X/31

Dear B.R.

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!

Yours

T E Shaw


Sorry about the pencil. I am in the office, and there is no ink at this desk.

Source: BR1 [86-7]
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 15 July 2006


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