Miscellaneous writing

Another history

From The Odyssey, Book 8 [235-255]

The crowd was silent, but Alcinous said: “Sir, you have expressed, with fine good manners, your wish to show your talents, and your anger at that man who stood up in this arena and mocked you, as no one who understands how to speak properly would ever do. Now listen carefully, so you may tell your own fine friends at home when you are feasting beside your wife and children, and remember our skill in all the deeds we have accomplished from our forefathers’ time till now. We are not brilliant at wrestling or boxing, but we are quick at sprinting, and with ships we are the best. We love the feast, the lyre, dancing and varied clothes, hot baths and bed. But now let the best dancers of Phaecia perform, so that our guest may tell his friends when he gets home, how excellent we are at seafaring, at running, and at dancing and song. Let someone bring the well-tuned lyre from inside for Demodocus – go quickly!”

translated Wilson, M [2018] Norton, NY.

Note: Chosen at random.

printing Thoughts on lettering

Homer, TE Lawrence and Bruce Rogers

TE Lawrence is (or perhaps) was an icon of Englishness – the world has moved on. The David Lean film in which Lawrence was played by Peter O’Toole (no finer role) claimed him as a legend, and I grew up thinking so. (I’m surprised that the film came out in 1962 when I was 5, so I must have seen it much later – it still haunts me.) I collected Lawrence books as a teenager, and still have this Odyssey, though others have since gone in various house moves.

I never read the Seven Pillars… (who can claim with honest heart they have?) and always hankered after a copy of Crusader Castles. Being once an archaeologist I had romantic dreams of retracing Lawrence’s steps through Arabia – not that I was ever much interested in Middle Eastern art or archaeology.

Reading Rogers’s Paragraphs on Printing (Dover reprint, 1979) the other week I chanced across some information about the first Lawrence Odyssey. This was initiated by Rogers, used Centaur, of course, and took nearly four years to complete.

Rogers writes that the ink was specially made: ‘I had an ink made from an old formula I found in Savage’s Decorative Printing, which called for balsam of copaiba instead of varnish. It was somewhat slow in drying, but has still a pleasant spicy aroma on which many people have commented on opening the book.’ This edition came out in 1932.

My edition is the first UK trade of 1935, though printed in the US.