Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Brown’

Wundervoll zusammengefaßt. 🙂 Malcolm Brown im Nachwort zu Lawrence of Arabia – The Selected Letters. Ich muß irgendwann doch noch mal das Making of zu Martas und Jolanthes Biographien schreiben.

Partly you’re delighted at finding a new letter offering an unexpected aspect or a lively piece of description; partly you’re afraid that it might disturb the pattern of a section you had thought rounded and complete. In that case it’s like the arrival of an unexpected guest in the middle of a dinner party: you find yourself shuffling the chairs ad the table mats just when you thought you could bring in the coffee. And there’s that other constant snare threatening you: the reference you failed to identify, or identified wrongly, on which, inevitably, some reviewer or other will delightedly pounce. Pounce, and, all too often, denounce. ‘Mr. So-and-so’s unawareness of such-and-such leaves one in the gravest doubts as to the quality of his editorship overall.’ ‘Connoisseurs of the writings of X still await an interpreter with the necessary scholarship.’ You almost feel you’re reading one of you old school reports. ‘Requires more application.’ ‘Must do better next term.’
The trouble is you resent being found wanting but know your critic is probably right. Yet what you can’t say in reply is, ‘Look at the footnote on such-and-such a page. That reference took weeks to trace and needed the wit of Hercule Poirot, plus the help of half the brains in the Bodleian Library to find the answer. That note has added to the sum of human knowledge.’ There was such a footnote in my book, though I didn’t need all the Bodleian staff – just one, to whom I shall be ever grateful for finding the vital clue in an extremely obscure magazine of the early 1920s. The problem is that your readers can’t see the work behind those lines in minuscule print at the bottom of the page; they simply glance at them (or not, as the case may be) and move on. They expect the explanation to be there, and would be offended if it wasn’t.

Read Full Post »