The Drollery of T.E. Lawrence

At loose ends for an hour in a splendid London library, I collapsed into an overstuffed leather chair and pulled the 1927 edition of Revolt in the Desert from a nearby shelf. This edition included a publisher’s note describing the exchanges between the copy editor and Lawrence of Arabia. My favorite concerned Meleager of Gadara.

Copy editor: On page 53, “Meleagar, the immoral poet.” I have put ‘immortal’ poet, but the author may mean ‘immoral’ after all.

Lawrence: Immorality I know. Immortality I cannot judge. As you please: Meleager will not sue us for libel.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

One thought on “The Drollery of T.E. Lawrence”

  1. I recall that in that same exchange, the copy editor questioned Lawrence’s rendering of a place name. The query went, I think, something like this:
    editor: Jiddah, or Jeddah–intentional?
    Lawrence: Rather!

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