Sea and Sardinia.
'It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire', quipped Austen in Pride and Prejudice; Lawrence, hastening through the cathedral at Cagliari, made similar disclaimers about rivalling Baedeker. What kind of travel book was it Lawrence's object to write in Sea and Sardinia, a work which has had fewer readers than Pride and Prejudice, but has given almost equal delight? Mara Kalnins's edition makes it possible to answer the question with new accuracy.
On 4 January 1921, the Lawrences left Taormina, on the east coast of Sicily, and travelled to Palermo. Nine days later, they were back in Palermo; the narrative closes with their visit to a marionette performance of the Paladin cycle. Lawrence completed the single draft of Sea and Sardinia in a month. The typist took another month to prepare one ribbon and two carbon copies, which all survive. Difficulty finding illustrations was solved by Jan Juta's visiting Sardinia in June and preparing eight water-colours. In Taormina, the manuscript was sent to do ignominious service in the WC. Lawrence's American publisher, Thomas Seltzer, quietly expurgated the ribbon typescript he received. Hurrying to get the book on the shelves for Christmas, he did not send proofs. The carbon typescript sent to London went missing, and the first English edition was based on Seltzer's.
The disposal of the too-sullied manuscript and non-correction of proofs remain cause for regret. The Lawrences' travelling companions on the train to Mandas are a fat peasant and his 'long, brown stalk of a wife'. When they alight for a short stop, the husband successfully reboards the train while, to everyone's distress, 'the long brown stork of a wife' is left stranded on the platform. One cannot know whether the metamorphosis of wife to bird is typist error or authorial word-play. Following the Cambridge edition's principle of authorial last intentions, Kalnins can correct many Seltzer errors. Hampered by Cambridge policy, she is unable to include Juta's illustrations, an omission which makes nonsense of authorial intentions: Lawrence fought for inclusion of the reproductions. It is, however, the blue pencil on Lawrence manuscripts which has made authorial intentions a salutary procedure for editing his works. Using the ribbon typescript for base-text, Kalnins restores what Seltzer cut.
Some excisions were political. The disappearance of flocks of donkeys from Sardinia's hills is not the result of war, Lawrence decides, but 'the war-masters ... Germany did not ruin Italy - Italy ruined Italy'. Seltzer let stand the denunciation of profiteers but removed the exculpation of Germany. In the last chapter, he slashed a paragraph on a German painter with a 'please-let-me-live' look. Seltzer also bowdlerized any mention of the traveller's besetting difficulty, finding somewhere to relieve himself. There are no 'privies' in Seltzer's Sardinia; not even animals exert the lower body. A description of goats is closer to Lawrence's poem, 'She-Goat', now that the 'she-goat's ill-mannered reply' to being addressed- 'crouch[ing] down to make water, self-consciously' - has been restored. Later, Seltzer tried to delete all reference to animal excretion and sexuality in Bird, Beasts and Flowers. Lawrence himself ensured his poems were not reduced to namby-pamby eclogues; his cautionary toilet humour has been closeted seventy-five years.
The most important restorations from the typescript are the divider lines which impart a new rhythm to the imagistic descriptions and aphoristic reflections of Lawrence's travel writing. They make clear why Lawrence thought of calling the book Sardinian Films. Explanatory notes supply the Baedekerian omissions from the narrative, and help elucidate a mythic subtext in the journey.
CHRISTOPHER POLLNITZ University of Newcastle, New South Wales
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|Publication:||Notes and Queries|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 1998|
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