Item 25 - Letter from Arthur Waley to R. C. Trevelyan

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Letter from Arthur Waley to R. C. Trevelyan


  • 13 Oct [1918?] (Creation)

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13, Hanover Terrance, Ladbroke Grove, W. - Apologises for not writing sooner; has heard 'a good deal' about Trevelyan from Francis [Birrell?], [Goldsworthy Lowes] Dickinson and [Harry] Norton. Is working on Li Po 'in deference to the wishes of the public', translating, amongst others 'about 15 that have been done before' by Giles, St-Denys, Pound and so on; when it is printed, it may 'amuse' Trevelyan to compare the versions. Has not changed his own opinion of Li Po at all, but is 'taking a lot of trouble with him', he thinks he may be 'making him seem better than he is'. Impossible to get across in translation that Li Po is 'so largely a patchwork': for instance, the reference in the "River Merchant's Wife" to Wei who appears in 'the "Robber Che [Chih]" (chapter 29 of "Chuang Tzu" [Zhuangzi])", or that in another poem to the sailor with whom seagulls played in "Lieh Tzu [Liezi]"; St-Denys had obviously never read Lieh Tzu. The Oxford [University] Press has accepted his "Japanese Poetry: the Uta", which will come out in the spring. Heard a story about Alix [Sargant Florence] in Cornwall: she wanted to try the cream, but was told it 'would only be sold in compliance with a doctor's certificate', so she wrote to James [Strachey] to get one from Noel [Olivier] who refused; supposes this was when she and Norton were in Cornwall. Now she is there with James, who has flu. Lytton is also ill, with shingles. Rather likes Fredegond [Shove]'s poems ["Dreams and Journeys"?] except for 'the sonnets & the mysticism; Norton 'complained they reminded him of country holidays'. Has talked to Adrian Stephen a few times at the [1917?] Club, and likes him 'better than Norton, or Clive [Bell], or James'. Asks if Trevelyan has seen W. H. Davies's new book; has not read it properly himself, but there are some 'good things in it'. Davies was recently annoyed that the newspapers had described his clothes at a poetry reading as 'homely', when his 'buttons alone cost more than anything Yeats had on'. Has had a 'very kind and generous letter from Cranmer-Byng, a quite unsollicited [sic] "peccavi"'.

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