London: 24 April 1884.
3 pages on a bifolium of Macmillan & Co. letterhead. 1 vols. 12mo. ‘Upon no theory of scholarship is the style tolerable …’. Narrow trace of old mount on left margin of first page. Very good plus Item #311070
Remarkable letter from publisher Alexander Macmillan to Trelawney Saunders, India Office cartographer, concerning the earliest responses to Charles M. Doughty’s Travels in Arabia Deserta, the literary record of his two years’ residence in the Arabian peninsula:
"Not once or twice but many times have attempts been made to read Mr Doughty’s MS, by ourselves as well as by one of the ablest men we know.
Upon no theory of scholarship is the style tolerable. Your parallel with Carlyle is wholly inapposite. We have a letter written by the Rev Dr Badger in which he says “The singularly simple author entertained a latent vision of improving modern English by means of his book, but I told him plainly that no publisher would print it in its present form, and that if he wished to get readers for his travels he must get his MS rewritten.” Personally I like Mr Doughty exceedingly and should have been glad to publish his book, if it had been publishable which it is not. I quite agree with what you say about the inadvisability of his book being altered by any one but himself, and do not think Dr Badger’s suggestion, that it should be rewritten by another, practicable.
Your map of Arabia seems excellent.
P.S. if you are passing this way I should be glad to see you."
Doughty presented a paper on his travels to the Royal Geographical Society in November 1883, but it was only in 1884 that the manuscript of Arabia Deserta began to circulate among publishers (see Hogarth’s Life of Charles M. Doughty, pp. 115-6).
Saunders had acknowledged the highly individual characteristics of Doughty’s prose in a paper for the Royal Geographical Society, making the analogy with Carlyle but immediately remarking on the “injustice” of such a comparison. The Rev. Dr. Badger is George Percy Badger (1815-1888), author of The Nestorians and Their Rituals (1852) and numerous other works.
Travels in Arabia Deserta was ultimately published by the Cambridge University Press in an edition of 500 copies in 1888.
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