It´s been said that T.E Lawrence lost the original manuscript of his most famous work, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, after leaving it inside a telephone booth, moments before catching a one-way train that would take him far away. Though the re-draft of the book was met with extraordinary acclaim, the author, as well as those who had seen the original, always maintained that the first version was better than the one we see today.
Readers may or may not realise that this has little to do with the literary and historical merits of the two versions. The reason – whether believed or not – has more to do with how the pages of the manuscript of the novel were used as cigarette rolling papers during Stalingrad. Could there be a more literary gesture? Literature up in smoke – it couldn´t fail to be his masterpiece, his best work.
Lost books, all those never published or written, are an essential part – if not the most essential part – of literature. This sense of regret is what drives many to continue writing. One such story is the legendary never-published tome in which Albert Hannover related the sessions between Lou Andreas Salomé and Sigmund Freud, where she taught him about the psychoanalysis of Viena. The well-known story is that whilst perusing the old, hidden libraries in Caledonian Road, London, Hannover came across an October 1894 volume of The Yellow Book, edited by Aubrey Beardsley, which had an error on page 18. Though his activities as a double agent (maybe even triple) were sporadic, and often unclear, what is certain is that one day, Hannover also came across, in the sadly now extinct library of Marxist theory in Finsbury Park, a folder which contained what seemed to be the notes made by Lou-Andreas Salomé during her time in Viena with Freud.
One night, after returning to the house in Grand Parade he had been staying in whilst working on a performance of Tristan and Isolde, the contents of the folder, as well as an unfinished book, which had been on been on his laptop, had totally disappeared, along with music, videos and dozens of CDs. The thieves had appeared to have broken in through the balcony.
We can´t read the book, but we can visit the city. If you rent apartments in Vienna , perhaps you´ll remember this story, and delve into your subconscious.
Translated by: Poppy