his still unfinished work on Byzantine Art

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone! I would like to know what "his still unfinished work on Byzantine Art" means in the following sentences:

"Collins made notes for a little thesis pointing out the inferiority of the original mosaics to their photographs. Here was planted the seed of what became his life's harvest. When, many years later, there appeared the first massive volume of his still unfinished work on Byzantine Art, I was touched to find among two pages of polite, preliminary acknowledgements of debt, my own name: "...to Charles Ryder, with the aid of whose all-seeing eyes I first saw the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia and San Vitale..."

This is an excerpt from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. The narrator Charles Ryder and his scholarly friend Collins went on a trip to Ravenna in Italy. Although Charles found the trip boring, Collins took this opportunity to prepare for his little thesis, which later developed into his lifetime harvest. And many years later, Charles was touched to find his name among acknowledgements in the book wrote by Collins.

I have difficulties understanding the underlined part, and my assumptions are thus:

1) (the first volume was part of his lifetime work) Collins' lifetime work on Byzantine Art was so grand that by the time Charles wrote this sentence, which was many years after the trip, the work was still unfinished. Still, when some time ago his first volume on Byzantine Art was published, Charles was touched. (Charles was 39 years old by the way when he looked back and wrote these sentences.)

2) (the first volume = his work) Collins' first book was very massive and it was still not yet complete when he showed Charles his book. (It was undergoing editing, or whatever.)

3) Or some other meaning that I could not guess.

I would very much appreciate your help.
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Collins did not show Charles the book. Collins is still (in the early 1940s, when Charles is narrating the story) writing his work on Byzantine Art. That work is being published over time in multiple volumes, all of which have not yet been completed. When the first volume of this multi-volume work was published, Charles acquired a copy, and found his own name in the acknowledgements at the start of the book.

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear GreenWhiteBlue,

    Thank you very much for your clear explanation!
    So "still" meant now, in the early 1940's, and the "work" specifically meant writings.
    I truly appreciate your help. :)
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