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Review commentary by Jeremy Wilson on Lawrence, the Uncrowned King of Arabia by Michael Asher

(London, Viking, 1998)

previous page | Page 21 | Chapter 3 

Chapter 2: Dominus Illuminatio Mea
Schooldays, 1896-1905 (10 pages)

30/1/15  "the school fear hanging over one - that haphazardly suspended punishment which made my years between eight and eighteen a misery." The reference for this (reference 23) is completely wrong. It points to a letter to Charlotte Shaw printed in Malcolm Brown's Letters page 305, in which there is a passage about Lawrence's schooldays; but it is not this one. In reality the "quote" appears to be a corrupt transcription from The Mint part 2 chapter 19, penultimate para: "there is the school-fear over me, that working against hazardously suspended penalty which made my life from eight to eighteen miserable, and Oxford, after it, so noble a freedom."
30/1/17 "Far from being the 'delight and profit' she might have wished, Sarah destroyed Lawrence's life and made certain that he would never achieve happiness or fulfilment." I don't in the least agree with this statement, which seems to me to be simplistic psycho-babble. The highly speculative sentences that follow are hardly better, e.g. "in her own mind she [Sarah Lawrence] was still the terrified little girl who would never know why she had been so heinously abandoned to the whims of the dark universe." This is complete fiction.
30/1/end of page. The unstated source for Asher's story about Sarah Lawrence and A. W. Lawrence's marriage is John E. Mack, A Prince of Our Disorder, Boston, Little, Brown, 1976, p. 474 note 50 (the story is accurately quoted/summarised here). A.W. Lawrence's sense of confusion, assuming that it was not pure coincidence, would have resulted from his anticipation of her reaction, rather than thought-transmission between England and Greece.
31/1/11 "his great task in life was to escape from her." Surely a greatly over-simplified conclusion?
31/2 Neither the exact date, nor the duration, nor the precise cause of Lawrence's boyhood enlistment are known. It is reasonable to point to the various factors that might have played a part, but hardly in quite so certain a manner as Asher: "Sarah disapproved [of Lawrence's wish to switch from mathematics to history], sensing instinctively a move away from her. The matter became contentious". This sentence too is fiction. Next page.

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