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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to F. N. Doubleday


March 20, 1920.

Effendim (this is more formal than Effendi, and not servile like Effendina).

I expect Florida is now finished for you. I refrained from writing before, since your holiday ought not to be profaned. The Garden City book came to me correctly: what a beautiful place you have! It must be great fun trying to work there: do you go out and count the cedar trees instead, sometimes?

It gave me rather a shock to realise for the first time what a plutocrat you must be. However it doesn't matter, because I’m not a Bolshevik, merely a person who doesn't care sufficiently about money to try hard to make any. My father was kind to me, and spent none of the capital he received from his father... and unless I marry non-self-supporting wives or have children, all will be well with me. My present burst of labour is only to find enough cash to build myself a house.

However I won't talk shop: the book is in hand, and likely to remain there.

There are two little bindings by me, which might interest you, or your French artists, and when I have another fit of paper and string I'll send them across. One is a rarity, a Ricketts binding in pigskin: he usually kept to vellum, and was not very good at it. This, in white pigskin, on the contrary seems to me charming. The other is a rather florid piece of de Santy. He's stopped work, so I presume it is acquiring unearned increment: but I don't much like de Santy.

As for hand-made paper: it ceased during the war, but they are now beginning again to manufacture. If you print my Seven Pillars I'll send a ream across, and then we can pull a large paper copy for you and one for me. Or do you regard such parerga as Mr. Henry Ford regards 'outside specifications'?

I don't like bothering Kipling with my problems, and so have not kept up correspondence: perhaps if the thing is ever finished to my taste I'll ask him for the kindness of an opinion on doubtful points: but he must be very busy, and I'm not a literary artist. It would be like asking Sargent to advise on the colour of one's street door.

No I didn't see Bott afterwards. You know a Mr. Lowell Thomas made me a kind of matinee idol: so I dropped my name so far as London is concerned and live peacefully in anonymity. Only my people in Oxford know of my address. It isn't that I hate being known - I'd love it - but I can't afford it: no one gets so victimised by well-meaning people as a poor celebrity. Also now I'm trying to write, which is a trouble to me, and there are the books produced since 1914 for me to read. So that I'm too busy to care about meeting people.

You know, publishing Conrad must be a rare pleasure. He's absolutely the most haunting thing in prose that ever was: I wish I knew how every paragraph he writes (do you notice they are all paragraphs: he seldom writes a single sentence?) goes on sounding in waves, like the note of a tenor bell, after it stops. It's not built on the rhythm of ordinary prose, but on something existing only in his head, and as he can never say what it is he wants to say, all his things end in a kind of hunger, a suggestion of something he can't say or do or think. So his books always look bigger than they are. He's as much a giant of the subjective as Kipling is of the objective. Do they hate one another?

Yours ever

T.E.L.

P.S. Please remind Mrs. Doubleday that her wishes last time were expressed in a margin: an afterthought of your pen: therefore I put my second sending of regard of the very kindest in the postscript. It is the most important part of the letter.

Source: DG 300-302
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 24 January 2006

 

 



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