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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Eric Kennington

Grand Continental Hotel

1 October. [1921]

Dear Kennington,

Your letter today. It made me realise that I never wrote to you from Jidda to explain my wire stopping W. & G. Peccavi: always I have. Why does a person who fails to write letters feel unfit to live? There's nothing wrong in it: and the feeling is sterile, because it does not make one write. Now I owe you two or three letters.

The reasons for stopping work are three. I do not know their order of magnitude. A lump of money I was expecting has not (probably will not) come. My house in Epping has been burnt down. In the leisure hours of this trip I have read half the manuscript of my book: and condemned it. Not good enough to publish, because it isn't as good as I can make it, (unless I deceive myself).

The stoppage is only to prevent too big a bill this year. Next year I will have more money, and will be able to carry on. Meanwhile I'll he barely solvent. Penury is as mean an ill as toothache. The job will go through none the less. I'm glad you find it good: am looking forward to seeing Ghalib on my return.

The return is yet vague. Tomorrow I go to Trans-Jordan, to end that farce. It makes me feel like a baby-killer. The last two months I've been in the Red Sea, and things are not ended there. I'd like to come home before ending them: if I am to end them. So perhaps at the end of October? God knows.

The preface I have now forgotten all the sense and shape of, except that it was too long. As it is forgotten it must have been light, and little-thought-on. Aden is not good for work: and I'd written a good one in London after seeing the collection, and left it buried somewhere. However I hope the show goes well. Prefaces are only excuses (by the salesman) for charging a shilling for the catalogue.

What more? Nothing. I'm bored stiff: and very tired, and a little ill, and sorry to see how mean some people I wanted to respect have grown. The war was good by drawing over our depths that hot surface wish to do or win something. So the cargo of the ship was unseen, and not thought of. This life goes on till February 28 next year.

Au 'voir


Note. W & G - Whittingham & Griggs, who were to print the colour illustrations for Lawrence's projected edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Source: DG 333-4
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 26 January 2006

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