Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Eric Kennington
27. X. 22
This should have been written when I got back: but my time here is so utterly at others' mercy that I hope you will excuse me.
Your drawings are wonderful. The dysentery, the nightmare, the snow-storm: I never imagined my chance of getting such pictures. The tangled thought is only less good than these.
I remember the dead-village-at-night as a horrible and powerful thing. I hope you will pass it finally.
The last dream is wonderful at top and bottom: but the middle is either too restless, or not right. I've been pondering since if I meant or thought of cities while I worked: the Arab East to me is always an empty place: and I don't know whether just open country: with perhaps a settlement in the distance: or hills: (and hills) I don't know.
There's a hypnotic suggestiveness about your work, which makes me give in to it, when I stare at it. So I like the dream very much in retrospect. Don't you think it might do if you just scratched out half the windows, or made them fewer houses - or blotted one half of the town out. There was a little bit of land behind the palm tree, leading to the sword, which felt peaceful.
The sword was odd. The Arab Movement was one: Feisal another (his name means a flashing sword): then there is the excluded notion, Garden of Eden touch: and the division meaning, like the sword in the bed of mixed sleeping, from the Morte d'Arthur. I don't know which was in your mind, but they all came to me - and the sword also means clean-ness, and death.
The comic drawings are what I hoped for: but in the light of the imaginative ones they go rather pale. Still, like the book itself, the pictures mustn't all be mountain peaks: it would be a better book if it had more soft and smooth places in it, where people could rest their minds before a new march: and the comic drawings will provide what I didn't.
I've written off in search of Jedda Wilson, since he may be in England now, and if so your drawing him would fill a big gap.
Roberts has sent me Buxton's head. That makes two I have to show you.
I hear (third hand) that Nicholson has done Clayton. Details later. I've written to Clayton to find out.
Will come up in a week or ten days and search for you.
I'm sorry for bothering you so frequently and at such length with my doubts over publication. I hate the notion of it more than I can say: and there is no doubt that I will have to do it, some time: and the motive will be money, from which I have always hitherto steered clear.
|Last revised:||18 February 2006|
T. E. Lawrence chronology
1888 16 August: born at Tremadoc, Wales
1896-1907: City of Oxford High School for Boys
1907-9: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1st Class Hons, 1909
1910-14: Magdalen College, Oxford (Senior Demy), while working at the British Museum's excavations at Carchemish
1915-16: Military Intelligence Dept, Cairo
1916-18: Liaison Officer with the Arab Revolt
1919: Attended the Paris Peace Conference
1919-22: wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1921-2: Adviser on Arab Affairs to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office
1922 August: Enlisted in the Ranks of the RAF
1923 January: discharged from the RAF
1923 March: enlisted in the Tank Corps
1923: translated a French novel, The Forest Giant
1924-6: prepared the subscribers' abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1927-8: stationed at Karachi, then Miranshah
1927 March: Revolt in the Desert, an abridgement of Seven Pillars, published
1928: completed The Mint, began translating Homer's Odyssey
1929-33: stationed at Plymouth
1931: started working on RAF boats
1932: his translation of the Odyssey published
1933-5: attached to MAEE, Felixstowe
1935 February: retired from the RAF
1935 19 May: died from injuries received in a motor-cycle crash on 13 May
1935 21 May: buried at Moreton, Dorset