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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Eric Kennington


[R.A.F. Depot,
Uxbridge]

27. X. 22

Dear Kennington,

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.

E.L.

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.

Source: DG 372-3
Checked: mv/
Last revised: 18 February 2006


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