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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Edward Garnett

[postmarked Farnborough]


No, I couldn't come to you last Sunday. Have been having a hectic time of late, and didn't write because I was firmly of a mind not to publish anything of The Seven Pillars. I am still like that. Meanwhile my second self carries on correcting your abridgement, under the greatest difficulties. It's nearly hopeless to do it decently, in such distractions. I can't get enough time to read through any paragraph hard enough to catch its rhythm: and to feel that my corrections probably aren't any good discourages my doing them. Actually I'm at Chapter 35, and very little beyond your erasures has as yet come out.

Address now No. 352087, A.C. 2 Ross, B. 3 Block, S.O.P., R.A.F., South Farnborough, Hants.

S.O.P. means School of Photography. It sounds bad. Lady into Fox is very remarkable. I sandwiched it between Flecker's Hassan, and the Religio Medici: and it kept its character. So there is more than skill to it. It's what I mean by style: but I'm sorry for the sophisticated simplicity. That's decadence. If a man is not simple by nature he cannot be simple by art, and if he tries he only achieves a falseness. You can only (if complex) get simplicity by my 'third degree': by distilling a scene into quintessential action.

I hope to come up shortly: but if possible after getting half-way in the abridgement, so that we'll have something to discuss. Am getting keen on the R.A.F. Was writing freely about Uxbridge when they snatched me away from it. This place is easier, but less intense and interesting - however after two months perhaps it too will shape itself to something in my wits.


Source: DG 376-7
Checked: mv/
Last revised: 18 February 2006

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