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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to A. E. Chambers


21.3.23

Dear Jock,

It makes a good letter: but god help you if ever you decide to write a book. Your bill for raw paper!

To start Sartor requires courage. To finish it is pretty near folly, to my mind. I don't think Carlyle was quite the best possible (as H.M. was) and I don't think he has much to say to the mind of 1923. Some day people will draw pleasure from him: but not us.

You want to know about Lilith! I once read a mediaeval German philosopher (in Latin) who made her a great figure in the first world: but I forget his name and his book hadn't a name. Look up Lilith in the Encyclopaedia Brit. and see if they refer you to other authorities. The only thing I've ever seen in English about her is Rossetti's poem, and that is more beautiful than informing. I've written to a learned man who lives near a reference library, and he perhaps will reply to the point - but I haven't a book dealing with the lady, and she's so rare an interest that all her books will be even rarer. However patience and hope.

The British Museum allow no books to be taken outside their Reading Room. It's an Act of Parliament says so. For books to borrow and read at home you would have to go, for educational books to the Workers Educational Association, who have a very decent library, and are very decent to deal with... and for more learned books to the London Library. The W.E.A. is run by Albert Mansbridge, a very earnest but excellent man. The L.L. by Dr. Hagbert Write [sic] a scholar with an international reputation. Let me know which you choose and I'll write the proper him a letter smoothing your path.

Yes, it was hard luck that my A.C.IIship should have come upon two such as [name omitted] and [name omitted] conjoined. I bear them a grudge, because I liked B.iii and the R.A.F. and this Army life feels very drab in comparison. Also you know we really were a decent crowd: and the present lot with me are the sort who'd always throw something at any cat they saw. It's a moral difference, I feel, and unless I can get over it I'll find myself solitary again.

The camp is beautifully put - a wide heath, of flint and sand, with pines and oak-trees, and much rhododendron coming slowly into bloom. When the heather flowers in a few weeks there will be enough to please me.

One of my sorrows is the recruits' course (new name, naturally, new age, no previous service) and a consequent imprisonment in the camp for a month, being damnably shouted at.

No there's no book coming out yet. You don't call it selfish of some women to refuse to any man what prostitutes give: and so why should I expose myself for money, or for others' edification? Besides, is it edification? Often I think the book is a pernicious one.

Regard me to B3. My only present likeness to it is another corner bed!

Yours

R.

The W.E.A. is in Eccleston Sq. near Victoria. The L.L. in S. James' Square. The L.L. would cost a little.

Source: DG 402-4
Checked: mv/
Last revised: 19 February 2006


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