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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Edward Garnett


[postmarked Bovington]
4. X. 23.

The Hudson's are sumptuous. How well the old man reads in them. The Shepherd has found two friendly readers already: yet I like better, much better, the memories of his childhood.

Wonderful that one man should have written that, and Patagonia, and The Purple Land, and Green Mansions: and I go about thinking that into his first book anyone not a born writer can put all that his spirit holds.

Hudson is hardly a born writer, either. Not for him that frenzied aching delight in a pattern of words which happen to run true. Do you know that lately I have been finding my deepest satisfaction in the collocation of words so ordinary and plain that they cannot mean anything to a book-jaded mind: and out of some of such I can draw deep stuff. Is it perhaps that certain sequences of vowels or consonants imply more than others: that writing of this sort has music in it? I don't want to affirm it, and yet I would not deny it: for if writing can have sense (and it has: this letter has) and sound why shouldn't it have something of pattern too? My sequences seem to be independent of ear... to impose themselves through the eye alone. I achieved a good many of them in Le Gigantesque: but fortuitously for the most part.

Do you think that people ever write consciously well? or does that imply an inordinate love for the material, and so ruin the art? I don't see that it should. A sculptor who petted his marbles from sheer joy in their grain and fineness would (pari passu) be better than a mere block-butcher. In scathing me for wasting my talent in an unproductive way you miss that I do it perversely and on purpose: that I came here to wipe out my inconvenient power of doing things at other people's bidding. Here they only bid me scrub floors or dig holes or move things material like mountains: and such ruck-jobs (while they irk very deeply) give me a wholesome secure feeling that I am harmlessly employed.

Of course it would be better to be benefiting humanity: but I don't see how I can, when I disbelieve in my own products. And better do nothing than make Gigantesques. I said in The Seven Pillars that I'd botch another man's work and better it: but would create nothing more my own.

More thanks for the Hudsons.

T.E.

Robin Buxton (a humane banker) suggests 120 copies of The Seven Pillars, with all pictures, at perhaps £25 each, if that would cover charges. I feel tempted....

Source: DG 433-4
Checked: mv/
Last revised: 23 February 2006


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