T. E. Lawrence to Robert Graves
Months since I felt moved to write to anyone: and now I think it's only because I ought to write elsewhere. And I haven't any paper.
The others in the hut are singing about Loch Lomond. It makes an undertone to the letter, without which you won't understand its horridness.
We live here in a suspension of mental activity, in a passivity of life which produces, for me, an impression of intense stillness... the hush in which one can hear time ticking away, outside, helplessly. I've cured myself of every wish to do anything or see anyone; unless the thing is ordered, it slides, so far as I am concerned. Nirvana perhaps: but there isn't a desire for nescience... it's just a letting slide off all of myself except the physical.
The other fellows are, as animals, so hugely more active and vital than myself, that my self-estimation justifies its lowly instinct. There are few animal spirits in me: and I'd not willingly have more.
How do your ways lie? You are writing more than usual: reviews, articles, all sorts of prose. It seems to me a good arm to put forth. The poems were getting too tight to breathe easily; and the exercise of ad hoc prose will loosen your spiritual arms.
Did you ever think of writing an official history? I've just explained to the powers that they would waste paper in suggesting me as the continuator of Raleigh's History of the Royal Air Force in the War. I'm so homesick to be back in it that the writing of it would be one misery. They don't know whom to ask. Hogarth did a little and then threw it up. It's a three year job, worth £600—800 a year. See Hogarth if you are tempted. He would tell you how to put in for it. My aim is to prevent, at all costs, its becoming an 'official' history: and the Air Ministry are on the same side.
|Last revised:||28 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