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T. E. Lawrence to Edward Garnett


Tuesday 6. 4. 26

Your letter has interested me much: though you vitiate your thinking by the assumption that books are meant to be read. They are to be written only.

The abridgement is better than the complete text. Half a calamity is better than a whole one. By excising heights and depths I have made a balanced thing: yet I share your difficulty of seeing the shorter version's real shape across the gaps.

Specific points.

(i) The ending. I was overpersuaded to stop on page 644. The natural place is after 'sun', on line 35 of page 635. It fulfils your demands for balance and reflection and sordidness among the triumphs. Pages 632 and 633 are the philosophic climax of the narrative.

If you will consider anew, and approve this new FINIS, will you then please so amend your text, and also cross out 'a' before 'pearl' in the last line of the revised version.

Your statement that the hospital passage would be a wipe in the eye for 19 readers out of 20 puts it out of court, as I put it. This abridgement is to be fit for girl guides

(ii) To include the death of Farraj meant the restoration of many pages, to explain it. The 'private delectation' of 115 people is better than the public delectation of 10,000 My men are not to walk the common street.

Me to write again? God forbid. I do not bear another misshaped child. C'est fini. If only I'd had the courage to destroy this one in time.

Yours ever,

T.E.S.

Left handwriting constrains to brevity.

Note: This letter refers to Lawrence's draft abridgement of the subscribers' text of Seven Pillars, to be published in 1927 as Revolt in the Desert.

Source: DG 494-5
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 27 January 2006


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