T. E. Lawrence to Edward Garnett
[Postmarked Drigh Road]
[50 lines omitted] Robert Graves is writing something elementary and plain about me, to Doran's commission. Gawd help 'em.
I'd call Figgis better than O'Flaherty, though I've only got this one novel of his to go upon: and am judging O'F. by The Informer, and The Black Soul, neither of them the work of a man standing on his own two feet. However O'F. is alive and F. is dead, so perhaps you are right. It seemed to me that F. really got the weather and the hills and the water of the sea into his pages, dwarfing his peasants, whose puny minds faded out, in the process. Whereas O'F.'s people are bigger than his background.
Mrs. Shaw was not consulted on the Hospital Chapter. I cut it out so that there should not be an emotional climax at the end of Revolt. Revolt's top note now comes during the retreat about Deraa and Tafas: just as The Seven Pillars top note comes in the earlier chapter of our ride to the Bridges and failures after them. The Seven Pillars is altogether higher in key than Revolt, and could carry the hospital chapter without it seeming in any way conspicuous. Whereas it would have stuck out of Revolt like a raisin in a sponge cake. My sense of proportion made me sacrifice purple bit after purple bit, in selecting the pages to comprise Revolt, and I don't see why the hospital instance should seem worse to you than the rest. If you read Seven Pillars you'll see that its entirely different to Revolt. Revolt parodies S.P.
When an Arab did something individual and intelligent during the war I would call him to me, and opening a bag of sovereigns would say, 'Put in your hand', and this was thought the very height of splendour. Yet it was never more than £120: but the exercise of spreading and burying your fingers in the gold made it feel better than a cold-blooded counting out of two or three hundred pounds.
To have your mouth filled must have been beastly.
Do look, some week-end, at your fat book, and tell me if it isn't better, as a design (damn its ornaments) than it was.
|Last revised:||9 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