T. E. Lawrence to Edward Garnett
That Minister's Daughter by Hildur Dixelius, is a very very very excellent book: one of the rarest and ripest things I've met for the last couple of years. The real stuff. It is going to rest amongst my permanent collection of books, (which are being kept and used by one Richards, a Welsh metaphysician in St. John's Wood, against the hypothetical and probably-never-to-come -day when I'll have a whole room of my permanent own in which to read permanent books again): but before that I'll have to get it bound quietly. This present cover is too bounding altogether. Is that Yank taste? Doran has made my Revolt a proper yellow dog, at his end, despite Cape's example. Rosa I did not much like.
Your exploration of Pembrokeshire must have been enjoyable for you. Its southern part has somehow avoided the remaining Welsh. Some Fleming colony, I believe they said it was. They talk a beautiful soft English, and build white cottages with chimneys as big as abutments. The coast line is also beautiful, in my recollection. I remember the green of the land running down nearly into the sea. What was lovely about Galilee, in Palestine, was that green grass grew, in Genesaret, right into the very (sweet) water. But cottages aren't for me, now. Didn't I tell you what I hope for, when I come out of the R.A.F.? Robin Buxton, my banker, and now Trustee, is going to try and get me a night job in the city, either as a watchman in a Bank, or caretaker in a group of offices. They pay fairly: it is a quiet employment, whose only necessary qualification is honesty: and the work is not hard. I expect, you know, to fall into age quite suddenly, as I did into middle age on landing here. My eyes are troubling me, so that I can't read much, or see clearly what I write. I'm going a bit deaf: and they say (I can't see my own head) that my hair is now thick with white hairs. I take it that quite likely by 1935 I'll require an occupation which is slow, and full of sitting down. On the other hand, return to England might cheer me up to a few more years of motor-cycle madness. Who knows?
That Barker Fairley book on Doughty spoiled itself, by trying to do too much. He maintained that the form of A.D. and of Dawn in Britain was subtle, and designed, and balanced, and cumulative. I think it was accident; and a bad accident. Doughty seems wholly to have lacked the strategic eye which plans a campaign, as the sub-commander plans a battle, or the company officer a trench raid, or the soldier a bayonet-thrust. A.D. is hampered by its lack of form, less only than Dawn, because there was a basis of fact to follow, and life isn't as shapeless as unassisted and undisciplined art. Why I think The Seven Pillars, that untidy general-provider, is better planned than A.D.! That's saying nothing much, either. Both are rotten bad: but A.D. has the merits of magnificence in its materials, its vision, its attitude, its prose, its poetry, its author. Whereas the poor S.P.!
Yet your son seems to like The S.P. Why not give him your second copy for a Christmas present? Thanks to the speculative booksellers it's become a decent present.
Lucifer and Eve? No: I've never thought of them. Bother all women. They seem to upset the people I like.
|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