T. E. Lawrence to Lionel Curtis
My lord and prophet,
How can I write to a man who says he is going to Honolulu? I ask you.... It sounds like a name in a song in variety. And you are just back from S. Africa: and they have killed Kevin O'Higgins, so now you will have to rip back to Dublin. Out upon all this coil of affairs, say I. At least, when I travel, I carry the R.A.F. with me. I move from one service bed to another service bed, from one standard barrack to another standard barrack: from one ration meal to another ration meal. Uniformity is my bed fellow. Your life is chaos. Chaos breeds life: whereas by habit and regularity comes death, quickly.
The Coffee Room of All Souls now has or should have a copy of my Seven Pillars: so that the supply of pilgrims to Halescroft may be cut off without cruelty.
Robert Graves is writing a life of me for Doran, who ramped about England asking many of the worst people to do it. Said he wanted something true. Apparently Revolt in the Desert isn't finally convincing to all tastes. On the whole better Robert Graves than another. He is a decent fellow, does not know too much about me: will think out some psychologically plausible explanation of my spiritual divagations: and will therefore help to lay at rest the uneasy ghost which seems to have stayed in England when I went abroad.
But don't imagine that The Seven Pillars is great literature. It isn't: but it's one of the best dressed imitations of a book you'll ever see. If only I'd been able to carry the Bank with me, to add a couple of thousand more to the overdraft, and had made The Seven Pillars by that much better. I could ruin most glorio4sly any publisher who would give me a free hand.
I doubt whether D.G.H. would take Magdalen now. Ambition doesn't always die out in Middle Age: and he makes full use of his leisure now. Of course, though, he may leave the Ashmolean soon, and then he might accept.
Poor old Egerton. Hard to die in pain after living so long. Nearly all those old dons have gone, now.
Sir Robert Borden may make All Souls wise: but hardly witty. However P.H.K. must have his occasional joke. The terror-to-come is that his advancing front line may give him capacity for very frequent jokes in time. Warn me when his third chin detaches itself from the second.
You are now on your way to Lake Superior, or to some rocky part of Canada in a Canoe. Well, well. I'll be in Karachi till further notice. That may be, I'm given to understand, only till 1930! Joy.
I have an idea I wrote you a duplicate of this letter last week. I often mean to write letters. If people would only take the intention for the deed life would be easier.
|Last revised:||13 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