T. E. Lawrence to David Garnett
I send back your flying notes. They are uncommonly well done, and have pretensions - or at least they achieve effects, and such things seldom come unawares. I think they are the beginnings of a most excellent (and widely sold) handbook on the art of amateur flying. Keep them going till the solo day has come, and after it for any out-of-the-way-yet-communicable flights: and the result will be a joy to everyone who likes the air. They feel so real and direct and modestly true. Very good.
I'm sorry E.G. does not approve your manly skill: for your power of writing in these pages would delight his critical sense. It is nervous and exacting prose. Few pilots are really born - none after 21 years old - but almost every man alive can be made a pilot. I think you will find Moths easier than Bluebirds to land. Cross-country work is the best part of flying. I hate stunting, and everybody hates being stunted.
My life, as you very rightly should have said, does not count, just now. Homer is ¾ finished and going hard - not strong, certainly. Otherwise it is just R.A.F.: quietly content. I have nothing of my own to write, and no leave due till April next, and perhaps not then.
I have been owing you a letter for months over Shakespeare III. I hope this great work (it establishes itself each time I read it as the only Shakespeare) is not straining the Nonesuch resources too much in this lean time. Everybody is very hard hit and the luxury book will suffer.
Imitation being a compliment, you would enjoy seeing the Faust produced by the Bremer Press in Munich lately. It is not so well done, but cheaper.
Actually I am still reading Shakespeare II, having taken the chance of what I hope is the slow production of your edition to read him all through again. Parts are very heavy and very bad: and then the next page will take one's breath. What a queer great man. Dimly I feel that something went so wrong with his life that he lost heart, foreswore London, and abandoned his work. I wonder. It could only be some internal vice, for nothing from outside could hurt such a one.
I should like to come up towards the flat lands again, but cannot. The Odyssey must finish before the spring and that means 45 hours a week - on top of my R.A.F. 48 hours: and that makes a full working day all through, without the indulgence of weekends. Fly down to me, some day, instead!
They give the actual feel of being in the cockpit and looking out. So few people are qualified both in foreground and background, that makes them so satisfyingly true.
|Last revised:||31 January 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