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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!


T.E. Shaw

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.

Source: DG 705-6
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 31 January 2006

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