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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to John Buchan


  Plymouth

22.VIII.31

Dear J.B.,

Your letter about my not writing a life of Alexander has been reproaching me for so long that I must pluck up courage to answer and forget it.

I don't think I am ever likely to write anything of my own again. They pay me for translating things, and that's exercise enough with words to allay and more than allay any remaining itch I may have to write. As for saying anything of my own, there is nothing in the box: not an idea or wish or dissatisfaction or resentment. You have in me a contented being, and no literature rises out of contentment.

Half the books I pick up, now a days, seem to have no due raison-d'être: one does not feel that the author would have burst if he had not got it out. And that discourages me, for I would like my work, if any, to feel like that.

So I think I'm better off just as an airman, and am lucky to find interests enough in the service to occupy all my time and remaining energy. 1935 is the end of my term, and after it I shall feel very lost.

I hope you are better than you were when I saw you in London a year or two ago: and I hope you are finding some sort of a game, in politics or business, to play with interest. Most people I meet aren't happy; for lack of absorption, I think.

Yours sincerely

T E Shaw.

Source: DG 736
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 8 January 2006


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