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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Jonathan Cape


Plymouth

28.iii.33

Dear Cape, The books arrived and are being devoured by everybody in armfuls. Very many thanks. It was a good idea, well carried out. 

I suggest you try Garnett with the 'Syrian notes': if he found pleasure in them, an appendix would be easy. I am quite willing to set them out in form.  

I don't like Arabic transcriptions: and the first thing about a title is to have it easily memorised by the public, for shop or library practice. So I would criticize his title and pen-name. 

The note:- it isn't often that a rolling stone sets down, quite so plainly, the ways in which it has avoided moss. To my mind, the usefulness of the story is that it exemplifies the plain Scot abroad, and explains something of our ill-repute and formidability amongst stranger peoples. The unscrupulousness, force, ability of his career: this heedless stravaging about the Middle East: the entire lack of sensibility: the unmitigated plainness of his mind and life! There is something peculiarly unlovely about his relations with his fellows: but he has a liking for his horses and his dogs. 

That's what I think about the book: and I note that it comes to about a hundred words: but the publisher should remark that the Clyde apprentice makes many errors of fact in his text . . . and that the editor has left them standing, so as not to give him a false air of authority. This is the Briton unadorned!

T.E.S.

Yes, I've had a. bad winter: but survive to enjoy the summer-taste of today. I leave the R.A.F. in a few days - without plans, except for rest.

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Source: DG 766-7
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 19 July 2008

 



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