Private Shaw and Public Shaw: A dual portrait of Lawrence of Arabia and George Bernard Shaw by Stanley Weintraus. The newest book to join my collection!
Sir Ian McKellen as T.E. Lawrence in the play Ross, 1970.
A copy of the limited edition Odyssey, issued in November 1932. It was translated by T.E. Lawrence and illustrated by famous American typographer and book designer Bruce Rogers. Only 530 copies were printed.
Poor Boanerges has rusted all over, and I only rub more grease over him, instead of going out for a long fast run. How can I, with the long-suffering Odysseus sitting on my neck all the while? It will be all better, when this cold passes, and things get happy again.
T.E. Lawrence to Charlotte Shaw, February 1930
Boanerges (“sons of thunder” in Aramaic) was his nickname for his motorcycle. At the time he was fighting through translating Homer’s The Odyssey.
This morning’s bookstore find, as it turns out, is from the second impression of this publisher, the same year they first published it. And in near-perfect condition, except for the outer dust jacket. Woot!
Also, I think this note may well be the single most egotistical thing Lawrence ever wrote…. And yet it may shed light on his insistence that he is a poor artist. It’s well noted that he was obsessive about detail, and yet here he says:
"Crafty, exquisite, homogeneous - whatever great art may be, these are not its attributes."
T.E. Lawrence translated The Odyssey, which was published in 1932 under his pseudonym T.E. Shaw.
I have been Homering all morning and afternoon, and must not delay for long: only there is so much I should say to you: first of all thanks for reading that XIth Book. I am afraid it is very difficult. I have been over it three or four times since it came back, and have managed about 100 minor alterations. That is for the good. I changed, so far as I could, all the places you had marked. It is very difficult.
What you say about it is about what I feel: a sense of effort, of hard work: of course there must be this. I never wrote (for printing) an easy line in my life. All my stuff is tenth-thoughts or twentieth-thoughts, before it gets out. Nice phrases in letters to you? Perhaps: only the difference between nice phrases in a letter (where one nice phrase will carry the thing) and an Odyssey where one phrase not-nice will spoil it all, is too great to carry a comparison.
-T.E. to Charlotte Shaw, January 1930
One grinds again and again over each passage till the corrections begin to restore former readings. Then it is finished.
-T.E. to Charlotte Shaw, December 1930
How like a book all the above sentences! Perhaps I am not writing to you, but for my some-day ‘Life and Letters’. If you think so, then burn the thing, and prevent (as Homer would say) the day of its returning.
T.E. Lawrence to Charlotte Shaw, January 1930
Disguise is not advisable. Except in special areas, let it be clearly known that you are British officer and a Christian. At the same time, if you can wear Arab kit when with the tribes, you will acquire their trust and intimacy to a degree impossible in uniform. It is, however, dangerous and difficult. They make no special allowances for your when you dress like them. Breaches of etiquette not charged against a foreigner are not condoned to you in Arab clothes. You will be like an actor in a foreign theatre, playing a part day and night for months, without rest, and for an anxious stake. Complete success, which is when the Arabs forget your strangeness and speak naturally before you, counting you as one of themselves, is perhaps only attainable in character: while half-success (all that most of us will strive for; the other costs too much) is easier to win in British things, and you yourself will last longer, physically and mentally, in the comfort that they mean. Also then the Turks will not hang you when you are caught.
-T.E. Lawrence in his “Twenty-seven Articles,” 1917
A digitized version of T.E. Lawrence’s pocket diary from WWI (January 1st to October 8th, 1918). Lawrence simply recorded where he was on each date.
Courtesy of the British Library: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_45983_b_fs001r
Free-will I’ve tried, and rejected: authority I’ve rejected (not obedience, for that is my present effort, to find equality only in subordination. It is dominion whose taste I have been cloyed with): action I’ve rejected: and the intellectual life: and the receptive senses: and the battle of wits. They were all failures, and my reason tells me therefore that obedience, nescience, will also fail, since the roots of common failure must lie in myself — and yet in spite of reason I am trying it.
T.E. Lawrence to Lionel Curtis, May 1923
A really lovely T.E. Lawrence wallpaper by deviantART user TheRavenArt. The quote comes from a poem by Ernest Dowson (“Impenitentia Ultima”) but was also mentioned in Seven Pillars of Wisdom as a passage that was running through his head when he fell from his camel.
Here’s the poem:
BEFORE my light goes out forever if God should give me a choice of graces, I would not reck of length of days, nor crave for things to be; But cry: “One day of the great lost days, one face of all the faces,Grant me to see and touch once more and nothing more to see.
"For, Lord, I was free of all Thy flowers, but I chose the world’s sad roses,
And that is why my feet are torn and mine eyes are blind with sweat,
But at Thy terrible judgement-seat, when this my tired life closes,
I am ready to reap whereof I sowed, and pay my righteous debt.
"But once the sand is run and the silver thread is broken,
Give me a grace and cast aside the veil of dolorous years,
Grant me one hour of all mine hours, and let me see for a token
Her pure and pitiful eyes shine out, and bathe her feet with tears.”
Her pitiful hands should calm, and her hair stream down and blind me,
Out of the sight of night, and out of the reach of fear,
And her eyes should be my light whilst the sun went out behind me,
And the viols in her voice be the last sound in mine ear.
Before the ruining waters fall and my life be carried under,
And Thine anger cleave me through as a child cuts down a flower,
I will praise Thee, Lord, in Hell while my limbs are racked asunder,
For the last sad sight of her face and the little grace of an hour.
The remnants of an RAF 200 Class Seaplane Tender, a boat that T.E. Lawrence helped develop and test in the early 1930’s. He also wrote a detailed operational manual for this model of boat which was republished in Boats of the R.A.F. printed in limited edition by Castle Hill Press.
See more photos of the boat at the source: http://www.merseyshipping.co.uk/photofeatures/historicships/200seaplanetender/200seaplanetender.htm
14 Barton Street in London, where T.E. Lawrence lived and worked on Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The garret room belonged to his architect friend Herbert Baker.
"I’m perfectly well, & very comfortable in Barton Street which is quite beautiful. The quiet of so little a place in the middle of a great mess has to be experienced a thousand times before it is properly felt. I will be very sorry to leave, when I have to leave, but it’s altogether too pleasant to be allowed to go on too long."
- T.E. Lawrence to his mother, February 1922