LAWRENCE, THOMAS EDWARD. 1888-1935.
"THE BOOK WAS THE RECORD OF ME IN THE ARAB MOVEMENT: & BEFORE THE END I WAS VERY WEARY, & MOVED IN A HAZE, HARDLY KNOWING WHAT I DID...."
Autograph Letter Signed ("T.E.S."), 4 pp recto and verso, 8vo, Clouds Hill, Moreton, Dorset, October 15, 1924 to his old companion-in-arms Major W.F. Stirling, regarding the background and authenticity of Seven Pillars, his recollections of the Revolt and the entry into Damascus, and his need to escape his own legend, folds, near-imperceptible strip of archival tape at centerfold.
Lawrence thanks Stirling, who served with him in the desert, for reviewing and fact-checking a proof of Seven Pillars of Wisdom: "My memory of the entry into Damascus was of a quietness & emptiness of street, & of myself crying like a baby with eventual thankfulness, in the Blue mist by your side. It seemed to me that the frenzy of welcome came later, when we drove up & down on inspection. Am I right or wrong? I'll alter this, on receipt of your reply, for you had more leisure to remember than I had."
Stirling had commented on "a lack of climax" in the book; Lawrence responds: "Yes, I'm afraid that is partly intentional. The book was the record of me in the Arab Movement: & before the end I was very weary, & moved in a haze, hardly knowing what I did. Up to Deraa, perhaps, I fought: after that clearly the crisis was solved in our favour, & the last advance & entry into Damascus were almost formalities..... things which had to be passed through, but which required no grip or preparation. Didn't you notice that I was three-parts vacant then?...
So far as it could be, it [Seven Pillars] reproduced the sight of my eyes, & the evidence of my senses & feelings. If people read it as a history:then they mistake it. I'll strengthen my warming against such a line: but to reboil the final crisis to get it hotter & fitter to the dramatic demands of the Revolt:no, that I can't do, since day by day, as the years pass, I hate & despise myself more & more for the part I played in it. Today my wish is to strip off from the yarn all the little decorations & tricks & ornaments with which I have made it ever-so-little exciting: so that the core of it should stand out as a disenchanting, rather squalid, experience."
Before discussing H.G. Wells' reaction to the book, Lawrence writes, "My life has been service, & I hate it ... service as an ideal of scholarship, to the nation-building demand of nationality, and now service in the ranks. As you say in such surrender there lies a happiness ... but this seems to me an immoral feeling, like an overdraft on our account of life. We shouldn't be happy: and I think I've dodged that sin successfully! The Tank corps is a hefty penance for too rich & full a youth!"