The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Some years ago Dee bought me for my birthday the 1935 innustrated edition of T.E.Lawrence's (Lawrence of Arabia's) Seven Pillars of Wisdom. This is a massive tome with old style torn edged pages and a hard cover somewhat enigmatically imprinted "The sword also means clean-ness and death".

This is a very valuable volume and even though I have long become interested in things Arabia I hesitated before starting it. I read mainly in bed - which is great for a paperback but not for this - and I am a very slow reader. I like to dissect the language, often going over a passage two or three times to get its meaning clear in mind and/or to understand the writer's use of words - his/her tecnique. So for twenty years or so The Seven Pillars has reposed, unread, in our bookcase.

Six weeks ago I ran out of reading material and Dee plonked this great big thing down in front of me on the bed covers. Since then I have become completely absorbed in it. T.E.Lawrence has to be one of the most individualistic men of any race, especially the English. I'm not about to go into what I know about his life and his death. Many a learned professor has done that and still there are more questions than answers. But about his book ... absolutely brilliant and more later about that when I finish it.

I have read that a writer should not read the works of others whilst he, himself, is writing. It is said that the style of the work being read will pollute or warp his own individual style. It is not said that reading a truly great work will tend to make the reader give up on his own more ordinary writing efforts but I have no doubts that this also is true.

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