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The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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The fate of this community... [30 Sep 2003|10:09pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | tired ]

I don't think that this community is really working out because I think others are either not reading the text or unwilling to post reactions to the text.

So I am not going to be posting here anymore and will be instead posting over at te_lawrence.

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[28 Sep 2003|09:08pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | restless ]

Did anyone else do this week's reading? If so, please go ahead and post something about it!

If no one chimes in then I suppose I will go ahead and post.

Reading for this week, finish out Book 1 (so chapters 13 to 16).

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[21 Sep 2003|08:58pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | weird ]

Nothing terribly exciting in this week's reading for me. TEL meets Abdulla and decides that he lacks the spark or special quality of leadership that TEL is looking for. We also learn about Jidda, a rather stagnant town. We are provided with a couple more map. For those who may be reading via the text on the internet, Jidda is located on the east coast of the Red Sea and is about 50 miles west of Mecca.

I suppose what seemed most interesting to me in the reading was the brass band that played in Mecca that they listened to in Jidda over the telephone, and then Sherif Hussein sent the band by forced march to Jidda so Abdulla, Wilson, Storrs, et al could listen to them and phone Sherif Hussein to listen.

Anyway, TEL is off to Rabegh (a little less than 100 miles north of Jidda) and we will read chapters 10, 11, and 12 this week. Anyone is welcome to chime in with their thoughts on the reading.

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[15 Sep 2003|08:47pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | tired ]

So more background info setting up the context for the revolt as we finish the introductory portion. We get the history of Turkish domination and Arab resistance. TEL says that "So, early in the Middle Ages, the Turks found a footing in the Arab States, first as servants, then as helpers, and then as a parasite growth which choked the life of the old body politic." It seems that with the context we are presented, the tides are starting to shift with the increasing discontent of the subjugated peoples and the weakening of the Turkish hold. I think that this type of cycle has been typical of Near Eastern history up to that time.

TEL presents us with some of the important Arab players, namely Hussein ibn Ali and his sons. Feisal (also spelled Feysul) seems the most interesting of the sons thus far. The anecdote of his reaction to whether Enver and Jamal should be killed when they are is guests provides some interesting insight into his character. Also, we get a painted picture of him.

TEL quickly brings us up to speed about his role and introduces us to some of the players of the British military. His stratagem for getting where he wanted to me had me smiling especially, "I took every opportunity to rub into them their comparative ignorance and inefficiency in the department of intelligence (not difficult!) and irritated them yet further by literary airs, correcting Shavian split infinitives and tautologies in their reports."


So now we are ready for book one, so here's what's next for this week: Chapters 8 and 9.

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[13 Sep 2003|01:56am]

tabletopphantom
Wow! It's been so long since I searched for T.E. Lawrence communities, I never even realized that this one popped up right under my nose. Since you are all so interested in T.E.'s book, you might be interested in learning a bit more about the man himself. I run a community called te_lawrence, so feel free to pop on over and make many comments.

I love Seven Pillars of Wisdom dearly, it's a beautiful novel. Although more than anything I wish I could see one of the subscriber's editions. It must be wonderful, and to OWN one. Augh.

After Lawrence wrote the book, he had many battles with himself on whether or not he should have it published. He didn't think it was good enough, or true enough. He also still plagued by guilt (as he would be for the rest of his life) on having failed to bring the Arabs what he promised: independence and a land of their own.

The artist Eric Kennington, who painted a great deal of the illustrations (including the whimsical cartoons) within Seven Pillars, was one of many friends which urged Lawrence to have the book published.

". . . he began again, gently to prove to me how degraded the book was, and foreseeing defeat in battle with that brain, I said the book had to be published. He said more gently, 'Give me one good reason--one only.' It seemed, the crisis, and I found one reason, and said it was a book on motive, and necessary at this moment of life; the world had lied till it was blind, and had to be re-educated to see its motives. It sounded futile, but he stopped quiet, and after a pause, said undramatically, 'Not bad'--(giggle)--'Quite good'--(many giggles)--'You win.' "

Isn't that just perfect? It says so much about Lawrence.

Has anyone here read his second book (not counting Revolt in the Desert) called The Mint? It's been long out of print, but you can still rummage up a copy on E-bay for a reasonable price. It's very interesting, and is essentially Lawrence's impression of life in the Royal Air Force. As you may already know, in August 1922 Lawrence joined the RAF as an airmen. At night in the barracks he would make notes on his day, and on the other members of his squadron. These notes would eventually be compiled to form The Mint although it was not published until 1955, 20 years after his death. One of my favorite quotes from the book is the following: "When a plane shoots downward out of control, its crew cramp themselves fearfully into their seats for minutes like years, expecting the crash: but the smoothness of that long dive continues to their graves. Only for survivors is there and after-pain." I'm positive this quote was derived from Lawrence's personal experience, because after the Paris Peace Conference he was involved in a plane crash in Rome. Lawrence only sustained a broken collar bone and rib, but both of the pilots were killed.

But this isn't a community about The Mint is it? It's about Seven Pillars.

As for my personal history with Lawrence, I'm a fan of the worst sort. Last fall during a school holiday I went to England on a sort of Lawrence pilgrimage. I saw the Ashmolean Museum, the house he lived in as a child and a young man at 2 Polestead Rd., and his alma mater Jesus College. I then traveled the Dorset to see Clouds Hill and his grave site. Over the summer I biked half the route Lawrence biked across France in 1908 on a tour of crusader castles. I plan on returning next summer to bike the second half. I am also a cardholding member of the T.E. Lawrence Society of England. Some people camp out in stadium parking lots painted from head to foot in their team's colors waiting for the first game of the season--I happen to be infatuated with a long-dead historical figure.

Yay! Sorry about all the babble. Any questions or comments, or possible discussion topics can be directed to my AIM screen name TabletopPhantom or my E-mail address tphantom@uga.edu .
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this week [08 Sep 2003|06:40pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | tired ]

So, yeah, I didn't do the reading last week so same reading for this week as for last... if anyone else is reading that is

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Regarding αχρωματοσ, ασχηματιςτοσ, αναφησ and Next Week [31 Aug 2003|05:55pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | awake ]

The fine folks at linguaphiles have provided the translation for αχρωματοσ, ασχηματιςτοσ, αναφησ. It is ancient Greek meaning colorless, formles, intangible.

And next week's reading...

Finish out the Introduction (so I think that's chapters 4 through 7).

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ramblings about chapters I to III [31 Aug 2003|11:51am]

fictionbya
[ mood | tired ]

So, chapter I gives us a glimpse of what life was like in the desert and some of TEL's obervations of the Arabs and of himself with them.

He uses some lovely descriptions, this is one that I especially enjoyed, "By day the hot sun fermented us; and we were dizzied by the beating wind. At night, we were strained by dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silences of stars."

It's an interesting twist, at the beginning of the chapter, that their utter devotion to the cause and idea of freedom enslaved them.

Regarding sexuality, it was interesting that homosexual acts "seemed sexless and even pure" in comparison to the alternative, female prostitutes with "raddled meat". The concept that it was "a sensual coefficient of the mental passion" was also quite interesting.

TEL seems caught between worlds among the Arabs. Understanding and seeing from their perspective changes him. As he said, Western conventions were destroyed for him seeing them from an outside perspective. And yet he is Western and cannot wholly accept Arab conventions either.

There's not a lot to say about chapter two except I hope you had a map! My book has one and I had to write on it to follow what TEL was talking about in this crash course on Middle East geography.

Chapter three is all about ideology and the starkness of belief and the extremes TEL observes about the mindset of Semetic peoples. There was one thing in the chapter that I wish there were a note on and that is the Greek in the sentence "God was to him not anthropomorphic, not tangible, not moral nor ethical, not concerned with the world or with him, not natural: but the being αχρωματοσ, ασχηματιςτοσ, αναφησ..." Does anyone know what that means?

I thought that chapter three was the most interesting of the three for this week, but I don't want to monopolize discussion about this weeks' reading. I am really curious what other people thought of this chapter so share!

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online version of the text [25 Aug 2003|09:15am]

fictionbya
[ mood | happy ]

FYI...

The text is available on the web at http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks01/0100111.txt

Thanks to kayjayuu for finding this!

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This week... Foundations of Revolt [24 Aug 2003|03:02pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | calm ]

This week we start getting into the text of the story with a history lesson. The introduction should provide us with the background and context necessary to understand the rest of the story. Let's read chapters 1-3 of the Introduction.

Not much reading, but I'm going to have a busy week and am not sure I can get to the whole Intro.

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Comments on this week's reading [23 Aug 2003|11:19pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | pensive ]

Beginning to Post-script by AW Lawrence

=-=-=

There wasn’t much to read this week, but it was pretty interesting. There were a number of things about TEL that came across strongly for me: self-abasement, self-effacement, and humor.

Some lines that stuck out for me:

“I am aware that my achievement as a writer falls short of every conception of the readable...”

“In these pages the history is not of the Arab movement, but of me in it. It is the narrative of daily life, mean happenings, little people. Here are no lessons for the world, no disclosures to shock peoples. It is filled with trivial things, partly that no one mistake for history the bones from which some day a man may make history...”

“... they [the Arabs] grew accustomed to believing me and to think my Government, like myself, sincere. In this hope they performed some fine things, but, of course, instead of being proud of what we did together, I was continually and bitterly ashamed.”

The history of the text itself is quite interesting. He lost his first manuscript, burned the second one save for a single page, and alluded that the text of the third one wasn’t long for the world (“Five copies... have not yet been destroyed.”). The first published text was for a group of subscribers. Though TEL does not tell us how many, I think it was a relatively small number of copies. I have read elsewhere that the printing of the book ran TEL into such debt that he had to publish the abridged version, Revolt in the Desert, to recoup the money (and Revolt sold very well). I was surprised at the difference in lengths between Revolt and Seven Pillars!

I also found it interesting that TEL had Seven Pillars published in the United States for purpose of ensuring copyright. Then only ten copies were offered for sale in the US at a cost so high that they would never sell! And then TEL tells us “No further issue of the Seven Pillars will be made in my lifetime.” It’s like he didn’t want people to read it. Maybe he didn’t really beyond the initial offering to the subscriber group.

There were some interesting comments regarding the transliterations of Arabic names. I got quite a kick out of TEL’s responses to the publisher who questioned some of his spellings! :-D

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This week... [17 Aug 2003|10:05am]

fictionbya
[ mood | happy ]

This week we will be reading up through the postscript by AW Lawrence. So we aren't reading a whole lot. This portion is an introduction to the book, but not an introduction to the story (which I think we can start on the 24th).

Enjoy. Post anything here that seems particularly interesting.

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Book approach [03 Aug 2003|05:34pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | thirsty ]

I think it would be nice to break the book up into manageable chunks to read on a weekly basis. At the end of each week, we could then post about anything in that section that seemed especially interesting, confusing, boring, exciting, etc.

I am really interested in making sure everyone is able to keep up so if anyone is struggling one week, we can slow it down or extend the time frame for finishing that chunk of the book.

Why don't we target August 17th as the start date for reading? I would suggest that we just read up through the postscript by A.W. Lawrence for that week.

Does anyone have any comments/suggestions/complaints?

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the book [03 Aug 2003|05:26pm]

fictionbya
[ mood | awake ]

Make sure you have Seven Pillars of Wisdom and NOT Revolt in the Desert, which is an abridged version of the book.

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