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  You are in: Home > Biography > ‘For Only Those Deserve the Name’  
 

‘For Only Those Deserve the Name’
T.E. Lawrence and Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Mark Calderbank

Mark Calderbank was born in Lancaster and brought up in the north of England. He read modern French and German literature at Cambridge University and Linguistics at Kent. A compulsion to travel led him to the Arab East, where he spent twenty years, learned Arabic, and travelled. This is his first book, building on his articles for the T.E. Lawrence Society Journal. He is married and lives in France.

 

In Seven Pillars of Wisdom, his epic of the Arab Revolt, T.E. Lawrence wanted to write a work of spiritual greatness, comparable to The Brothers Karamazov, and Thus spake Zarathustra. ‘For only those deserve the name’, he wrote to Charlotte Shaw, recalling his ambition to be a great writer. Mark Calderbank’s biography shows how post-World War I political developments in the Middle East, and Lawrence’s unsettled life and sense of guilt, influenced the published work and contributed to his sense of failure. By following multiple lines of enquiry into chosen events, Mark Calderbank shows us a story coloured by a retrospective vision of history, a post-war Weltanschaung, and the compulsion to present an exemplary personality. This approach has the deepest significance for the interpretation of the Seven Pillars’ reliability as a historical source, in particular the interweaving of fantasy and historical truth, and excessive personalisation. The psychology of masochism plays a prominent rôle in interpreting the ‘drama of the Self’, especially the notorious incidents at Dera’ and Tafas. Problems of personality are paramount.

Seven Pillars has been overly influential and has long required a reassessment. The 100th anniversary of the Revolt is opportune. Of especial significance are the revealing of accounts of other participants, and Lawrence’s presentation of the Arabs and of history, both of which remain highly topical. The Epilogue, a commentary on an essay (1940) by André Malraux, appraises the meaning of literature in Lawrence’s life. To date, Seven Pillars has eluded evaluation. “In the end”, wrote Herbert Read, “the reader finds himself alone: he has to decide for himself.” Calderbank’s majestic reassessment is long overdue.


Abbreviated References used in this book
Key chapter numeration in successive editions of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
A note on the texts

Introduction

PART I SEVEN YEARS OF STRUGGLE 1919-1926
Chapter One Genesis in Paris, 1919
Chapter Two Writing the Book. London, Oxford, Pole Hill, 1920
Chapter Three In the Political Arena, 1920–21
Chapter Four From the Oxford Text to Enlistment in the Ranks, 1922
Chapter Five Literary Mentors, 1922–24
Chapter Six Bovington Camp, 1923–25
Chapter Seven The Subscribers’ Edition, 1923–26


PART II SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM
Section 1 The Arab Revolt: Participant Accounts
Chapter Eight Lawrence in The Arab Revolt: A Summary
Chapter Nine Lawrence & Ronald Storrs in Jeddah
Chapter Ten The Battle of Tafileh. Subhi al-Umari & Lawrence
Chapter Eleven Kirkbride's Account

Section 2 The Drama of the Self
Chapter Twelve The Outsider: 1
Chapter Thirteen Climax at Dera’
Chapter Fourteen The Outsider: 2
Chapter Fifteen The Biographical Environment and Sequel

Section 3 Between Myth and Reality
Prologue The Titanic Inspiration
Chapter Sixteen The Arab Mirage
Chapter Seventeen The Presentation of History
Chapter Eighteen The Problem of Autobiography

Epilogue Was that all it was, then?

Appendix 1 Chronology of Text 1: Four versions
Appendix 2 Nesib al-Bakri and the Syrian alternative
Appendix 3 The demonisation of Abdelkader

Bibliography of References
Index

Reviewed in Middle East Policy Journal, Vol XXIV, No.1, Spring 2017, 178–81. www.mepc.org/journal

 

Publication Details

 
Hardback ISBN:
978-1-84519-808-4
 
 
Page Extent / Format:
396 pp. / 234 x 156 mm
 
Release Date:
October 2016
  Illustrated:   Yes
 
Hardback Price:
£40.00 / $64.95
 
 

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