THE WATERS OF BABYLON by David Stevens

THE WATERS OF BABYLON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Waters Of Babylon <\b>($24.00; Apr.; 320 pp.; 0-684-86210-7): This diligent and generally quite compelling first novel, written by a successful scriptwriter for feature films (Breaker Morant, etc.) and television, fictionalizes the military and psychosexual adventures of—as its subtitle declares—“Lawrence After Arabia.'' Stevens stresses the various identities the elusive ``Ned'' (1888–1935) compulsively adopted (as ``Shaw,'' ``Ross,'' and in various Arabic guises), while doggedly tracing the sources of this scholarly adventurer's rootlessness, pansexual mood swings, and masochism to a hysterically repressive (and repressed) mother and years of soldiering and espionage during which his true sexual nature emerged and became the center of his being. The novel overstates, and feels reductive at times, but Stevens respects the enigmatic personality that has fascinated later generations (in such incarnations as David Lean's celebrated film Lawrence of Arabia). And he offers illuminating contrasting perspectives on Lawrence in portrayals of a (fictional) military comrade both attracted and repelled by Ned's stoical effeteness, and (the historical) Charlotte Shaw, wife of philandering playwright GBS, who quietly loves Lawrence from afar and sets about to sanitize and preserve his reputation following his death. On balance, an intriguing exploration of the later years of `` . . . a man who found his exact place in time . . . . And in so doing, lost himself.''

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-684-86210-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2000