338171, T E (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA) by Victoria Ocempo


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A contemplative aria about Lawrence of Arabia, written by a Latin lady who never knew him, translated by David Garnett who did, and introduced by Lawrence's favorite brother, an Oxford professor who calls the whole thing ""most profound"". Is it? Just about. Senora Ocampo, armed with the Seven Pillars and the Letters, wanders in and out the Lawrentian labyrinth as if he were Theseus and she Ariadne; though rarely allowing either to come up for air, her exploration- highly personal, highly involved, highly intense, and all of it running little over a hundred pages- is probably the best in-depth illumination Lawrence has yet garnered. Lawrence was of the same stuff as the saints says Senora Ocampo; spiritual perfection had to be his and nothing less could catisfy. Thus the self-denial, the self-mystification, the self-destructiveness, and thus, ironically enough, the quest for adventure, the quest for speed. In these pages packed with Lawrence's own pertinent observations and the Senora's no less suggestive syntheses- read her remarks on Lawrence's asceticism, his misogyny, his homoeroticism- Lawrence emerges as a sort of existential hero, the embodiment of the modern day split between intelligence and instinct, the enigmatic ego in the conflict of self-love/self-hate, without God and yet playing God. A stunning rebuttal to Aldington's debunking iography, even though written well before it. The mystical title refers, incidentally to Lawrence's RAF serial number.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1963
Publisher: Dutton