Talk:T. E. Lawrence/Archive 3

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4


I just dropped a citation-needed on the claim that Lawrence was a polyglot and could speak an astounding list of languages including Syriac, Greek, and Turkish. I don't recall claims of Syriac and Turkish, and "speak" may be misleading on Latin and Geek; many classicists' mastery of such languages is only in its written form.

Any citations out there? Tim Bray (talk) 15:06, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

You probably won't find any. Lawrence may have been a polyglot, but he was also a fantasist. I recall that in The Mint he casually pictures himself reading a book written in Danish. Like a lot of things about him, the truth about this is hard to get at. Rumiton (talk) 13:43, 29 June 2010 (UTC) BTW, as a pedantic aside, all classicists, not just many, understand only the written words. No one knows how they were pronounced. Rumiton (talk) 15:41, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
He denigrated his own understanding of Arabic in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, chapter XL: "The fluency had a lack of grammar, which made my talk a perpetual adventure for my hearers." Polyglottalism isn't all that helpful if no one else understands you. Zoonoses (talk) 14:11, 24 October 2010 (UTC)

Why the aliases?

The article leaves two questions unanswered: First, why did Lawrence, a lieutenant-colonel during the war, want to join the RAF as an aircraftsman (the lowest rank there)? Second, why was it necessary for him to disguise his identity in an effort to join the RAF and Royal Tank Corps? Peter Chastain (talk) 11:00, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

Nobody can answer the first question. Even by the upper class standards of extreme eccentricity he grew up with, Lawrence was a strange and disturbed individual. There is considerable evidence he was a sexual masochist, and wanting to debase himself in rank may have been part of this. His own explanations, wanting to write a book about the new Air Force from the inside (which he actually did), and needing the security of service life, do not convince today. But once that decision was made, anonymity was essential. Lawrence of Arabia was perhaps the best known figure from the recent First World War. His known presence as a private in the most junior of the three services was impossible. Everyone knew he talked with Lord Trenchard and dined with Sir Winston. Nobody under brigade rank could have issued him an order. Rumiton (talk) 11:21, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
The first question might be better phrased as "Why did Lawrence walk away from fame, fortune, and the opportunity to contribute at a high level on issues he cared passionately about?" All of his biographers discuss this issue at some length. Unlike Rumiton, I think Lawrence's angst about profiting from work he felt included a large dose of betrayal was genuine and even admirable. On the other hand, he was indeed spectacularly ambivalent about his what-we-would-now-call-rock-star status. Back to Wikipedia... I think Mr. Chastain raises a valid point; the article should do a better job of making it clear how dramatic his turning-away was; that is easily established by a ton of citations. But it shouldn't try to offer an explanation; because, as Rumiton points out, Lawrence offered none that was convincing, and absent cite-able evidence about the big picture of his psychology, anything that could be said would constitute original research. Tim Bray (talk) 07:53, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

Will someone please start a page on RVC Bodley for me?

I find him fascinating, and as you well know, he was influenced by Lawrence to be an Arabophile. Could someone start the page please and then I will build it? As an IP, I am barred from page creation. I can build the bulk of the page,but if you want proof that Bodley was notable as an author, consider the following:

OK, done. Best to get some good info into it ASAP, before someone deletes it as non-notable. Rumiton (talk) 05:58, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
Too slow, it's gone. I have made an objection. Rumiton (talk) 08:07, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

Darn. Some way we can work around this? How about you set up a page in your sandbox and let me build the page in there?

You need Wikipedia:Articles for creation where IP's can create pages. Enter CBW, waits for audience applause, not a sausage. 19:44, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

I looked into that. It is well known that there is a huge backlog. That is not the answer...

OK. I'll start it in my sandbox now. Rumiton (talk) 11:03, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
It's on my user page. Just start adding stuff and when it looks valid enough I'll restart the article. Rumiton (talk) 11:26, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Are you still interested? I will delete the new page in three days if nothing is added to it. Rumiton (talk) 11:17, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
Deleted. Rumiton (talk) 09:31, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, it got created and is on the main site.

...the absence of evidence for outright invention in Lawrence's works

I am having a real problem with this statement, which reeks of undue weight or even original research. Every Lawrence biographer has come across the difficulty of sorting out which of Lawrence's depictions of events are true and which self-serving fantasy. His story of losing the 7 Pillars MS in a railway station and retyping it in a short period from memory is one example. It created much public interest at the time. More dubious are his claims to fluency in a bewildering variety of languages, from Danish to Greek via Turkish and some Arab dialects. Outright invention was actually one of his fortes, and the episode of his capture by the Turks and resultant sexual humiliation are considered by several biographers as more likely to be fantasies than fact. Rumiton (talk) 14:14, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

OK, if you have decent evidence, this deserves coverage. You'd need a few citation to Lawrence having said X and to independent evidence that X was in fact not so. Lawrence's most serious biographers, who've given it the most study, tend to the opinion that he was mostly solid on the facts of the matter. I've certainly seen these allegations, and in fact at least one of his biographers depicted Lawrence as a serial fantasist; but the allegations are addressed pretty convincingly by other writers. Tim Bray (talk) 08:37, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that evidence can ever be found. Who can say he did not somewhere, somehow achieve fluency in Danish, Greek, Arabic, Turkish etc? Who can now disprove his sado-masochistic sexual anecdotes starring the whipping-minded Bey? We can only report that several of his contemporary biographers found the stories improbable, especially as they piled up on each other. Rumiton (talk) 09:13, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
In particular, there are two sources with some standing who accuse Lawrence of significant perfidy: Aldington and Mousa. I suppose it would be OK to mention Aldington's accusations, but then it should probably be noted that the other leading biographers, in scholarly works with loads of sources, have come to a different conclusion. Mainstream Lawrence scholarship sees Aldington's book as a straightforward attack piece. Mousa is pretty clearly a guy with an agenda and his work is not up to his competitors' scholarly standards. Tim Bray (talk) 01:05, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
The pro-Arab author of this article accuses him of various perfidies, giving sources. Rumiton (talk) 13:21, 12 December 2010 (UTC)


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible."— T.E. Lawrence Seven Pillars of Wisdom —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:52, 4 October 2010 (UTC)