The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T E Lawrence (first published as a subscribers’ edition in 1926, printed by Roy Manning Pike and Herbert John Hodgson)

Introduced by Anne Brichto of Addyman Books, Hay-on-Wye

We leave this bright and frosty morning in Wales to travel back in time to the Middle East during the period of WWI. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom has one of the most poetic starts for a book which is essentially about the military and diplomatic shenanigans of that time and place.

Some of the evil of my tale may have been inherent in our circumstances. For years we lived anyhow with one another in the naked desert, under the indifferent heaven. By day the hot sun fermented us; and we were dizzied by the beating wind. At night we were stained by dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silence of stars. We were a self-centred army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man’s creeds, a purpose so ravenous that is devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in its glare. As time went by our need to fight for the ideal increased to an unquestioning possession, riding with spur and rein over our doubts. Willy-nilly it became a faith.

This book is still read by those who go to fight in the Middle-East. Lawrence’s knowledge as a linguist and an archaeologist of the area gave him insights into the complications of religion and ethnicity of the Middle East that almost no other Englishman had. It is an epic read and I’ve only done some chunks of it. The language though is beautiful, the settings real and all the characters come alive as you journey with Lawrence.

He famously lost the manuscript on a train in 1919 and had to write the whole thing again from memory. It was published as a limited private edition in 1926 and a trade edition in 1935.

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I am eating boiled eggs in my camel eggcup with toast soldiers and hot strong coffee as they drink it in the desert.

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3 thoughts on “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

  1. I never knew that he lost the manuscript on a train! That must have been so frustrating! However, it shows a true dedication to the book to sit and right it all out again!
    On a unrelated note: I love that egg cup in the photograph! Is it a camel?

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  2. I feel like up ‘till now, world war one hasn’t necessarily been covered a lot. When we think of world wars, we automatically think of world war two, and then the First World War. In a way, I think the First World War had such a significant effect on the way we live now. Class barriers started to weaken, as for gender barriers. It’s a very interesting period. I studied the literature of world war one for my ALevel English literature degree, and I learned so much that I never knew about not only the war, but society in general. a

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    1. Heard this one earlier “So they have started to bring up the Chilean mi#r8s&ne230; Juan by Juan” lolLOve the pic og the boy dressed as Harry Potter with the 3-headed dog. EPIC.

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