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Seven Pillars of Wisdom

by T. E. Lawrence

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,389512,216 (4.03)1 / 189
T.E. Lawrence describes his rise to leadership position and famed title Lawrence of Arabia. In vivid and lyrical detail, Lawrence describes how he unified numerous Arab factions during World War I against the occupying and oppressive Ottoman Turks.
  1. 50
    Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence by Jeremy Wilson (KayCliff)
  2. 20
    Setting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918 by James Barr (arethusarose)
    arethusarose: covers the politics and policies that led to Lawrence's activity, and work done by others in more detail than I have seen in other books. The author appears to have examined the territory covered in 1916-1918 as it is today
  3. 20
    T. E. Lawrence: The Selected Letters by T. E. Lawrence (BINDINGSTHATLAST)
    BINDINGSTHATLAST: Affordable and robust book of letters.
  4. 10
    Lawrence: The Uncrowned King of Arabia by Michael Asher (amerynth)
  5. 10
    Crusader Castles by T. E. Lawrence (BINDINGSTHATLAST)
    BINDINGSTHATLAST: includes a small selection of letters
  6. 00
    More Great Railway Journeys by Benedict Allen (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Chapt 1 for more on Hejaz - Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph, T E Lawrence
  7. 00
    Eden to Armageddon: World War I in the Middle East by Roger Ford (Artymedon)
  8. 01
    1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West by Roger Crowley (John_Vaughan)
  9. 12
    T. E. Lawrence: An Arab View by Suleiman Mousa (Sylak)

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» See also 189 mentions

English (46)  Dutch (4)  French (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
I was aware before starting that this was a somewhat unreliable account of the exploits of Lawrence on the Eastern Front during WWI but the Introduction introduced such a level of scepticism that it tainted my reading; I was forever wondering what was true, what was exaggerated, what entirely fabricated. The veracity of the account was challenged in a publication of 1955 that I don't have. I'd have much prefered to read a critical edition that put the book in the context of the known history so that truth and fiction could be easily separated - I don't know if such a thing exists, though.

Lawrence is at his best when describing landscape and action, at his worst when being judgemental, whether it be about history, peoples or individuals. The first half fled fairly fast but the second was a struggle for most of its length. It turns out that camel rides and raids on railways and bridges can become repetative and dull. Interest was re-ignited when the Allies turn up in force and events become novel again.

I know very little about WWI; my main impressions of it come from two books; All Quiet on the Western Front and this. The contrast between the Western and Eastern conflicts could hardly be greater, on this basis. The mud, trenches, gas attacks, whole-sale slaughter and stalemate of France and Belgium feel like a different world from the rock, sand, guerilla warfare and endless gadding about by horse, camel, plane and (Rolls Royce) car that Lawrence describes in the Middle East. Lawrence's account is rarely in the slightest bit romanticised, though, and hunger, thirst, battle and death are treated in a most matter-of-fact manner that contrasts both with the myth of Lawrence of Arabia on the one hand and the deliberately political and horrifying verse of Sassoon and his fellow War Poets. ( )
2 vote Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Classic text on war with the Arabs, originally distributed privately, then publicly available in 1935 ( )
  nadineeg | Nov 30, 2018 |
I first struggled through this book with great determination at the age of 12, smitten with the legend after having seen the David Lean movie. As Lawrence said himself, "purple prose." Absolutely beautiful. The obsession continued through to adulthood, and I came to embrace and love the real person through The Mint, Oriental Assembly, and some of the many biographies written about him, and mostly by reading his letters. I learned more about the history of the Middle East, became interested in E.M. Forster's writing, Kennington's wonderful portraits, Ur, and explored many other subjects, connections and viewpoints thanks to Lawrence. I read and eventually acquired my copies of Seven Pillars, Oriental Assembly, and T.E. Lawrence by His Friends through a relative I remember only dimly and was not old enough to seriously converse with while she lived. ( )
3 vote laursand | Dec 10, 2017 |
il titolo è, oggi, un po' infelice perchè richiama il genere fantasy o giù di lì. Ma se avete provato un brivido mentre Peter O'Toole, nella sua veste bianca, con la mano tesa grida "Aqaba!" e si lancia al galoppo verso il deserto, non potete rinunciare a questo libro. "El Orens" è ancora con noi. ( )
  icaro. | Aug 31, 2017 |
Difficult book to read through entirely; largely covers the history of the Arab participation and the outcomes of World War 1. My 1935 copy, a gift in 1936 to my father, was an abridged history (Lawrence lost the original manuscript and had destroyed his original notes by then). The insights from a different era are interesting, especially in light of the later formation of Israel and the modernization of the original Palestine. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Jul 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
That is what the book is about, and it could only be reviewed authoritatively by a staff officer who knows the East. That is what the book is about, and Moby Dick was about catching a whale. For round this tent-pole of a military chronicle T.E. has hung an unexampled fabric of portraits, descriptions, philosophies, emotions, adventures, dreams.... He has also contributed to sociology, in recording what is probably the last of the picturesque wars. Camels, pennants, the blowing up of little railway trains...
added by KayCliff | editAbinger Harvest, E Forster (Oct 18, 2014)
The author himself had described Seven Pillars in these terms, in a letter to Charlotte Shaw in 1923:
... it's more a storehouse than a book - has no unity, is too discursive, dispersed, heterogeneous. I've shot into it, as a builder into his yard, all the odds and ends of ideas which came to me during those years ... (Lawrence, 2000: 33)
And he proved himself no indexer's friend in the matter of consistency. He wrote:
Arabic names won't go into English, exactly ... There are some 'scientific systems' of transliteration... I spell my names anyhow, to show what rot the systems are. (Lawrence, 1935: 19)
added by KayCliff | editThe Indexer, Hazel K. Bell (Aug 3, 2009)

» Add other authors (150 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lawrence, T. E.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Asher, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berner, BradEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, MalcolmEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gatrell, AnthonyMapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kennington, EricIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, A. W.Prefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thesiger, WilfredForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To S.A.

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands and wrote my will across the sky in stars
To earn you Freedom, the seven pillared worthy house, that your eyes might be shining for me
        When we came.
Death seemed my servant on the road, till we were near and saw you waiting:
When you smiled, and in sorrowful envy he outran me and took you apart:
        Into his quietness.
Love, the way-weary, groped to your body, our brief wage ours for the moment
Before earth's soft hand explored your shape, and the blind worms grew fat upon
        Your substance.
Man prayed me that I set our work, the inviolate house, as a memory of you.
But for fit monument I shattered it, unfinished: and now
The little things creep out to patch themselves hovels in the marred shadow
        Of your gift.
First words
Mr Geoffrey Dawson persuaded All Souls College to give me leisure, in 1919-20, to write about the Arab Revolt.

Author's note, Cranwell, 15 August 1926.
The seven pillars of wisdom are first mentioned in the Bible, in the Book of Proverbs (ix. I)

Preface by A. W. Lawrence.
The story which follows was first written out in Paris during the Peace Conference, from notes jotted daily on the march, strengthened by some reports sent to my chiefs in Cairo. Afterwards, in the autumn of 1919, this first draft and some of the notes were lost. It seemed to me historically needful to reproduce the tale, as perhaps no one but myself in Feisal’s army had thought of writing down at the time what we felt, what we hoped, what we tried. So it was built again with heavy repugnance in London in the winter of 1919–20 from memory and my surviving notes. The record of events was not dulled in me and perhaps few actual mistakes crept in—except in details of dates or numbers—but the outlines and significance of things had lost edge in the haze of new interests.

Introductory Chapter.
Some Englishmen, of whom Kitchener was chief, believed that a rebellion of Arabs against Turks would enable England, while fighting Germany, simultaneously to defeat her ally Turkey.

Introduction : Foundations of revolt.
Some of the evil of my tale may have been inherent in our circumstances

Chapter I.
Tallal had seen what we had seen. He gave one moan like a hurt animal; then rode to the upper ground and sat there a while on his mare, shivering and looking fixedly after the Turks. I moved near to speak to him, but Auda caught my rein and stayed me. Very slowly Tallal drew his head-cloth about his face; and then he seemed suddenly to take hold of himself, for he dashed his stirrups into the mare's flanks and galloped headlong, bending low and swaying in the saddle, right at the main body of the enemy.
Later I was sitting alone in my room, working and thinking out as firm a way as the turbulent memories of the day allowed, when the Muedhdhins began to send their call of last prayer through the moist night over the illuminations of the feasting city. One, with a ringing voice of special sweetness, cried into my window from a near mosque. I found myself involuntarily distinguishing his words: 'God alone is great: I testify there are no gods, but God: and Mohammed his Prophet. Come to prayer: come to security. God alone is great: there is no god--but God.'

At the close he dropped his voice two tones, almost to speaking level, and softly added: 'And He is very good to us this day, O people of Damascus.' The clamour hushed, as everyone seemed to obey the call to prayer on this their first night of perfect freedom. While my fancy, in the overwhelming pause, showed me my loneliness and lack of reason in their movement: since only for me, of all the hearers, was the event sorrowful and the phrase meaningless.

‘O Nesib,’ said I, ‘and O Zeki, will not perfection, even in the least of things, entail the ending of this world? Are we ripe for that? When I am angry I pray God to swing our globe into the fiery sun, and prevent the sorrows of the not-yet-born: but when I am content, I want to lie for ever in the shade, till I become a shade myself.’
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T.E. Lawrence describes his rise to leadership position and famed title Lawrence of Arabia. In vivid and lyrical detail, Lawrence describes how he unified numerous Arab factions during World War I against the occupying and oppressive Ottoman Turks.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Copy 1169 of a 1,225 limited edition of the 1922 text of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E. Lawrence. The text was edited from the manuscript in the Bodleian Library and T.E. Lawrence's annotated copy of the 1922 Oxford Times printing. The full text was first published in 1997 by Castle Hill Press in an edition of 752 three-volume sets. Copies 1-45 of this printing are bound in full goatskin, copies 46-225 are bound in quarter-goatskin. Copies 226-1225 are bound in cloth.

The 1922 text is a full 25% longer than the version known to readers since Lawrence's death in 1935.
Haiku summary
Camel riding in the desert
can be fun whilst shooting
Turks left in the dirt
white skin and all looting
while blowing up little railway trains

Legacy Library: T. E. Lawrence

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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