Thursday, 5 May 2016

Still waiting

It was March 26th when I placed an order for Marie-Louise von Franz, The Problem of the Puer Aeternus
It never showed up. The replacement copy order was confirmed on April 23 with the statement that it would take 5-8 business days to reach me after a few days to prepare the order. The 5-8 business days have passed and now I am wondering about the definition of "a few days". Surely this means less than a week? But I am also wondering if it, too, will ever reach me.

It is the last book I need for my research on a series about T. E. Shaw (formerly T. E. Lawrence, or "Lawrence of Arabia") from his service in the Royal Air Force in India to his death. I cannot think of any 20th century person more expensive to research than T. E. It requires the purchase of at least two first edition books that are not available for interlibrary loans and are generally not found in either public or university libraries. Even the book I ordered, which is only tangentially related exists in only two libraries in Canada. For another $650 I could order another set of books that might enhance my results even more, but you have to draw the line somewhere, and $650 is a lot to spend on a "maybe".

The delay, if there is anything positive to say about it, at least gives me time to reflect more on T.E.'s personality as that is the niche I am carving for myself in the more than 100 biographical studies that have been published. Being, also, an introverted intuitive is a distinct advantage, but T. E. was an unusual person regardless of his basic personality type. Reading what others have said about him requires some study of their personality, too, and T. E. also responded differently to different sorts of people and this can also depend on how he was approached by them.

Drawing of T. E. Lawrence,
William Rothenstein, 1920
So I continue to ponder and to wait. I just hope that I am not waiting for Godot.

"My wife, returning from a party in the autumn of 1920, spoke of having met Lawrence. A day or two later he came to the house, a small shy youth, fair and blue-eyed — I was surprised, as were most people at his unheroic appearance. He returned from time to time, sat to me for a drawing..."

Sir William Rothenstein, in: T. E. Lawrence by his Friends, Ed. A. W. Lawrence, Jonathan Cape, London, First edition, 1937, p.287

John's Coydog Community page


  1. Hi John:

    Rothenstein's portrait captures him perfectly...the eyes have it! The mirrors of the soul.

    "...a small shy youth, fair and blue-eyed — I was surprised, as were most people at his unheroic appearance."

    Indeed so, that is until George Brough entered his life. I regularly pass the place of TEL's demise and fully understand how a powerful motorcycle liberates the soul.

    Neither do I believe the accident theory put out by HMG.



    1. Hi John,

      I'm looking forward to using your photos in the upcoming series.

      Yes, I think George Brough was being a bit too coy when he said "I have never met a more unassuming man, he would talk motor cycling to the biggest tyro at the game, and from his conversation, a stranger would probably form the opinion that T.E.L. himself was also a tyro. As a matter of fact, not only was T.E.L. extremely clever in anything technical concerning a motor cycle but he was one of the finest riders I have ever met."

      His death was no accident.



  2. If his death was no accident, as I believe, one must ask why, and who ordered it? I'm not sure that his 'relationship' with the BUF was such as to cause that amount of concern. Perhaps oil was behind it all?

    I also understand that black paint was found of the right handlebar consistent with having been in a collision with a black car - just like the black car no-one except the soldier saw!!!!!



  3. I can't get ahead of myself with this, but one episode of the series will be devoted to the subject.