Edited by James T. Boulton
For those people—and there are many of them—who don't enjoy Lawrence's novels, who find his views on women naive or his political views resistible, the letters reveal another part of his life that I think is very poignant. In the earliest volume, the letters concern his first job, the first books he read and his first visits to the theater (he managed to see Sarah Bernhardt in 1908). He's an innocent, zealous, open-minded fellow. Across the years, you read of how he was persecuted for his work and of his own phenomenal restlessness—all coalescing into feelings of rejection and disappointment. His emotions are absolutely laid bare, revealing a surprising sense of humor and a ferocious energy. The artist as tortured genius is absolutely reflected in these pages. He talks at one stage about that great work of art, a man's life—and that's what we find in this collection.