BOOK REVIEW: “Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph” By T. E. Lawrence
Review by Susan Marie Molloy
Thomas Edward Lawrence is better known as T. E. Lawrence, and is best known as Lawrence of Arabia. He was an officer in the British Army and is renowned for his role as a liaison during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks and the Sinai-Palestine Campaign in the early twentieth century.
Proverbs 9:1 is the source of Lawrence’s title of his masterpiece work (“Wisdom hath built herself a house, she hath hewn her out seven pillars”), and this book is a tour de force of not only military history, but is a deep insight into Arab social customs and breathtaking descriptions of the landscapes in which Lawrence travelled.
While this is a lengthy book, it reads in the typically beautifully written literary style of the period, with spectacular descriptions and comprehensive analyses. For examples:
“The moral freshness of the world-to-be intoxicated us. We were wrought up in ideas inexpressible and vaporous, but to be fought for. . . . You could win, but had not learned to keep; and was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thank us kindly and made their peace.”
“. . . the heat of Arabia came out like a drawn sword and struck us speechless. It was midday; and the noon sun in the East, like moonlight, put to sleep the colors.”
“The dead men looked wonderfully beautiful. The night was shining gently down, softening them into new ivory. . . . round them lapped the dark wormwood, now heavy with dew, in which the ends of the moonbeams sparkled like sea-spray.”
What struck me as most impressive is Lawrence’s masterful use of the English language. As the reader undulates between the pages from descriptions of meals to treks through stifling heat to the blood of battle, one can definitely feel and experience all that Lawrence did.
It’s a rare treat to read a book that immerses you so deeply in another’s life that you feel you are with him on all adventures.
I highly recommend “Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph.”
© Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.