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Seven Pillars of Wisdom, The

Revolt in the Desert, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

T. E. Lawrence's largely autobiographical account of the Arab Revolt against the Turks during the First World War, upon which his reputation as a writer chiefly rests. A lavishly produced limited edition of the book appeared at Lawrence's expense in 1926, leaving him with substantial debts. He rapidly completed a severe abridgement, excising much moral speculation and troubled examination of his motives, with the result that Revolt in the Desert achieved commercial success in the following year. A trade edition of the complete text was published in 1935. The book describes events between Lawrence's arrival in Jidda in October 1916 and the establishment of an Arab government in Damascus two years later. Episodic, vividly descriptive, accounts of the actions of the highly mobile campaign and the desert landscapes in which it took place form the essential substance of the work. Much controversy has surrounded the matter of Lawrence's accuracy as a military historian, which is considered to have been diminished by his desire to convey a heroic impression of the Arab people and himself. Lawrence was assisted by G. B. Shaw and E. M. Forster in the composition of the book, which he began in 1919. The title The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which has no clear relation to the content, was originally that of a work he had formerly projected on the seven principal cities of the Middle East.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Seven Against Thebes (Hepta epi Thēbas; Septem contra Thebas) to Sir Walter Scott and Scotland