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Old December 14th, 2012, 10:45 AM   #1
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Did T.E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia,really wanted to be an Arab?


In the movie Lawrence of Arabia,there's a scene after Lawrence got captured and tortured in which he's disillusioned with fighting for the Arab cause.In fact right after he Ali states that a a man can be anything he wants to be, Lawrence then took out a clothe and pointed at his skin(which was very fair as typical for a Western European).

Lawrence states something that went like this:
"This is what determines what a mans like".

Not exactly in those words but basically he's saying that since his appearance is that of a "White Man" he can never fit in and suit in with the Arabs.

Now I always interpreted from that scene that Lawrence wanted to be an Arab and thought that by earning the respect of the Arab people and fighting for their freedom, he can be accepted as one of them in their society.In other words based on that scene and the movie's tone,I though Lawrence wanted TO BE AN ARAB.

Now I read some stuff on T.E. Lawrence namely parts of Seven of Pillars of Wisdom and Revolt In the Desert.However I have yet to see him state anything IMPLYING HE WISHED HE WAS ARABIC.

If anything,his writing contradict the movies claims.Yes Lawrence was an eccentric fellow who was extremely fascinated by the Arab people and their culture.However from what I read,Lawrence was not overly obsessed with the Arabs and did not hate himself for being European-he actually was a fan of ancient Greece and translated the Illiad an Odyssey!Additionally he was well versed in German,French,and other European languages.

I also recall a scene in Revolt In the Desert he was fighting the last Turkish regiment defending Damascus.Part of the regiment was German unit.Here alone,its obvious Lawrence was not as obsessed with Arabic culture and felt Western inferiority as the movie implies;HE ACTUALLY WAS AWED BY THE GERMAN TROOP'S HEROIC LAST STAND and praised their Discipline and Valor in such admiration that HE COULD NOT HAVE FELT THAT EUROPE WAS BARBARIC AND UNCULTURED AS HE HAD SHOWN IN THE MOVIE!

Could anyone clarify?

Last edited by Pisces Adonis; December 14th, 2012 at 10:51 AM.
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Old December 14th, 2012, 11:07 AM   #2
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Want to be an Arab? Good question and it's a pity we can't ask Churchill about his colonial minister period. Lawrence seems to have have been up and down in himself after Aqaba, he probably didn't recover from wounds and psychological damage from 1918. Despite his affiliations and respect for them, he was no more of an Arab than Thiesiger of the Marsh Arabs, I suspect. But then again if he'd have been acceptable to the Arabs, he might just have found something to do in retirement. Lawrence did lobby for Arab independence at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, while appearing in Arab robes. Are there any clues to his proclivities in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom? He didn't return to the Middle East but to his cottage in Dorset on his retirement in '35.
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