LXXIX - The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by Theodor Edward Lawrence - comments by André Bandeira
Everybody knows about David Lean's movie «Lawrence of Arabia» and those who have watched it, certainly remember as well, the superb acting in it of Peter O'toole.Reading the unabridged edition of this major book on the awakening of the arab peoples, after four centuries of decline, seems to me very helpful by watching TV and the experts' forecasts. Generally, the book is the report of an anguished soul, who has been subject in infancy to a strict anglican education, and who escaped up towards a stoic and efficient daydreaming. As a matter of fact, everybody knows, both from the movie and from History, that the secret agent Lawrence ( El Aurens, in arabic)never managed from his bosses, to fulfill the promise of an arab independence in the aftermath of first World War and the dismantlement of the turkish empire. He shows all the pain and grief for having to take decisions of life and death among the arab beduins, whom he managed to raise against the Turks, despite the fact that he knew, as well, that his much admired british General, Allenby, would never grant them independence. T.E. Lawrence was a Crusader by ideal but, in a way, he became an arab. This amounts to no surprise when some light is shed on the Templars and their alleged conversion to a kind of muslim mysticism, which costed them being torched under Philip's, the Fair, orders. As we know, the Arab world became divided under a franco-british mandate, according to the Sykes-Picot secret Treaty, which came to an end only during the Suez crisis of 1956. The arab countries were not only victims of colonialism, but also they were victims of the tragedy of Versailles Treaty. The book is full of wisdom, although it is hard to say how many pillars this wisdom is able to prop up. It is also full of horrible war scenes, described with pacifist purposes and shows how much the arab tribes, before independence, had a range which stretched from Morocco to Constantinopla. In a situation which was a «tertium genus» between civil and independence war, T.E. Lawrence manages to convince the reader that some genuine arab order is essential to a fair solution in the arab region. That is why he should be read in times where experts imply the aequivocal concept of «arab street» (an expression pertaing nowadays much more to London or Paris than to «Arabia» itself), thereby ignoring completely the different national traditions which emerged from the UN Charter on Decolonization, in the fifties.