The Mint (Modern Classics)

The Mint (Modern Classics) - T.E. Lawrence [Thee notes were made in 1984. Lawrence wrote the bare bones of this book as a journal during his first stint in the R.A.F. (under the pseudonym of Ross). He does not tell of the discovery, after a few months, that he was actually Lawrence of Arabia. What he tells of, as the title suggests, is a shaping or re-moulding process - how he felt himself and the rest of the men being moulded into working parts of a whole. The process was both brutal and somewhat unnecessary, and Lawrence is sensitive and intelligent enough to recognize both, even while the masochistic side of him is relishing the degradation and anonymity of the situation. Yet the picture he paints is not of the faceless camaraderie he seems to have hoped for: he is still an outsider. His "pound-note" talk sets him apart, and tho' he does fatigues and drills with the other men, he does not join them in their pleasures. Often, we find him sitting alone in the barracks while the rest are off chasing women. If Lawrence had any homosexual encounters during this time, he does not mention them. All he has to say of the matter is that "we are too intimate, and too bodily soiled, to attract each other." I can well believe that Lawrence's innate fastidiousness - one remembers the references to the cleanliness of the desert, and of Arab boys - was a principal source of torture for him in this particular setting. The third section of The Mint has to do with the time when Lawrence actually worked on planes, instead of the basic training stuff. He expresses great happiness about this period, which can only be partially accounted for by the relaxation of regimentation. This section was written two years after the fact, and the rest (despite protests to the contrary) has clearly been gone over and shaped. There is - we feel, as always - a lot that Lawrence isn't telling.