BUCHAN, John (1875-1940). Two typed letters signed ("John Buchan") to T.E. Lawrence, Oxford and London, 13 July 1927 and 12 March 1935. Together 4 pages, 4to.
The first is an engaging and personal letter showing great affection for Lawrence: "You are the only person I have ever known before whom I feel shy... [Revolt in the Desert] has been an amazing success, both here and in America, and you must have made a lot of money, which Hogarth tells me you have been ass enough to put for Air Force charities, about which you cannot care a hang." Regarding Seven Pillars of Wisdom and Lawrence's prosody, Buchan writes: "I never tire of reading it, for, apart from everything else, it is the best work on metaphysics produced in our time. When you do not get inundated with adjectives you are the best living writer in English prose."
Buchan discusses his position in the House of Lords, Lawrence's life in Karachi and their common interest in Sir Walter Ralegh. In a letter to Edward Garnett on 1 August 1927, Lawrence mentions Buchan's criticism: "John Buchan sent me a jolly letter. 'When you do not get inundated with adjectives' (the dear things, I like driving then four in hand: or 40 under my bonnet) 'you are the best living writer in English prose'. He does not mean it, but I take all praise at its face value."
Buchan's letter of 1935 details his impressions of The Mint which he has read in manuscript: "One thing is clear to me, that you are a great natural writer... Your visualising and observing powers are perfectly uncanny. The language, of course, makes much of it unpublishable, and, indeed, unprintable. But that is right and proper in a personal journal. If any parts of it are to be used afterwards, you will have to be careful about this particular verbal realism. I feel that most of our people to-day are rather stupid about this subject." Buchan proposes literary devices to enhance the work: "The easiest form would be a set of pictures and reflections. Your pictures will always be brilliant, and your reflections are the most thought-provoking things I have come across for many a day... [Y]ou would be the perfect biographer, for you can see a long way into the human heart, and you have an amazing power of imaginative construction.. [Y]ou have a gift of writing which, in many respects, has no parallel today." Both letters are published in Letters to T.E. Lawrence. Lawrence's letter to Buchan requesting that he read The Mint is printed in The Letters, pp. 836-837, along with his response to Buchan. (2)