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202 Baronet of Westmearth in Ireland. Surely the boy (who had read "all the books in the Oxford library") knew his Shakespeare , whose bastards are all villains. The legitimate, like Edgar in Lear, is "a brother noble,/whose nature is so far from doing harms,/That he suspects none." Like the villains, Lawrence was a contriver—constantly conceiving plans from how to reach Akaba to how to attain peace in the Middle East and how to deal with Hitler. But his schemes were idealistic. Here was an adolescent who could never grow up—wanting to play Hamlet, the legitimate—who was "most generous and free of all contriving"; writing about the crusader castles; dressing in the white robes of a prince of Mecca (and even having Augustus John paint his portrait in them); in death, his effigy in the pose of a saint. (John E. Mack's fine biography of him is entitled A Prince of Our Disorder.) Lawrence was aware of ironies: "Now gods; stand up for bastards." No wonder that finally he stripped himself of all honors, titles, rank, and money and became a monkPrivate Ross-Shaw-"Meek" (the last in G. B. Shaw's Too True to be Good.) But he still loved speed—chasing or fleeing fame or truth, on the fastest of motorcycles, eventually to his death. For those who know about him there is still in his name the freshness of the early morning. Rest in peace, Aurens: the scholars "plucking the entrails of an offering forth,/ could not find [the] heart within the beast." The mystery remains. Marianna Brose Arizona State University 5. THE NOVELIST AS BIOGRAPHER: A. N. WILSON ON HILAIRE BELLOC A. N. Wilson. Hilaire Belloc. A Biography. New York: Atheneum, 1984. $17.95 A. N. Wilson's Hilaire Belloc is at best a very mixed success. It would be easy to dismiss Hilaire Belloc as a bigoted windbag and nearly forgotten hack writer. It would be just as easy to wonder aloud why someone as obnoxious as Belloc—he even smelled bad—and whose one hundred and fiftyplus books were largely junk, was worth a biography. But unlikable people often are the best biographical subjects, and Belloc was comically—and to some endearingly— curmudgeonly, usually backing the wrong causes and the wrong people with dogged persistence at whatever the cost. Even Belloc's championing of Romanism in England was only because it was the family faith. He had as little interest in the Church's ethical or theological thrusts as he did in the goals of his political party when he was briefly a 203 Liberal M.P. His demonic energy seems to have been animated by a chip on the shoulder which no success or happiness was permitted to reduce or dislodge. Minus that bitterness Belloc might have been nothing more than an amiable eccentric ; charged by it, he was an exuberant polemicist who could write with forgettable gusto, pouring his prejudices into everything from travel books and unreliable histories to nonsense verse and economic planning. That he managed to earn a living from his writing is evidence of the humanity of the profession of letters, in which he was a noisy figure for four decades. A note to him dated 1909 from Sir Fabian Ware, the editor of the Morning Post, who employed him for five increasingly unproductive years as book editor, suggests Belloc's personality. "I owe you an apology," Sir Fabian wrote, "for the way I shouted at you this afternoon; but don't, please don't, on your rare and unexpected visits to the office (about which I shall say more on another occasion), stand in my door and wag a finger at me when I am engaged on a private and difficult business." Belloc took "jobs" as a way of making money, not with any intention of doing much more than lending his name to the enterprise; he was editor or literary editor of a number of publications which owed their financial failures, at least in part, to Belloc's energetic and shameless involvement in a dozen other things at the time. Yet he was, for a generation , a famous man of letters, and...


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pp. 202-206
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