Tuesday, March 15, 2011

T.E. Lawrence's Revulsion Toward Sex

T.E. Lawrence's sexuality -- or rather his apparent lack of -- has long intrigued psychologists and historians alike.

As Michael Korda writes in Hero, Lawrence was abstemious
and incurious about sex by nature, lacked a sexual education, hated to be touched, and in all likelihood died a virgin.

Writes Korda:
"The result, perhaps intensified by self-consciousness over his short stature, was to produce a personality that was not so much 'sexless' as armored against sexual temptation, and the longer he avoided any kind of sexual relationship, the more difficult it became for him to have one."
Korda notes that perhaps nobody could have been better suited to understand Lawrence's mortification about sex that Charlotte Shaw (above), the celibate wife of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw:"
In this revulsion toward sex, she and Lawrence were very much alike, except that he had been violated [raped by a Turkish officer after being beaten], had given in under the pressure of pain, and had even felt, the ultimate horror, 'a delicious warmth, probably sexual . . . flowing through me . . . a fascination and terror and morbid desire, lascivious and vicious perhaps, but like the striving of a month towards its flame.' "
Shaw, in fact, based the main character in his Saint Joan in part on Lawrence, "providing a parallel between the saintly Maid and the ascetic Prince of the desert," as Shaw scholar Stanley Weintraub puts it.

No comments: