I am reading T. E. Rorensu (or T.E. Lawrence, TEロレンス) by KOUSAKA Tomoko (神坂智子) for the tenth time in less than a year, albeit it not being a series that I enjoy reading as much as I do with Aoi no Maharaja by the same artist….
When I originally picked up the series for the first time, I “examined” it more closely on the images then its text due to my Japanese iliteracy (unfortunately). From a quick outlook, T. E. Rorensu would appear to be simply a shounen-ai themed manga loosely based on the legendary Lawrence…. but it alone would not justify for the “greatness” of manga, especially since it has been reviewed as one of the “most classic” shoujo manga by many Japanese readers.
Thus my crusade of studying T.E. Lawrence has begun…
I re-read the manga again and again, each after I have studied a little more about “Lawrence of Arabia” through, either the epic film (of the same title) or “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” the autobiography written by Lawrence himself, alongside many other researches online…
This is the thing. The more I learned about Lawrence from different accounts (whether or not accurate or fictional), the more I am attracted to the legend; someone who was emotionally torn between his love of Arabia (which reflects his desire for “freedom”, or “free spirit” so to speak) and his loyalty to the Great Britian (i.e. patriotism), as well as being a destroyed genius who was physically and sexually abused at his capture by Turkish millitary.
After my tenth time of reading T. E. Rorensu, I would still summarise it as “a shounen-ai themed, loosely based on the legendary Lawrence”. But in addition to that, through the narrative created by the author, KOUSAKA Tomoko has successfully represented to readers the complex and contradictory sides of Lawrence in her account.
More information about the manga can be read at Ouphrontis’s webpage here (highly recommended!). It is also worth noting that a version of Ouphrontis’s paper (on T. E. Rorensu) was also given at a meeting of the T.E. Lawrence Society (London Group) AGM, December 2001.