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Hello to All That

Martin Seymour-Smith, 9 October 1986

Robert GravesThe Assault Heroic 1895-1926 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 387 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78943 0
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... This is the first volume of a projected three-volume ‘definitive’ biography of Robert Graves by his nephew, Richard Perceval Graves. It takes over where the author’s father, Robert’s younger brother John Graves, left off ...

Old Gravy

Mark Ford, 7 September 1995

Robert GravesLife on the Edge 
by Miranda Seymour.
Doubleday, 524 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 385 40423 9
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Robert Graves and the White Goddess 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 618 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 297 81534 2
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Robert GravesHis Life and Work 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 600 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7475 2205 7
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Robert GravesCollected Writings on Poetry 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Carcanet, 560 pp., £35, June 1995, 1 85754 172 3
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Robert GravesThe Centenary Selected Poems 
edited by Patrick Quinn.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 9781857541267
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... inconsistent with poetic principles; which has sometimes won me the reputation of an eccentric,’ Graves writes at the start of The White Goddess (1948), his synoptic account of the history of Western myth. His eccentricity took many forms, as many as the mercurial goddess herself, yet Graves seems never to have doubted the ...

Queen Famine’s Courtier

Paul Delany, 3 February 1983

Robert GravesHis Life and Works 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Hutchinson, 607 pp., £14.95, May 1982, 0 09 139350 7
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In Broken Images: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1914-1946 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1982, 0 09 147720 4
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Progress of Stories 
by Laura Riding.
Carcanet, 380 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 85635 402 3
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... should provide plenty of grist for the biographer’s mill. But here, as in other respects, Robert Graves is an awkward subject, for the salient feature of his career is its lack of obvious stages. Looking backwards from his 70th birthday, he observed contentedly: ‘I always aimed at writing more or less as I still do.’ Having paid his debt ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves, 11 October 2018

Robert GravesFrom a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... Virginia Woolf​ could be cruelly accurate in her assessments of people. On 24 April 1925 Robert Graves visited her unexpectedly and stayed too long. She described him as ‘a nice ingenuous rattle headed young man’, and declared ‘the poor boy is all emphasis protestation and pose.’ By 1925 Graves had good reason to be ‘rattle headed ...

Hairy

E.S. Turner, 1 October 1987

The war the Infantry knew 1914-1919: A Chronicle of Service in France and Belgium 
by Captain J.C. Dunn, introduced by Keith Simpson.
Jane’s, 613 pp., £18, April 1987, 0 7106 0485 8
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Passchendaele: The Story behind the Tragic Victory of 1917 
by Philip Warner.
Sidgwick, 269 pp., £13.95, June 1987, 0 283 99364 2
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Poor Bloody Infantry: A Subaltern on the Western Front 1916-17 
by Bernard Martin.
Murray, 174 pp., £11.95, April 1987, 0 7195 4374 6
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... any fighting unit. In the Great War the Second Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers could muster Robert Graves (Good-bye to All That), Siegfried Sassoon (Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer) and Frank Richards (not, as some have supposed, the creator of Billy Bunter but the author of Old soldiers never die, an excellent view of ...

Make mine a Worcester Sauce

John Bayley, 23 June 1994

Richard Hughes 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Deutsch, 491 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 233 98843 2
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... Four possible candidates, varying in attainments, would be T.E. Lawrence, Robert Graves, Peter Fleming (perhaps both Flemings) and Richard Hughes. It makes no difference that Lawrence was half-Irish, the Flemings mostly Scottish, and Hughes partly Welsh. The presidential or father figure of the group would be John ...

Electroplated Fish Knife

Peter Howarth: Robert Graves’s Poems, 7 May 2015

Robert GravesSelected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 136 pp., £15.99, August 2013, 978 0 571 28383 5
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... By spring​ 1919, Robert Graves was a demobilised war veteran, a new father and the author of four volumes of poetry. At this moment came ‘the first poem I wrote as myself’, as his autobiography describes ‘Rocky Acres’. After surviving years of front-line bombardment, a shell splinter through his right lung and the postwar influenza epidemic, Graves had returned to his cottage in the Welsh hills ...

At Free Love Corner

Jenny Diski, 30 March 2000

Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers 
by Frances Wilson.
Faber, 258 pp., £12.99, October 1999, 0 571 19288 2
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... shadow the literary love of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, Robert Graves and Laura Riding, Nadezhda and Osip Mandelstam, W.B. and Georgie Yeats all get chapters to themselves. Since some of her cases come close to the pathological, and most are ineffably silly, there is nothing instructive about reading or writing ...

Unaccountables

Donald Davie, 7 March 1985

The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... means that if you scratched his back, he was under no obligation to scratch yours: Edwin Morgan, Robert Garioch and Ian Hamilton Finlay are three Scottish poets whose work he dismisses where he might have been expected, if only for tactical reasons, to approve it. It is the same with Scottish literature of the past. MacDiarmid is almost alone among its ...

One for Uncle

John Bayley, 5 April 1990

Robert GravesThe Years with Laura 1926-1940 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 297 79672 0
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... A bolt-eyed, blue-shirted, shock headed hatless man ... ‘Mrs Woolf? ... I’m Graves.’ He appeared to have been rushing through the air at sixty miles an hour and to have alighted temporarily ... The poor boy is all emphasis, protestation and pose. He has a crude likeness to Shelley, save that his nose is a switchback and his lines blurred ...

Rapture

Patrick Parrinder, 5 August 1993

The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony 
by Roberto Calasso, translated by Tim Parks.
Cape, 403 pp., £19.99, June 1993, 9780224030373
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... Mythology was once defined by Robert Graves as the study of whatever religious or heroic legends are so foreign to a student’s experience that he cannot believe them to be true. Mythical stories are disturbing and invite disbelief; but our own myths are so taken for granted as to be largely invisible. Conventional encyclopedias of mythology exclude Biblical narratives ...

After the Woolwich

Frank Kermode, 7 February 1991

Spanner and Pen: Post-War Memoirs 
by Roy Fuller.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 190 pp., £16.95, February 1991, 1 85619 040 4
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... not be easy to name more recent comedians likely to win his approval. He quotes a letter from Robert Graves which, although it is about the poetry, gives an accurate representation of the way Fuller often sees his personality: ‘oppressed, stoical, humorous’, and not given to ‘chancing his arm’. There are various asides in which he speaks of a ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Crap Towns, 23 October 2003

... When Robert Graves left Charterhouse School in 1914, the headmaster wrote in his report: ‘Well, goodbye, Graves and remember that your best friend is the wastepaper basket.’ (Charterhouse is the public school that was recently reported to be replacing its tuckshop with a branch of Starbucks, but in fact isn’t ...

Gotterdämmerung

Christopher Hitchens, 12 January 1995

... been faced, with such a choice? In 1917 or thereabouts, Siegfried Sassoon confided to his friend Robert Graves that he was planning to ‘go public’, as a decorated front-line officer, with what he knew about real conditions on the Western Front. Graves had him put away for ‘shell-shock’, for his own good. That ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: The Wyatt Continuum, 20 November 2014

... Robert Wyatt​ is one of the last survivors of the 1960s pop music scene in Britain. He has been recording for nearly half a century. He was said to be reckless and unfocused for most of his life, but he’s also the best sort of slow-burner moving along at his own pace. Having gone for it late in the day, he hung on to his ‘tankie’ party card – Communist Party of Great Britain – beyond the call of duty, but only because he’d steered his very own Centurion into a deep thicket, opened the hatch and taken a lengthy breather before deciding the game was up ...

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