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Lauraphobia

Jenny Turner, 10 March 1994

In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding 
by Deborah Baker.
Hamish Hamilton, 462 pp., £25, October 1993, 9780241128343
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... dressed in a different way – The quids’ idea of a holiday. ‘The Quids’ was admired by Robert Graves, who wrote a letter to Riding, inviting her to visit him and his wife in London. Riding would stay with Graves, first in London, then in Majorca, first in a ménage à trois, then as sole proprietor, for 14 ...

Fortunes of War

Graham Hough, 6 November 1980

The Sum of Things 
by Olivia Manning.
Weidenfeld, 203 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 297 77816 1
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The Viceroy of Ouidah 
by Bruce Chatwin.
Cape, 155 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 224 01820 5
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The Sooting Party 
by Isabel Colegate.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 241 10473 4
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An Ancient Castle 
by Robert Graves.
Owen, 69 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 7206 0567 9
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... of thought and art that has gone into it. An Ancient Castle is a children’s story written by Robert Graves in the early Thirties and only recently discovered among a collection of his manuscripts. It, too, brings an air from earlier days, those that followed the First War, with their memories of old-fashioned virtues, now threatened by chicanery and ...

Tio Sam

Christopher Hitchens, 20 December 1990

In the Time of the Tyrants: Panama 1968-89 
by R.M. Koster and Guillermo Sanchez Borbon.
Secker, 430 pp., £17.99, October 1990, 0 436 20016 3
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... hyphen, while it is true that men like Mikhail Suslov and Mao Tse-tung may have gone to their graves thinking of the Leninist state as history exemplified, it is not believable that Edvard Gierek or Milos Jakes or any of the other ‘Vodka-Cola’ general secretaries (Erich Honecker partially exempted) thought anything of the sort. When the Army deposed ...

Short Cuts

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Gordon Brown, 7 June 2007

... who attacked the Wilson administration’s infringement of neutrality during the Great War, or Robert Taft, who criticised the Nuremberg Trials as retroactive justice. In Brown’s book, there isn’t a page that anyone would find controversial or objectionable, unless there are places where Raoul Wallenberg and Nelson Mandela are despised. The treatment ...

Enlarging Insularity

Patrick McGuinness: Donald Davie, 20 January 2000

With the Grain: Essays on Thomas Hardy and Modern British Poetry 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 346 pp., £14.95, October 1998, 1 85754 394 7
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... obliquely related, spanning almost forty years: on Basil Bunting, Charles Tomlinson, Ted Hughes, Robert Graves, Hugh MacDiarmid, J.M. Synge, David Jones, George Steiner, Geoffrey Hill, Elizabeth Daryush and the fraternity of poets anthologised by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville in A Various Art. It also includes a number of Davie’s poems. If we were ...

Fighting Men

D.A.N. Jones, 2 February 1984

Ring of Truth 
by Vernon Scannell.
Robson, 342 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 86051 244 4
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The Tiger and the Rose: An Autobiography 
by Vernon Scannell.
Robson, 197 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 86051 221 5
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Man of War 
by John Masters.
Joseph, 314 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 7181 2360 3
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The Notebook of Gismondo Cavalletti 
by R.M. Lamming.
Cape, 248 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 224 02141 9
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The Rape of Shavi 
by Buchi Emecheta.
Ogwugwu Afor, 178 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 9508177 1 6
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Thomas Lyster: A Cambridge Novel 
by David Wurtzel.
Brilliance, 215 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 946189 30 7
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Don’t Swing a Cat 
by Eva Bolgar.
Bachman and Turner, 143 pp., £7.50, November 1983, 0 85974 098 6
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... poet to have been keen on boxing and, apparently, quite good at it: we may think of Lord Byron and Robert Graves. But few others, surely, have written and worried so concernedly about the ethics of this sport, its moral justification. Ring of Truth, his first novel since The Big Time in 1965, returns hungrily to Scannell’s old problem. Can deliberate ...

Advanced Thought

William Empson, 24 January 1980

Genesis of Secrecy 
by Frank Kermode.
Harvard, 169 pp., £5.50, June 1979, 0 674 34525 8
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... are some details, such as those about the Crucifixion, which the writers claimed as fitting in. Robert Graves has made splendid use of this line of explanation in The Nazarene Gospel Restored, deducing an entirely credible character. According to Mark and Matthew, the last words of Jesus were ‘My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’, though the other ...

Invalided home

Dinah Birch, 21 October 1993

The Eye in the Door 
by Pat Barker.
Viking, 280 pp., £14.99, September 1993, 0 670 84414 4
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... gone before. Many characters from Regeneration reappear in The Eye in the Door: Rivers, Sassoon, Graves. Themes and images also return, brought into closer focus. The authority of the eye, what it sees and what it imagines, has always mattered to Barker. A single gazing eye has brooded over her fiction from the first. ‘Her one naked eye staring out like ...
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology 
edited by T.F. Hoad.
Oxford, 552 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 9780198611820
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Dictionary of Changes in Meaning 
by Adrian Room.
Routledge, 292 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 0 7102 0341 1
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The Story of English 
by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert McNeil.
Faber/BBC, 384 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 563 20247 5
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Dictionary of American Regional English. Vol. I: Introduction and A-C 
edited by Frederic Cassidy.
Harvard, 903 pp., $60, July 1985, 0 674 20511 1
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... Thomas Hardy once told Robert Graves how he had gone to the Oxford English Dictionary to confirm the existence of a dialect word he proposed to use in a poem, and came to a standstill because the only authority quoted for it was his own Under the Greenwood Tree. This is an acute case of our dependence on dictionaries, and illustrates the commonest reason for resorting to them ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: David Jones’s War, 19 March 2015

... as Siegfried Sassoon and Ivor Gurney, and more than twice as long as Wilfred Owen, Charles Sorley, Robert Graves and Wyndham Lewis.’ It isn’t a competition, but his long acquaintance with the front is probably why the matter-of-fact tone of In Parenthesis – one tone among several – is so free of affectation. In the 1960s, Jones visited ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Shot At Dawn, 30 November 2006

... of the ordeal determined by the weather and the tightness of the bindings. In Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves remembers seeing his faithful servant, Private Fahy, spreadeagled on a wheel. ‘Tottie’, as he was known, got ‘28 days of it’ for drunkenness. Downey had been clobbered with the full ‘84 days’ on 25 November, a few weeks before he ...

Diary

Jenny Diski: In Praise of Older Men, 6 June 2013

... I had lunch with a writer friend of my foster mother, along with five or six visiting Russians and Robert Graves. Graves of the halo of curly white hair, not at all good looking, fat and pasty, in his late sixties or early seventies. I sat at the table opposite him in awed silence, gazing, longing for him to speak to ...

No False Modesty

Rosemary Hill: Edith Sitwell, 20 October 2011

Edith Sitwell: Avant-Garde Poet, English Genius 
by Richard Greene.
Virago, 532 pp., £25, March 2011, 978 1 86049 967 8
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... people violently and often and at such moments she was not silent, often in unexpected ways. When Robert Graves sold a copy of her book The Sleeping Beauty, which she had inscribed to him ‘in admiration’, she bought it back and resold it after adding: ‘I wrote this dedication at a time when Robert Graves was ...

The Last Georgian

John Bayley, 13 June 1991

Edmund Blunden: A Biography 
by Barry Webb.
Yale, 360 pp., £18.50, December 1990, 0 300 04634 0
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... at the end of ‘Report on Experience’ was sincere. Blunden and Sassoon were furious when Robert Graves published in 1929 Goodbye to All That. Blunden’s comments are of great significance, and deserve to be taken seriously as evidence of what men who loathed the war, and had been through a great deal of it, actually felt and continued to ...

Great Warrior

Robert Wohl, 21 January 1982

Memoirs of War 1914-15 
by Marc Bloch, translated by Carole Fink.
Cornell, 177 pp., £9, July 1980, 9780801412202
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... introduction, by Carole Fink. Readers who have derived their idea of what the war was like from Robert Graves, Erich Maria Remarque or Vera Brittain may be surprised, and even slightly shocked, by what they find in these pages. There is no bitterness towards those held responsible for the war, no sense of betrayal by the older generation, no shattering ...

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