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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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... LauraRiding, so Deborah Baker tells us, first emerged into the public world of books in 1924. She was 23 years old and living in Louisville with her husband, a history professor whom she met when he was her ...

Hello to All That

Martin Seymour-Smith

9 October 1986
Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic 1895-1926 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 387 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78943 0
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... understandable proprietory feelings. Eventually he was generous to me: he sent me many extracts from his father’s diary that he thought would be useful, gave me his opinions about the influence of LauraRiding on Robert, and talked to me at length and frankly on the telephone. He behaved as a conscientious man should behave. What I got from him was mostly confirmatory of what I had got from Robert ...

One for Uncle

John Bayley

5 April 1990
Robert Graves: The Years with Laura​ 1926-1940 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 297 79672 0
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... he only has to tell the story, making use of the family archives and private letters, for the revenge to be a tolerably complete one. The story is Graves’s long affair – 1926 to 1939 – with LauraRiding, and his eventual dismissal, or escape. No doubt it was both, yet it seems likely that if this extraordinary woman, a Circe in modern dress, had not set about enchanting a new Odysseus, a ...
3 February 1983
Robert Graves: His 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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... footnotes of a vaguely paranoid flavour. In a sense, he is only staking a claim to the definitive study of Graves, while tacitly admitting that this claim cannot be made good until after Graves, and Laura (Riding) Jackson, are dead. Laura (Riding) Jackson is, of course, no mean obstacle to gaining a clear and unobstructed view of Graves. Seymour-Smith’s first difficulty with her is that she is ...
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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... for Byron, and Elizabeth Smart for George Barker, while Mary Godwin and Shelley shadow the literary love of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, Robert Graves and LauraRiding, 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 ...

In Gratuitous Witness

Laura​ (Riding) Jackson

7 September 1995
... There are at least two words ‘poetry’, one meaning linguistic activity of a certain kind, the other meaning verbal matter produced by such activity. I speak in this little essay of what it is that poets are doing and what their activity amounts to in the scales of human behaviour, rather than of poetry the verbal matter – although I may be drawn into making incidental references to it. Another ...

The Promise of Words

Laura​ (Riding) Jackson

7 September 1995
... There are at least two words ‘poetry’, one meaning linguistic activity of a certain kind, the other meaning verbal matter produced by such activity. I speak in this little essay of what it is that poets are doing and what their activity amounts to in the scales of human behaviour, rather than of poetry the verbal matter – although I may be drawn into making incidental references to it. Another ...

Old Gravy

Mark Ford

7 September 1995
Robert Graves: Life 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 Graves: His Life and Work 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 600 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7475 2205 7
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Robert Graves: Collected Writings on Poetry 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Carcanet, 560 pp., £35, June 1995, 1 85754 172 3
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Robert Graves: The Centenary Selected Poems 
edited by Patrick Quinn.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 9781857541267
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... in the guise of a cruel woman to whom they are irresistibly attracted, but a woman poet must be her own Muse. Only a handful – such as Sappho, the seventh-century Irish poet Liadan, and of course LauraRiding – proved briefly capable of managing this double role, while Graves felt that no homosexual man could hope to be authentically inspired. As Randall Jarrell first pointed out in an excellent ...

Heavy Lifting

John Palattella: John Ashbery

7 June 2001
Other Traditions 
by John Ashbery.
Harvard, 168 pp., £15.50, October 2000, 0 674 00315 2
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John Ashbery and American Poetry 
by David Herd.
Manchester, 245 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 7190 5597 0
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... he discusses an eclectic group of 19th and 20th-century poets who for the most part have endured long periods of neglect: John Clare, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Raymond Roussel, John Wheelwright, LauraRiding and David Schubert. ‘I myself value Schubert more than Pound or Eliot,’ Ashbery says, and one can imagine some members of his audience gasping. In the introduction to his 1966 anthology ...

Electroplated Fish Knife

Peter Howarth: Robert Graves’s Poems

6 May 2015
Robert Graves: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 136 pp., £15.99, August 2013, 978 0 571 28383 5
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... occurring in it, but I cannot believe that he realised what now seems obvious enough: that Hamlet was a political allegory of his own disharmony.’ A Survey of Modernist Poetry (1927), written with LauraRiding, attacks the editorial urge to remove the crucial ambiguities of Sonnet 129 by tidying up the commas. ‘Shakespeare’s punctuation,’ they argue, ‘allows the variety of meanings he ...
24 May 2001
Allen Tate: Orphan of the South 
by Thomas Underwood.
Princeton, 447 pp., £21.95, December 2000, 0 691 06950 6
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... problem, it emerged, was to do with Tate’s complicated love-life. In his youth, as an ambitious young literary blade, Tate was known to have enjoyed some indiscretions (vide his ‘discovery’ of LauraRiding) but it was not until his later years – post-1940; he was born in 1899 – that he achieved Great Lover status. This randiness of Tate’s was not, O’Gorman has testified, ‘a phase, a ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves

11 October 2018
Robert Graves: From 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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... in the years after his encounter with Woolf. In 1926 Graves was offered a job at Cairo University, which was the only formal employment he ever had. He invited a young American poet called LauraRiding to come along, initially as his secretary, though they were soon to collaborate on one of the most influential works of criticism of the early 20th century, A Survey of Modernist Poetry (1927). The ...

Flossing

Andrew O’Hagan: Pukey poetry anthologies

4 November 2004
Poems to Last a Lifetime 
edited by Daisy Goodwin.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 717707 0
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All the Poems You Need to Say I Do 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Picador, 197 pp., £10, October 2004, 0 330 43388 1
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... successful magazines in America, and there is a separate bestseller chart for books whose titles love a colon, books that will settle for nothing less than improvement for their readers. Currently riding high are Why Your Life Sucks: And What You Can Do about It by Alan Cohen, When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving and Other Losses by John James ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Princess Di and Laura​ Palmer

22 January 2004
... never seen David Lynch and Mark Frost’s pioneering TV series of the early 1990s, Twin Peaks is a small town in Washington, five miles south of the Canadian border, 12 miles west of the state line. Laura Palmer, the high school homecoming queen, has been murdered. Agent Cooper – effortlessly dapper, crisply handsome, intimidatingly smart – is called in to investigate. He is assisted by the local ...

Bloody Horse

Samuel Hynes

1 December 1983
Roy Campbell: A Critical Biography 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 277 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 19 211750 5
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The Selected Poems of Roy Campbell 
edited by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 131 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 9780192119469
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... satire, The Georgiad. The central object of his attack was the ambiguous sexual life of Bloomsbury, and of Vita in particular, but his shotgun method reached many others, including Robert Graves and LauraRiding, J.C. Squire, and London literary politics in general. Some of the lines are funny, even witty, but more often the abuse is heavy, repetitious and sprawling: when Campbell was hating, he didn ...

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