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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 RobertGraves by his nephew, Richard Perceval Graves. It takes over where the author’s father, Robert’s younger brother John Graves, left off. John, who died in 1980, had been described by Robert as a ‘typically good pupil of a typically good school’ (to which he returned as teacher); he had ...

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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... passion and I have never intentionally undertaken any task or formed any relationship that seemed 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 ...
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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... A poetic career as long as an average life-span – from 1908 to 1975 – should provide plenty of grist for the biographer’s mill. But here, as in other respects, RobertGraves 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 ...

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 RobertGraves 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 ...

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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... Three writers on the strength is a potential embarrassment for any fighting unit. In the Great War the Second Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers could muster RobertGraves (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 ...

Electroplated Fish Knife

Peter Howarth: Robert Graves’s Poems

6 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, RobertGraves 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 ...
23 June 1994
Richard Hughes 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Deutsch, 491 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 233 98843 2
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... in the twilight of Empire, between 1900 and 1950, a mere fifty years of elusive but positive literary ‘Englishness’. Four possible candidates, varying in attainments, would be T.E. Lawrence, RobertGraves, 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 ...

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 ...

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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... on inequalities that cannot be argued away. This carries over into his literary judgments, and 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 ...

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 RobertGraves 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Crap Towns

23 October 2003
... When RobertGraves 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 ...
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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... the catch-phrases of uncles and schoolfriends. Here he confesses his affection for Sid Field; it would not be easy to name more recent comedians likely to win his approval. He quotes a letter from RobertGraves 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 ...
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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... Caroline Lamb falls 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, RobertGraves 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 ...

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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... inside on themselves And came out all dressed, Each similar quid of the inward same Each similar quid dressed in a different way – The quids’ idea of a holiday. ‘The Quids’ was admired by RobertGraves, 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 ...

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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... a long novel but it is a very dense one, and told with a natural ease that tends to disguise the amount of thought and art that has gone into it. An Ancient Castle is a children’s story written by RobertGraves 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 ...

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