fastidious about the physical expression of passion. He mentions in Goodbye To All That: 'I have never . . . engaged in unnatural vice or 'slept with a prostitute'.1 His love poems are passionate, and they have sometimes a passionate salacity, but they are never--in Carew's sense, say--sensuous. The body has obviously never seemed to him an adequate cup to hold the wine of the spirit. There is a streak, perhaps, in him somewhere of simple English puritanism or public- school or old-soldier hardness. There is a streak of resentfulness at being bound to the body, and its needs, by passion. The shock and the tension, whose nature and sources I have here tried roughly to indicate, dictate between them the immediately recognizable texture of Graves's poems.
Graves is one of the most successful of modern historical novelists, yet of the type of imagination whose ability is to follow out action for its own sake, to make an imaginary train of consequences from a postulated situation and character--of the inventive type of imagination, in short--he has little or nothing. The action of a 'modern' novel of his like Antigua Penny Puce or of a 'futuristic' novel like Seven Days in New Crete is trivial or fantastic in itself, and throws no light at all on the complexities of human motives. This is really because Graves is not interested in ordinary human behaviour for its own sake, but only in human behaviour when it conforms to, or illustrates, some archetypal pattern. Thus in his historical novels, where the reader's attention is held--and sustained by a series of shocks--by Graves's interpretation of happenings which he has not had to invent, he always chooses as his heroes men who have had the inner force to mould events, to set patterns of behaviour, to make history:____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Robert Graves. Contributors: Martin Seymour-Smith - Author. Publisher: Longmans, Green. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1956. Page number: 9.
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