New Perspectives on Robert Graves

New Perspectives on Robert Graves

New Perspectives on Robert Graves

New Perspectives on Robert Graves


"This book is largely the result of two international conferences held at Oxford and in Majorca in 1995 - the centenary year of Graves's birth. Since his death in 1985, full-length studies of Graves's work have been slow to appear. This volume offsets this oversight and brings the light of modern criticism to bear on the varied works of Robert Graves. The book is organized around five distinct themes that include studies on Graves's own literary criticism, offer new insights into his poetry, produce commentary on his often overlooked fictional output, make some reflections on the origins and importance of his White Goddess, and examine some literary crosscurrents that have pollinated Graves's work." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Patrick J. Quinn

1995 was the centenary of one of the most remarkable english writers of the twentieth century. His hundredth birthday was marked by two international conferences: one at St. John’s College, Oxford, where he received his undergraduate degree in English in 1925, and the other in his adopted island of Majorca. the conferences brought together scholars from eighteen countries and five continents as well as friends, family, muses, enemies, and interested onlookers, for Robert Graves was fascinating not only as writer but also as a man making his way through personal crises brought about by war, depression, displacement, and unrequited love.

Graves’s life and loves have been the subjects of constant criticism and speculation during his centenary year. Martin Seymour-Smith began the trend by rereleasing his 1982 biographical study of Graves, complete with new introduction and several significant revisions. Miranda Seymour’s more recent biography, Robert Graves: Life on the Edge, provides a useful perspective of Graves’s life through the eyes of a female novelist and biographer. Her assessment of Graves’s life and loves is fair and provocative, but her work avoids much critical discussion of his writings. the long-awaited third volume of Richard Perceval Graves’s biography of his uncle, Robert Graues and the White Goddess 1940–1985, also appeared in 1995. R. P. Graves’s work is meticulously constructed and well-researched but—like the two previous biographies—lacks pace and energy. the most pleasant surprise of 1995, the year of the Graves biography, was William Graves’s insightful portrait of his growing up with a famous father on the island of Majorca. Wild Olives weaves a wonderful story of Graves’s fame and its immediate disadvantages in the heady paradise of pretourist Majorca.

Unfortunately, the sudden and prodigious output of biographical material on Graves in 1995 was not balanced by an equal flow of scholarly criticism of his literary works. This owes something perhaps to Graves’s legendary status (promoted in the 1960s by Graves himself) as a larger-than-life figure dedicated to the service of which-

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