Robert Graves

Robert Graves

Robert Graves

Robert Graves

Excerpt

To poets, Robert Graves is mainly known as a poet. This, of course, is what he wishes. To the intelligent general reading public (and it is on this, not on his fellow poets or even on lovers of poetry generally, that he depends for a living) he is content to be known as perhaps the most versatile English prose writer of our time. He has done distinguished work in prose as an historical and modern novelist, as a humorous and polemical pamphleteer, as a close critic of poetry and a general poetic theorist, as a mythographer, as a translator, as a somewhat eccentrically original student of the Old and New Testaments, as a playwright (though his plays have never been performed), as a polite (and sometimes impolite) essayist, as a biographer and autobiographer. The value of his work in prose is exceedingly uneven; but he has never written a paragraph or a sentence that is not crisp and workmanlike, and he has never put forward an idea that does not at least merit serious discussion. Even where, as in his Clark Lectures, he appears a cranky and cantankerous writer--and a careless one, taking Yeats to be speaking in his own person in a poem written in the character of a woman--he is more worth reading than most 'safe' writers on his range of subjects. All his writing carries the flavour of a most original personality; a personality not superficially at all endearing, but with a lingering tart appeal, like the flavour . . .

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