From: Hudson Review, Summer 1991 (44 #2), pp. 189-202.


Harold Fromm


Myths and Mishegaas: Robert Graves and Laura Riding


            Now that Robert Graves has settled into literary history (after a long, flourishing career that effectively ended some years before his death in 1985 at the age of 90), the evidence would seem to suggest that his literary stock is on the down escalator, its value having had as much to do with his extraordinary prolificity ("170 entries found" was the frightening report of my library's computer) as with his actual working presence. Martin Seymour-Smith's critical biography of 1982 (published in the U.S. in 1983) consisted of one sufficiently fleshy volume, and since it alternated between informative chapters containing well-considered readings of Graves's works and chapters throwing fistfuls of unassimilated raw data at the bewildered and bored reader, the effect it produced was of a strongminded, utilitarian, and industrious sourcebook with little pretension to high art (though judicious pruning would have made it more readable).[1] His narrative voice was rough and ready, but only moderately distanced from the Gravesian world in which Seymour-Smith had been an important participant, so while he sometimes managed to be decisively critical, at other times he could be excessively admiring.


            Richard Perceval Graves, as a nephew of Robert, acquired still another kind of insider's advantage and perspective, as well as large masses of rich archival materials written by members of his penetratingly articulate family, materials unavailable to Seymour-Smith. "When my father John Graves (Robert's brother) died in January 1980," Richard Perceval reports, "I inherited from him thousands of items dating from the 1790s onwards: chiefly letters, but also diaries, personal memoirs, family trees, portraits and photographs."[2] The publication of Seymour-Smith's biography just as Graves started on his own was initially daunting, but Graves recovered quickly enough so that four years later he was able to produce the first instalment--Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic, 1895-1926--of what looks to be a three-volume life.[3] Although this promises to be almost twice as long as Seymour-Smith's, Graves has managed to assimilate an immense quantity of information into a consummately deft narrative. As a result, particularly in the second volume, The Years With Laura: 1926-1940, the story feels completely fresh and new, even though Seymour-Smith had already surveyed similar territory. While it is ultimately questionable whether Robert Graves warrants such extended attention in his own right, the work more than justifies itself in its own demanding terms as biographical art and literary history. The prose is ultra "clean"--a classical but contemporary English--ever so much more transparent than one is accustomed to in these days of academic heavy weather; there is scarcely a single sentence whose syntax elicits hesitation or reconstrual; and Richard Graves's moment-to-moment consciousness of the structural configuration of his grand narrative is so masterly that one has little sense of its having been pieced together from thousands of bits of data. Indeed, by the middle of Volume II, one has already recognized the self-effacing brilliance of his skill. Moreover, Graves preserves the intensity of his drama by wisely avoiding extended critical discussions that might weaken its force.


            The first volume provided the detailed background of Robert's family history, offering the view that his mother's Germanic inheritance as a von Ranke provided (to paraphrase Richard Graves) an iron constitution, a robust spirit, and "a high-minded and rather narrow idealism" that warred with other elements of Robert's personality. From the Graveses came his charm and warmth, his love of words (his father was a well-known poet and lyricist), his capacity for hard work, his cool arrogance, and his volatile pysche. [I,31-32] Yet in Good-Bye To All That, Robert Graves characterizes the Graveses as "cold" and "anti-sentimental," castigating his father (unfairly) for neglecting him, and speaking of the von Rankes' "goodness of heart." These shifting family characterizations have become a fixture of Graves criticism because of the need to account for Robert's own striking psychological contradictions. But one could as easily insist that both families display their own antinomies. Robert's mother, so indisputably influential, herself was a mixture of rigidly pious conventionality and ever-accommodating maternal warmth. And Robert, suffering as an odd-ball during his almost paradigmatic years of English "public school" education, learned how to marshal his own dualities, outwitting tormenting classmates by an ingenious mixture of public boxing skill on the one hand and, on the other, the solitary writing of poetry as a form of self-therapy (a role that poetry played for the rest of his life).

            The Great War played its lifelong part too. Robert Graves received almost fatal wounds while serving in the trenches, but he persisted in returning to the front in France until his superiors would no longer permit it. Yet confronting his seemingly intrepid warrior side was always an aversion to masculine domination and an unworldly, highly-strung sensitivity: the effects of shell-shock and the trauma of his proximity to gory death in the senseless destruction of an entire generation of young men were something he never overcame. Years afterward, riding on trains or even speaking on the telephone would unleash recollections that eventually led him into psycho-therapy. Though he thought the exorcizing creation of Good-Bye To All That would eliminate the war from his writing and psyche, it continually resurfaced in other guises, like the battle scenes that abound in his novels about earlier times. Much, perhaps most, of his writing was the offspring of a rigorously classical education that turned him into a proficient scholar of Latin and Greek, and fueled poems, mythologies, critical essays, and novels of impressive learning. But the conflict between his classical aesthetic and his need to face up to mankind's animal violence was destined to cause problems in the tone and point of view of his writings.


            Most of these conflicts are only too concretely enacted in the tumultuous and nonplussing pages of Richard Graves's The Years With Laura, and the catalyst that sets some of them off is a fragmentation bomb known variously as Laura Reichenthal, Laura Gottschalk, Laura Riding, and (in the volume yet to come) Laura (Riding) Jackson. Although  Mrs. Jackson (still hurling thunderbolts at ninety) has been known to write scathing letters to literary journals and newspapers when she is not correctly named (parentheses and all), the operating term during the period in question was "Laura Riding."


            Riding was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1901 (Graves in 1895) to an immigrant Jewish family. She married early, spent several years at Cornell, got involved with the Fugitive poets--Ransom, Tate, Davidson and others--and was often published in their Nashville journal, receiving a good deal of admiration from its inner circle, as well as outsiders. Ambitious, aggressive, omniscient, opinionated, seductive, unstoppable, she bulldozed her way into literary circles, had an affair with Tate, divorced Gottschalk early on, corresponded with Robert Graves, and quickly took up his invitation to pay him and his wife, Nancy Nicholson, a visit in England in 1926 as a literary assistant. Upon which the entire family, including Laura, left for Cairo, where Robert managed to teach at the university for a few extremely uncongenial months before resigning.  Robert's marriage of eight years had been deteriorating for some time, but the establishment of a threesome seems to have done more good than harm. Riding took imperious control of Graves, serving as both lover and mentor, but also freeing Nancy to care for their four children. In fact, Laura and Nancy were rather fond of each other.  The threesome soon turned to four when Geoffrey Phibbs, an admiring poet, was virtually summoned from Ireland by Riding to join the existing ménage in London, where they had settled on returning from Cairo. Riding, already losing sexual interest in Graves, took up with Phibbs, but when Phibbs fell in love with Nancy, Laura jumped from a fourth story window (fifth by American reckoning) and was almost fatally smashed up. Surgical skill enabled her to survive as a semi-invalid, going off to settle in Mallorca with Robert while Nancy continued to live with Phibbs and the children. After several years there, the Spanish Civil War forced Riding and Graves to live variously in England and on the Continent, always surrounded by a coterie of writers and intellectuals (often sharing the same household) and the concomitant sexual/emotional tensions that such arrangements inevitably produce. 


            By the late thirties, the relationship between Riding and Graves was laboring under a network of radical psychological antagonisms, although neither of them tended to acknowledge it (except in a thinly veiled hostility in their fiction and poems), and Robert remained her perennially awed subject, taking the kind of extensive abuse on which he seemed to thrive. But as a result of a few interchanges of letters between Laura and Schuyler Jackson, an American poetry critic for Time, a trip to the U.S. was engineered by Laura during which, as she anticipated and designed, she fell in love with Jackson (while Robert did likewise with Beryl Pritchard--who had, unfortunately, just been married to Alan Hodge), precipitating his wife's madness and the Jacksons'ultimate divorce. The connection with Graves collapsed and both eventually married their new lovers.


            But a summary of this sort fails to provide even a clue to the almost unbelievable nature of the Riding-Graves liaison, because for Robert Graves, whose life and creativity were falling apart after the Great War, Laura Riding was salvation itself, serving his need for a ruthless female director, a goddess or "Muse,"  to nourish and channel his scattered energies and talents. "Suddenly he was held in the highest possible regard by a being who was not only the woman he loved, but a manifestation of divine authority and perfection." [II 90] Laura Riding, however little known she may be today, was nonetheless one of a handful of the most powerful (in every sense) figures in early twentieth-century Anglo-American literary history. Her plenipotent intellect and personality swept away all resistance, reducing to discipleship, abject servility, or virtual madness anyone who could not manage to shake him/herself free from her mesmerizing, tyrannical influence. Her most subjective responses to experience were translated (by her as well as her followers) into world-historical imperatives and aesthetic universals, while her insight into the multiple layers of human personality enabled her to manipulate everyone around her intellectually, emotionally, and sexually. (By twisting a few knobs on her psychological instrument-panel, she could tweak the emotional chemistry of practically anyone she ever knew, initiating or poisoning intellectual and erotic affairs at will.) She told Geoffrey Phibbs "that she was more than human. They could think of her, if they liked, as a goddess; she was certainly a figure of destiny, or (as she herself preferred to say) she embodied 'Finality.'" [II 78] When she lost sexual interest in Graves, she announced that sexual intercourse was passé and that bodies had had their day. 


            Graves's first wife, Nancy, was another strongminded woman--an avowed feminist--who refused to be subjected by men and whom Robert scarcely dared to criticize. But because she was not an intellectual, she could not begin to supply the literary and creative motivation he required. Once the new union was established, however, Riding and Graves poured out literary products--singly and jointly--from a conveyor belt with no end in sight. Poems, essays, novels, literary criticism and theory, philosophico-political manifestoes for saving humanity from World War II--the output was extraordinary. Riding's astringently philosophical poems exerted an influence on Auden (who was then despised for his borrowings, since she herself never caught on as a poet) and the New Critics carefully took in Graves and Riding's Survey of Modernist Poetry (1927), whose close reading of Shakespeare set the model for Empson and his followers while promulgating the view of a poem as an autotelic, self-existent substance unbeholden to the outside world or to history. It was history, in fact, that Laura Riding was hell-bent on escaping or subverting--not through suicide, necessarily, but through the rigorous mental and artistic discipline that was expected to lead to eternal verity.


            Yet not everyone was a convert. Two of Robert's remarkably forebearing sisters could appreciate Laura's unique gifts while simultaneously regarding her "as a borderline mental case." [II 107] "Of course [one of them wrote] they're all completely insane--but G[eoffrey] & N[ancy] seem to me to be the saner couple of the two. They see L[aura] as selfish, egotistical & domineering--wishing to possess the entire personality of anyone she likes....L[aura] calls herself 'Finality' whatever that may mean." [II 108] The word that keeps coming to mind is "demonic," and some people even considered her a witch. Yet Robert could tell his sister that "one cannot talk of there being any good in Laura [i.e., any good would be too little]. She is seamless, like the garment of Christ." [II 110] Robert's parents were subjected to repeated anguish and suffering, because Laura encouraged Robert's latent ruthlessness. Their shared megalomania required him to cast off all the Victorian self-suppressions that had controlled him as a youth, quite literally leaving father and mother to follow his unseamly Christ. As replacement for his former Christian piety he became an increasingly blunt, outspoken, and obnoxious antibourgeois rebel. Some of the letters to his parents, his wife, and even confreres like T. S. Eliot, are nothing short of vicious. Thus, despite Richard Perceval Graves's fondness for his uncle, Robert Graves comes off in Volume II as an almost completely unmitigated bastard.


            It was at the beginning of his first volume that Richard Graves prepared us with a list of Robert's mature operating beliefs. Although most of these were fuzzily latent in his earliest, most unworldly, doings and writings, it required the ruthless intellectuality of Riding to bring them to functional potency. She might not have been equally enthusiastic about every item on Richard Graves's list, and she would have understood them in a somewhat different sense, but she would largely have endorsed the beliefs that organized religion is the enemy of freedom; that the world is a stranger and more magical place than appears at first sight; that Poetry itself is a modified descendant of primitive magic; that ordinary perception and formal logic have their limits, and that beyond them lies a timeless land which is quite at odds with conventional life; that society had once been matriarchal, and that many of our present ills could be attributed to the fact that men now ruled instead of women; that literal truth is relatively unimportant, as an artist can tell the truth by a condensation and dramatization of the facts; and that there are areas in which intellectual thought is markedly inferior to associative or 'analeptic' thought. [I,4]


            Without sacrificing his own particular affective and intellectual dualities, Graves was able to incorporate those of Riding. But some of the suppressions and recalibrations her metaphysical toughness enforced on his writing may very well have enabled--while also wrenching askew--much of what he produced under her surveillance, even though his writing expressed a radically different personality from hers, one that thrived on submission rather than domination and on poetry rather than philosophy. He believed that experience--not thought--was the basis of poetry, while Riding strove to eliminate the personal if it was not also abstractly universal. Still, his post-Riding works are frequently disparaged.


            The departure of Riding and Graves to Mallorca in 1929 was in fact their farewell to English society and the modern world, a world of industrialism, politics, English rationalism, and bourgeois savagery that they loathed as much as D. H. Lawrence. Graves preferred the timeless "one story and one story only" of White Goddess mythology and Riding preferred the "Monoton" (to use the term from her poem, "The Quids") of absolute platonic-philosophical truth. Graves's autobiography covering the years leading to this emigration, Good-Bye To All That, first published in 1929 and then substantially revised for the 1957 edition because of its hasty, careless, and often indiscreet writing, was the first of the popular blockbusters he claimed to have written mostly for money. Yet despite its sporadic power and éclat, it provides a foretaste of almost all of the weaknesses to be found in Graves's later output. Although it must head any list of books about the Great War because of its gory, horrifying picture of trench warfare, both factually (as Graves concedes) and emotionally it is very unreliable. Its narrating persona--cocky, satirical, insouciant--was strongly influenced by Samuel Butler's mockery of Victorian middle-class morality. But it creates a radical disjunction between the horrors of the events and the comedy of the telling that is very unsettling. (Paul Fussell examines the book principally as comedy and caricature in The Great War and Modern Memory.) Furthermore, Graves's remarkably chatty fluency (here and elsewhere) is not dependably informed with good judgement, so that the two hundred or so tragi-comic pages on trench warfare are excessive and debilitating, undermining much of the book's potential force.


            His most widely read novel, I, Claudius (an outstandingly successful BBC television serial and now a videotape), exposes Graves's prose difficulties even further. A brilliantly conceived, researched, and executed first-person historical narrative that reconstructs the life of a shadowy, mentally-retarded, and little-known Roman emperor, I, Claudius is told in much the same voice as Good-Bye To All That, but this time around we can see that the persona of the somewhat spacey, foolish but wise, inept but cunning, anti-hero--who survives much longer than the politically correct know-it-alls--is a fixture of the Gravesian self-image, one that persists to the end of his career. Even as the reader is astonished by the virtuosity involved in keeping this loquacious machine going, he soon begins to wonder whether such stupifying prolixity can just rattle on forever. But the source of this alarm is clear: there is no sign whatever of an interior life taking place underneath all the clever persiflage.       


            Robert Graves, from every indication, had a very busy interior life indeed. But for all his association with the dark, irrational, untamed forces of mythology and antibourgeois romantic/primitive art, his aesthetic had much greater affinity with Augustan comedy (both Roman and English) and classical sensibility. Despite his fulminations against "Apollonian" art, against rationality, and the socially sanctioned "Great Writer" underwritten by the bourgeois polity (of whom Virgil was a hated instance, not to mention Milton, Pope, Yeats, and practically everyone else) and despite his reputation (among some) as "the greatest love poet of the twentieth century," there is a striking absence of sensual or psychological resonance in his work, not just in the prose but in much of the poetry as well. (Neither of the biographers deals with this, nor can I presume to do so here.) Progressing through his writings, one is upset not by deep, troubling undercurrents of primal humanity pulsating through a multivalent diction--but mostly by their absence, and this may account for a certain weightlessness in so much of Graves's output. Although I, Claudius is supposed to represent the thoughts that might have been entertained by a Roman of the Empire, in practice Graves does not hesitate to employ anachronisms whenever they suit his purpose. But the big anachronism he avoids is any suggestion of the deeper layers of personality that might have given rise to the utterances of this re-imagined Claudius, whose cunning is only superficially motivated. (This lack of affect is bad enough in I, Claudius, but in Good-Bye To All That it is passing strange.) Can the White Goddess, after all is said and done, really turn out to be Jonathan Swift in anthropological drag?


            As for Graves's celebrated appropriation of Frazer and other mythographers--a product of simply staggering industry, like Burton's madcap Anatomy of Melancholy--one can only wonder how many people have actually read The White Goddess through from cover to cover without reconstructive brain surgery either before or after. In the fifties it was apparently a cult book among aspiring poets at Oxford and Cambridge and to read it through--as an undergraduate rite de passage--doubtless functioned in those purlieus in the way that downing twenty cans of beer or swallowing live goldfish function on campuses elsewhere. This egregiously voluble compendium of scholarship-run-amok purports to find a sort of Primal Feminine, a Goddess or Muse, driving an aboriginally matriarchal culture that was subsequently displaced by today's ruling patriarchy, which Graves regards as the source of all our woe. The chief function of a real poet (as opposed to Virgil, Milton, and all the rest) is to celebrate the birth, copulation, and death connected with the operation of this female force, poetry's "one subject only." (The poem "To Juan at the Winter Solstice" is a notable airing of the dogma.) But whether Graves himself can be said to have met his own requirements is an open question.


            Graves thought of himself chiefly as a poet, not a novelist, and produced a large poetic corpus over a long lifetime. There is no typically Gravesian poem, since the work evolved through varied phases, but a well-known, conveniently brief specimen, "On Portents" (generally understood to be about Laura Riding as goddess), gives some sense of his prosodic bouquet:


If strange things happens where she is,

So that men say graves open

And the dead walk, or that futurity

Becomes a womb and the unborn are shed,

Such portents are not to be wondered at,

Being tourbillions in Time made

By the strong pulling of her bladed mind

Through that ever-reluctant element.[4]


As can be seen here, Graves was largely a traditionalist who resisted the esoteric derailments of modernism (though he had plenty of his own esoterica and operated pretty much off the rails). But at the same time, puzzlingly, he claimed not to care about the common reader, whom he thought sufficiently addressed by his money-making novels. His main theme was love, particularly as it related to the cult of the White Goddess, but he rejected the whole "Apollonian" tradition of rational, social, public poets. He alleged he was greatly influenced by the prosody of John Skelton and John Clare, two maverick, anti-social, rough-metered, often satirical sports of English poetry, and he described in a charming little poem called "Flying Crooked" how his own eccentric, stumbling, flight was nonetheless closer to the real path for poetry (just as Claudius's bumbling idiocies had greater survival value than civic tradition). Yet the "real" path, involving love and myth, rarely produced the powerful effects of, say, large numbers of Yeats's poems with similar provenance. Instead, Graves's poems retain a classical coolness--often bringing to mind the distinctive music of Dryden's nippy sensuousness. It seems everyone admires Graves's craft, as well as a modest number of "successful" poems, but since the sixties the critical response has grown increasingly cautious.


            In 1980, Patrick J. Keane complained that Graves avoided penetrating "to the experiential sources of creativity" (a variant of my charge of surface without interior life), and that "there is, after all, no guarantee that an intricately 'crafted' poem will not be trivial." He concluded that Graves is perhaps only a major minor poet.[5] More recently, Robert Richman accused Graves of seeking "protection from a fallen world in the cold arms of an abstract goddess," so that  "reading through Graves's poems, one finds oneself aching for a dose of the hated world the poet seeks protection from--even that portion of reality which is no more than 'dirtiness and intrigue and lustfulness.'"[6] But the most comprehensively damaging estimate of Graves's achievement comes from Anthony Burgess:


            For Graves's importance as a poet still seems to be in doubt. He has produced enough to ensure that (as with Wordsworth) at least ten percent of his output has to be taken seriously, but there is not one stanza or even line of his that has become a common quotation among the literary. [To Graves] Pound may have been an imposter, Auden a plagiarist, Eliot a timeserver and Yeats (whom Graves particularly despised) a poseur, but they have all modified our attitude to life and implanted certain ineffaceable rhythms in our brains. Graves does not hug the memory. He seems rhythmically flaccid and has never quite come to terms with the movement of spoken English. His diction has a tendency to obsolete inversion. There are many poems of his which one would not be without.... But his extravagant rejection of the entire corpus of modern poetry in English--with the exception of Hardy, Frost, Ransom and, of course, Riding--put him into a position of dangerous eccentricity demanding from his readers a rehabilitation of taste more appropriate to a cultus than to a decent catholicity.[7]


            It is a delicious irony in the history of taste that Laura Riding herself now appears headed for contemporary resuscitation, though it may turn out in the end to be little more than another Warholdian fifteen minutes. A recent letter to the New York Times Book Review announced that two biographies of Riding were currently in the works. And on the icy morning of December 29th, 1990, I roused myself dark and early to attend an 8:30 AM special session on Riding at the Modern Language Association's convention in Chicago. The papers--on Riding's place in literary history; on Riding's novel, A Trojan Ending; on woman, language, and Riding's renunciation of poetry;[8] and on Riding's essentialism--were stimulating, the audience sizable, the response enthusiastic.


            But it is almost inconceivable that Riding's works could ever catch on with more than a small coterie of devoted admirers, literary historians, or doctoral candidates--and not because she is too lightweight to warrant serious attention. Rather the reverse: she was caught in the grip of a cosmic consciousness too Platonic and (however contradictorily) Heideggerian, too weightily truth-seeking and essentialist to allow her to function gracefully in the world of appearances in which all the arts (except music) have their being and nourishment. Abandoning the sensuousness, the figurativeness, the visual imagery of poetic language, as well as rhyme and meter; eschewing the multivocity and play of meaning that are inescapably bound to language--she tried to purify words of their connotations so they would be the direct emanations of cosmic soulhood. Achieving this, poetry would be the vehicle--the only vehicle--of truth-telling. Indeed, she tried to purge herself of everything idiosyncratically concrete so that her own self would also be a universal, spiritualized substance--in a word, "Finality." (In both attempts she failed, and after her marriage to Schuyler Jackson she came to acknowledge that she too was a sexualized being wrought from the common dust.) Many of her poems explicitly dealt with language and its relation to truth and "being." Her own language, flayed and disembowelled of anything considered bogus or inessential, became increasingly austere, spare, and incomprehensible. At its most accessible (with a few concessions to traditional poetics), it could sound like this:


This is not exactly what I mean

Any more than the sun is the sun.

But how to mean more closely

While the sun shines so approximately?

What a world of awkwardness!

What hostile implements of sense!

Perhaps this is as close a meaning

As perhaps becomes such knowing.

Else I think the world and I

Must live together as strangers and die--

A sour love, each uncertain whether

Was ever a thing to love the other.

No, better for both to be nearly sure

Each of each--exactly where

Exactly I and exactly the world

Fail to meet by a moment, and a word.[9]


            "Even before 1930 " writes her chief commentator, Joyce Wexler, "Riding had tried to capture the universal rather than the particular in her poetry. Read chronologically, her work demonstrates the process of continually subtracting the personal elements of ordinary life from her vision of spiritual reality. After eliminating the variety of nature and the diversity of subjective sensory perception, she arrived at zero."[10] Indeed, she eventually gave up poetry altogether and embarked with Jackson on the futile enterprise of producing a dictionary of the essential meanings of words, a plan barely comprehensible in our post-Saussurean, post-Derridean age.  Explaining her renunciation of poetry, she wrote: "I came close to achieving, in my poems, trueness of intonation and direct presence of mind in word. But, what I achieved in this direction was ever sucked into the whorl of poetic artifice," an artifice she could never tolerate and which had contributed to her growing contempt for Robert Graves by the early 1930's.[11] The logic of her lifelong quest implied a progression toward silence, a movement that eventually put a period to her career as an artist. Yet even today, as an opinionated voice of literary history, she is talking still.


            After the MLA session's panelists had finished their highly engaged considerations of Riding as modernist or postmodernist, of the lasting effects of her attempted suicide, of her own special brand of feminism, of her distinctive views of language, we heard from a respondent who may very well be one of Riding's putative biographers.[12] Having been in touch with the author for a number of years, she was able to inform us that the indomitable Mrs. (Riding) Jackson had actually read all of the papers; and though her reaction to them seemed gracious and cordial, one had the sense nevertheless that she mostly found them hopelessly academic--and quite, quite wrong.

[1] Martin Seymour-Smith, Robert Graves: His Life and Work (New York, 1982).


[2] ROBERT GRAVES: The Years with Laura, 1926-1940, by Richard Perceval Graves. Viking. $24.95. P. vxiii.


[3] ROBERT GRAVES: The Assault Heroic, 1895-1926, by Richard Perceval Graves. Penguin. $12.95.


[4] Robert Graves, Collected Poems (London, 1975), p.107.


[5] Patrick J. Keane, A Wild Civility: Interactions in the Poetry and Thought of Robert Graves (Columbia, Missouri, 1980). Excerpted in Modern Critical Views: Robert Graves, ed. By Harold Bloom (New York, 1987), p. 151, p. 153.


[6] Robert Richman, “The Poetry of Robert Graves,” The New Criterion, October 1988, p. 73.


[7] Anthony Burgess, “The Magus of Mallorca,” in Modern Critical Views, p. 172.


[8] I am grateful to Susan Beth Koenig for sending me a copy of the paper she delivered on this subject.


[9] “The World and I,” from The Poems of Laura Riding: A new Edition of the 1938 Collection (New York, 1980), p. 187.


[10] Joyce Piell Wexler, Laura Riding’s Pursuit of Truth (Athens, Ohio, 1979) p. 80.


[11] Quoted in Wexler, p. 145.


[12] I received a copy of this response from its author, Elizabeth Friedman, whom I would like to thank.