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Robert Graves: Life on the Edge [Kindle Edition]

Miranda Seymour
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Robert Graves (1895-1985) was one of the greatest poets and polymaths of the twentieth century whose long life matched the intensity of his imaginative output.

From his distinguished exploits in the First World War, described in his memoir Goodbye to All That, to his dramatic relationships with women, most notably the American poet and essayist Laura Riding, his life was one of extremes. He was a man who took huge emotional risks, and lived as if each day was his last, but who also produced works that were among the finest of his era.

Miranda Seymour has had full access to previously unseen papers and her research has also uncovered many important letters in private and public collections.

Her interviews and correspondence with many people who have not previously discussed Graves in public contribute to a rich and complex portrait of an extraordinary and troubled man and a great creative artist.

'Robert Graves: Life on the Edge' is the definitive biography of one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century.

'It is Miranda Seymour's Robert Graves: Life on the Edge that I would recommend first.' Times Educational Supplement

'The most balanced account of his life is Miranda Seymour's excellent biography.' Diana Mosley, Evening Standard

'Lucid and beautifully written.' The Tablet

'The most concise, the least pompous and partisan.' Blake Morrison, Independent on Sunday

'This sympathetic study of an egocentric, monstrous, lovable genius is beautifully written.' Literary Review

'This is a stirring story and Seymour tells it exceptionally well.' Independent

Miranda Seymour is the author of the innovative and widely admired ‘Ring of Conspirators’, a study of Henry James and his circle, and of the acclaimed biography ‘Ottoline Morrel: Life on the Grand Scale’, twelve times selected as book of the year for 1992. Her latest work is ‘Noble Endeavours: The Story of Two Countries, England and Germany, in Many Stories’. She also writes novels and children's books. She lives in London.

Endeavour Press is The UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Robert Graves (1895-1985), egocentric, obstreperous novelist, poet, critic and scholar of classical myth (The White Goddess), mythologized his own life, according to this intimate biography. Shell-shocked in WWI, Graves, enmeshed in homosexual circles, abruptly married strong-minded feminist Nancy Nicholson but abandoned her and their four children for charismatic American poet Laura Riding, leaving England and settling with her in Mallorca in 1930. Graves endorsed Riding's megalomaniacal belief in her supernatural powers, idealizing her as a savior and prophet of world peace, and as his muse, embodiment of the all-powerful ancient Goddess worshipped in matriarchal societies. But when Riding ditched him, Graves discovered the muse no longer resided in her. Despite the loving domesticity provided by his second wife, Beryl Pritchard, Graves pursued a series of young women, turning each into his muse. This, observes Seymour, was his way of atoning for guilt over the men he had killed in WWI, Riding's suicide attempt and the family he had abandoned. British novelist Seymour, biographer of Henry James and Ottoline Morrell, had full cooperation from Graves's widowed second wife and son William in writing this demythologizing biography. Photos.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Seymour (Ottoline Morell: Life on the Grand Scale, LJ 8/93) divides Graves's life "on the edge" into five parts, each of which explores the effect of a specific woman on his life and writing. In Seymour's opinion, these women became his source of inspiration. Seymour explores and develops the details of Graves's life but all too often fails to relate what impact the life's events had on such classics as The White Goddess and I, Claudius. The most interesting part of her biography is the account of Graves's experience as an officer in World War I, which afflicted him mentally throughout his life. Overall, Graves comes across as a man of strong conviction?pugnacious with enemies, generous with friends. Graves believed, "Poetry contains nothing haphazard," yet his life, as revealed in this biography, was ironically very haphazard; for example, he left his wife and four children to live with the American poet Laura Riding. This is a detailed, anecdotal biography for informed readers.?Tim Gavin, Episcopal Acad., Merion, Pa.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1467 KB
  • Print Length: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Endeavour Press Ltd. (November 26, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,071 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant portrait of a unique man January 19, 2005
By G. Otis
Robert Graves was astonishingly prolific and worked in many genres, so much so that for a while I thought there must be several writers by that name. He wrote lyric poetry, scholarly studies of mythology, drama, criticism, and journalism, he translated from Latin, and is probably best known for his potboilers "I, Claudius" and "Claudius the God," works that he considered purely commercial and took little interest in. And, as Miranda Seymour makes clear, he was as odd a duck as ever walked. His life was defined by the women to whom he devoted himself. "Abased himself" would perhaps be the better term. The first and most influential was the American Laura Riding, a second-rate poet who fancied herself some sort of prophetess who would save the world from war and turned Graves into her adoring puppy. Later in life Graves devoted himself to a series of young women, each of whom he claimed embodied "the goddess" in whose service he thought he dwelled. Seymour (a novelist herself) writes beautifully, and with the cooperation of key members of the Graves family she has produced what will surely be the definitive biography of Graves for years to come. She brings to life his almost effortless genius but never stoops to hero worship--she is unstinting in her examination of his faults. Here we see every aspect of Graves: his brilliance, his foolishness, his free spirit, his sexual repression, his generosity, his egocentricity. It is a portrait as fully round as one could possibly want.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Graves: A life of muses and magic July 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The biography of Robert Graves, especially written by Miranda Seymour, who is a thorough researcher and an accomplished author, is a jewel. Graves's life, shaped by his conservative upbringing, the participation in World War I, the quest for becoming a poet and earning sufficient income to support his families, as well as his attraction and submission to his muses, is a fascinating read. Since it really is a "life on the edge," we not necessarily have to relate to it personally; however, it it is a wonderful study of a man's creative process shaped by the life events that made their way into his exquisite poetry. For that, I'd recommend the book in a heartbeat!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good January 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really good book , amazing true stories and kept me turning the pages till the end . Good job to the author
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Robert Graves: Life on the Edge by Miranda Seymour felt like a very personal book that I could not get into or connect with. I am sure the author put alot of work into the book and the book was not compelling enough for stay interested in reading it. I cannot recommend this book.

Thank you for reading my review.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Personal view February 18, 2014
By Paul
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I could not get into this book which is a pity as it has the potential of being a really great read.
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