Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » March 2005 » Bibliophiles: Graves & Milton

[« Museum Awards Go To...] [Thought for the Day: »]

03/16/2005: Bibliophiles: Graves & Milton

Jon Rowe's Blog Meme response about choosing the works of "Milton" for his "deserted island reading" reminded me about one of my other favorite books and my choice of Robert Graves and his other writings and works, his autobiography and his biography. So, I thought I'd throw this out there for you other Bibliophiles who might be interested.

To read this bookish piece, click on the "more" button.

Robert Graves, in addition to being widely known for his "I Claudius" and "Claudius The God" novels (which also were made into a wonderful Masterpiece Theater 13-part series) wrote many other fictional histories, including one called "Wife to Mr. Milton". This book was written in the form of an autobiographical account of Milton's first wife, "Marie Powell of Forest Hill", whom Milton married when he was a virgin bachelor at 33 and she but 16 years old.

The book jacket cover says:

"Marie Powell, the willful daughter of a penniless 'gentleman' farmer, was sixteen when John Milton married her for her dowry. The dowry proved illusory, the Puritan genius proved a domineering prig with little sympathy for his sensuous, sharp-witted young wife. Robert Graves lets Marie tell her own story: his sympathy for the woman's point of view is, as always. strong and uncannily perceptive."

This also put me in mind of Robert Graves' own life and background...180 degrees reversed of Milton's story. If you want a howling scream of a story, Graves' nephew, Richard Perceval Graves, wrote a biography of his uncle, published in 1990: "Robert Graves; The Years with Laura Riding - 1926 -1940".

While "Goodbye To All That" is Graves' own autobiography from his childhood and through the first WW, marriage, children jobs and up to the date of leaving his wife and children --presumably for Laura Riding, but stops at that point. This biography is most intriguing, strange, peculiar recounting of Robert's affair and living with Laura Riding (Riding is the subject of his book "The White Goddess").

The book jacket cover of the biography reads:
"Robert Graves was married with four children when he met Laura Riding and began their intense and contradictory love affair. It was while he was with her that Graves produced much of his best work, including "I Claudius" and "Collected Poems" (1938), which contain some of the finest English love poetry written in [that] century.

With Nancy Nicholson, Graves's first wife, the couple lived ina menage-a-trois which, with the arrival of Geoffrey Phibbs, became a menage-a-quatre..."

And quite a "life's story" it is to be sure. One of my favorite "book" moments being when this Diva Par Excellence, Laura Riding, throws herself out of an upper story window in some "hissy-fit" of attention getting and breaks several vertebrae in her back. "Astounding" just about covers it as a description of Graves's life and relationship with Riding.

All these books are worth a look: "Wife to Mr. Milton." if you can deal with historical fiction and you're at all interested in Milton - from Robert Graves' perspective anyway; "Goodbye To All That" and "Robert Graves; The Years with Laura Riding - 1926 -1940" about Graves himself in these bios. Graves (who always wished or preferred to be know for his poetry instead of his novels or other writings) is one of my all time favorite authors, I would have taken "All" his stuff on that desert island, but I'd already chosen a couple of "series" or collections, and it wouldn't do to "cheat too much."

(As a piece of Trivia, and I KNOW Len likes his Trivia -- the title of "Goodbye To All That" is so well known and was a huge best seller of its day, that those four words have become a famous quote listed in "Bartlett Familiar Quotations". )

Karen on 03.16.05 @ 05:57 AM CST

[ | ]

March 2005

Archives of Blogger site
Archives: May '04-Feb '05
Archives: Feb-March '05

Powered by gm-rss

Len's sidebar:
About Len (The uncondensed version)
Memorial to a dear friend
Frederick W. Benteen
The Web of Leonards
The St. Louis Cardinals
The Memphis Redbirds
The St. Louis Browns
The Birdwatch
Hey! Spring of Trivia Blog
BlogMemphis (The Commercial Appeal's listing of Memphis blogs)
The Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything
George Dubya Bush Blows
Kraftwerk: Chicago, 6/4/2005
My Chicago: Part One
My Chicago, Part Two
Millennium Park
Miscellaneous Chicago
Busch Stadium Tour and BoSox/Cards Game: 6/6/2005
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum

Len's extended blogroll:

Brock's Sidebar:
About Brock
The Agitator
Boing Boing
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
The Decembrist
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Flypaper Theory
Heretical Ideas
John and Belle Have a Blog
Jon Rowe
Julie Saltman
The Language Guy
Literal Minded
Marginal Revolution
Matthew Yglesias
Oliver Willis
Orin Kerr
Political Animal
Positive Liberty
Signifying Nothing
Unqualified Offerings

Karen's Sidebar
About Karen
The Ig-Nobel Prizes
The Annals of Improbable Research
The Darwin Awards
EBaums World
Real Clear Politics
U.S. News Wire
Foreign Affairs
The Capitol Steps
Legal Affairs
Nobel Laureates for Change
Program On International Policy
Law of War
Sunday Times
Media Matters
Is That Legal?
Andrew Sullivan
Literal Minded
Jon Rowe
Freespace Blog
Thought Not
Publius Pundit
Blog Maverick
Rosenberg Blog
Crooked Timber

The Rocky Top Brigade:

Rocky Top Brigade Sampler

A New Memphis Mafia

The liberal alternative to Drudge.

Get Firefox!

The Rebel Alliance of Yankee Haters
Blue Squadron (NL)
Babalu (Marlins)
Leaning Toward the Dark Side (Mets)
Ramblings' Journal (Cubs)
Mediocre Fred (Brewers)
Len Cleavelin (Cardinals)
Red Squadron (AL)
Obscurorama (Red Sox)
Frinklin Speaks (Mariners)
Steve Silver (Twins)
Steve the Llama Butcher (Red Sox)
Rob the Llama Butcher (Rangers)
MoatesArt (Red Sox)
Rammer (Tigers)
JawsBlog (Indians)
Ubi Libertas (Blue Jays)
Oldsmoblogger (Indians)
Mass Backwards (Red Sox)
Industrial Blog
Cry Freedom

How many visitors are here:

Blogrings/Blog indexes/Blog search:
« ? Verbosity # »

Listed on Blogwise
Blogarama - The Blog Directory
Popdex Citations
Blog Search Engine

Greymatter Forums Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com
template by linear