Summer 1960 • Vol. XXII No. 3 Nonfiction |

The Genius of Robert Graves

You would recognize him even in a crowd. The sculptured, bronzed profile of one of those Roman emperors about whom he writes so brilliantly; the massive grace of a soldier and mountaineer who, at the age of sixty-five, moves nimbly down the rock-paths of his island to plunge into the dawn cold of the Mediterranean; the bearing of a man who has sired eight children and seventy books; who has lived by his pen and his wits in tenacious integrity and who, after years in comparative neglect, is beginning to loom over the horizon as the finest and most prolific man of letters now writing in English. His name is Robert Graves. He has given me fair warning not to attempt this essay: "I doubt whether you will get me right on any but the intellectual side; the emotional side has to be sympathized with by a few pints of Irish blood which God has (perhaps mercifully) denied you." And he has written a deft, cruel poem to "The Reader Over My Shoulder": What now, old enemy, shall you do B

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George Steiner is a fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

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