Thursday, April 23, 2009

10 Books A Day: #4

Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic 1895-1926...Richard Perceval Graves...Weidenfeld & Nicholson

Robert Graves: The Years With Laura Riding 1926-1940...Richard Perceval Graves...Weidenfeld & Nicholson

Robert Graves And The White Goddess 1940-1985...Richard Perceval Graves...Phoenix Giant

Collected Poems...Robert Graves...Doubleday

An Incomplete Education...Judy Jones and William Wilson...Ballantine Books

Shakespeare: The Complete Works...ed. G. B. Harrison...Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version...ed. Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger...New York Oxford University Press

A Short History Of The Early Church...Harry R. Boer...Eerdmans

Stories And Poems For Extremely Intelligent Children Of All Ages...selected by Harold Bloom...Simon & Schuster

Wampeters, Foma, & Granfalloons (Opinions)...Kurt Vonnegut, Jr....Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence

The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference...Writer's Digest Books

The Fireside Book of Children's Songs...ed. Marie Winn...Simon & Schuster

Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book...ed. Molly Rockwell...Abrams

Holy Bible, The Crusade Analytical Edition...Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc.

The World Book Dictionary A-K (1969 Edition)...Field Enterprises Educational Corporation

The World Book Dictionary L-Z (1969 Edition)...Field Enterprises Educational Corporation

What I like particularly about reading biography is the history you can pick up as you go along, history as applied personally to a real sample case. The three volume biography of Robert Graves as prepared by his nephew is extremely good, not only well researched, balanced, and if I might say so, unopinionated, but also imbued with some of the vivid genius of description and presentation of the poet and author himself. To give one example: Robert Graves believed that the American poet Laura Riding was (at least for a time) an embodiment of the White Goddess herself. Perceval Graves presents this belief merely as a fact, and does not give a judgement on whether he thinks it was true or not, or if Graves was imbalanced or merely applying a very intense metaphor to help with his writing. This is what Graves thought, and this is what happened because of it, and make of it what you will. One fact that tickles me is how Graves and his wife set up a shop in the back garden of the poet John Masefield's house after the war.

The Shakespeare was my college textbook and with its clear text and scholarly apparatus make it my preferred method of reading the Bard; the Oxford Annotated Bible is also my preferred reading copy of that book; the Crusade was one of my mother's Bibles and is a large, unwieldy, rather crudely illustrated version, although its study section has been helpful. Boer's book on the early Church and its developments is clear, scholarly, and sympathetic. The World Book Dictionary is the finest I have ever owned (if now one of the ugliest; a dog chewed the leatherette covers). We have not seen the last of either Harold Bloom or Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in these lists. An Incomplete Education was a gift to my brother Mike that has since returned to me; it is a digest or reference book on various cultural phenomenon such as music, philosophy, science and literature that gives one a quick and handy guide to be going along on. I myself confess that my grasp of opera and physics is a little shaky...


Brer said...

My favorite Robert Graves anecdote is the time he introduced Ava Gardner to J. R. R. Tolkien at some college function, and neither had any idea who the other was!

John said...

The influence of I, Claudius is incalcuable. An example of picking up real history while reading fine fiction!