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Robert Graves and the Classical Tradition$
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A. G. G. Gibson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198738053

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198738053.001.0001

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Restoring Narcissus

Restoring Narcissus

The Love Poems of Robert Graves

Chapter:
(p.220) (p.221) 11 Restoring Narcissus
Source:
Robert Graves and the Classical Tradition
Author(s):

John Burnside

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198738053.003.0012

The chapter reveals Graves’s idea of love, formed over a lifetime of experience. Graves’s neuroses, desires, abhorrence about love are explored in detail. Graves stripped back passion and idealism to the bare essentials, and he is open about sexual desire and emotional or irrational reactions caused by an intense relationship; his poetry is unflinching in its reflection of the experiences of love. Although his work is tinged with irony or dark humour, this potential loss of self to the beloved seemed very real for Graves. The notion of selfhood and the nature of love are explored in relation to the myth of Narcissus, and Burnside interrogates this identity and its purpose, considering the theories of Freud and Ian D. Suttie, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s notion of romantic ‘terminal perfection’; these concepts are analysed alongside Graves’s poetry.

Keywords:   Narcissus, Ian D. Suttie, Freud, Kegan Paul, F. Scott Fitzgerald, love, sexual desire, Romantic, poetry

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