By Derek Stanford
THE CROWNING PRIVILEGE, by Robert Graves (Cassell, 15s.).
PREJUDICE can be irritating: it can also prove a tonic. Mr. Graves' lavish and boisterous employment of il in the Clark Lectures 1954-55. delivered at Cambridge. stimulates the reader by its capricious strength.
Mr. Graves makes no nice distinction between temperamental preference and objective judgment. Donne, Pope, Yeats, Eliot, Pound, and Auden-figures of fashion from the past and the presentall go down before his demon bowling.
The clatter and confusion of their fall is in vigorous contrast to the safe and sycophantic treatment of these eminent names. Mr. Graves gives us excellent entertainment. but sometimes forgets that his task is criticism.
The theme of his lectures is the autonomous tradition of the British poet, and his responsibility for what he writes to the Muse alone. This notion of independence Mr. Graves traces from early bardic composition, and his facts are often refreshingly new. Of course, his point of view can be challenged.
The volume contains ten additional papers and sixteen poems unpublished in book form.