Robert Graves' historical fiction - I, Claudius etc.

gdoc

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Just found this section, so thought I'd post :)

Are there any other fans of Robert Graves' historical fiction? I, Claudius and Claudius the God being the two most famous. Although my personal favourite is Count Belisarius, set in the later Roman Empire.

As an aside, aspiring writers would do well to read Count Belisarius as a manual on how to create a world; Graves' ability to immerse us fully in what is essentially an alien world is superb.
 

gdoc

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It was definitely my favourite, although I loved the Claudius books.
 

gdoc

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Should have added, I tried a few of his others. King Jesus and Seven Days in New Crete. They were pretty hard going. Even the Golden Fleece was turgid in places.
 

paranoid marvin

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I read the Claudius books after watching and enjoying the tv series (which is also very good). Claudius is made out to be a very sympathetic figure when in actual fact he wasn't that much worse than his fellow emperors. Tbh I haven't read any of the rest of Graves' work, but those two novels are immensely enjoyable.
 

gdoc

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There is certainly some criticism of Graves' portrayal of Claudius. But I loved how well he brought him to life. He was very human, and he did a superb job of peering behind the stammer to portray an intelligent if slightly bumbling man.
 

paranoid marvin

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There is certainly some criticism of Graves' portrayal of Claudius. But I loved how well he brought him to life. He was very human, and he did a superb job of peering behind the stammer to portray an intelligent if slightly bumbling man.

I agree, and Derek Jacobi did a great job of the character on tv (along with a beardless Blessed as Augustus!). I always had a soft spot for Claudius until I found out the truth about the real emperor many years later.
 

Extollager

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C. S. Lewis said, in a letter, that he read I, Claudius on summer journeys, "quite interesting, but so close to Tacitus and Suetonius that perhaps he doesn't deserve very much credit for it." There's an anecdote that goes something like this: Graves was in Oxford to give a poetry lecture and was accompanied by actress Ava Gardner. He introduced Tolkien and Gardner to one another and was much amused that obviously neither had any idea who the other was.
images

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Letter_267
 

Ray McCarthy

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The only Graves I have is
"An ancient Castle"
I need to read it again as I have forgotten it. Coincidently visible on the bookshelves as I type.
Somehow the blurb reminds me of an E.Nesbit book I forget the title of. A house with hidden treasure and statues that come to life.

But I did read my dad's copy of "Goodbye to all that" long ago
 

MWagner

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The Isles of Unwisdom is excellent. It's the account of a catastrophic Spanish expedition to the Phillipines in the age of sail. Intrigue, betrayal, hubris, folly, starvation, mutiny. If you've ever seen the film Aguirre, the Wrath of God, imagine that on a bigger scale where the unforgiving environment is the Pacific Ocean and islands instead of the jungles of Peru.
 

BAYLOR

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I read this a long time a got. Magnificent read. (y)
 

Anne Spackman

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I watched the mini-series of I, Claudius and then got the book. For some reason, I was reading some of it, and then had to move apartments and didn't get back to it. I think perhaps I lost my copy in my move, and then I got distracted and forgot to ever finish it. This thread reminds me that this book was one I really liked the idea of reading, and I need to acquire another copy. I never read Count Belisarius, but it also sounds interesting.
 
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I read I, Claudius very recently. I enjoyed it, although I'm not sure whether I enjoyed it significantly more than Seven Days in New Crete, which I read about a year ago.

The TV series is saved as one to watch in our Netflix list, just as soon as we've finished a Colditz boxed set I can persuade Mrs. Burton that it's worth a look. I vaguely remember it being on the box when I was a kid, but don't recall much of it.
 

2DaveWixon

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I agree, and Derek Jacobi did a great job of the character on tv (along with a beardless Blessed as Augustus!). I always had a soft spot for Claudius until I found out the truth about the real emperor many years later.

Yes, you perfectly mirror my own feelings -- I'd never heard of Graves, many years ago, until I stumbled on the BBC series as it was being shown on the island of Cyprus. I was enchanted by it!
ah, it took years, but eventually the truth found me...
I'm no longer keen on having Claudius as a friend, but I put Jacobi high on my list of favorite actors.

Dave Wixon
 

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