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King Jesus and My Head! My Head!
Edited by Robert A. Davis
ISBN: 978 1 857546 60 6
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Published: February 2006
216 x 135 x 38 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
'I, Agabus the Decapolitan began this work at Alexandria in the ninth year of the Emperor Domitian and completed it at Rome in the thirteenth year of the same.'
This volume brings together two historical novels based upon the Bible. King Jesus is a daring rewriting of the Gospels in the light of Graves's speculations in history and mythology. His Jesus is a charismatic religious reformer dedicated to the ethical and spiritual principles of an austere Judaism and firmly opposed to the legalism of the Temple authorities, the oppressions of imperial Rome and the allure of an older matriarchal goddess cult subtly subverting his ministry. Graves's daring rewriting of the Gospels portrays Jesus as fully human, yet marked with sacred royalty, bent upon a doomed confrontation with external enemies and internal doubts that lead to a conclusion at once inevitable and unexpected.
Written in 1925, My Head! My Head! was Robert Graves's first novel - a retelling of the story of Elisha and the Shunamite woman. He amplifies the brief Old Testament story into a series of dramatic encounters between the wandering prophet and his inquisitive, quick-witted hostess, who, by skilful questioning, prizes from Elisha the secret religious history of ancient Israel and the true story of the patriarch Moses. Graves uses the extended dialogue of Elisha and Jochebed to elaborate his own unorthodox theory of the origins of primitive Judaism and the role of Moses in the eventual triumph of the cult of Jahweh over the other desert religions of the time.
Praise for Robert Graves 'There is eloquence, wit and a formal shapeliness in abundance from first to last.'
Michael Glover, Financial Times 10/02/01 'While poetry schools came and went, Graves went on writing until his death in 1985, in an elegant, classically inspired style.'
Andrew Crumey, Scotland on Sunday 07/01/01 'No one else offers his precise combination of eroticism, nightmare and epigram.'
Sean O'Brien, The Guardian 13/01/01 'Graves experiences in the trenches of the First World War are most vivid and moving.'
Robert Nye, Scotsman on Sunday, 16/12/00 'In his attitude to verse he remained a Georgian, an eccentric one.'
Eric Hester, Catholic Times 20/02/00 'Graves enshrines his archetypal motifs of obsessive love in legendary contexts from which the contemporary world is resolutely excluded.'
Mark Ford, The London Review of Books 'One of the twentieth century's major writers.'
Richard Foster, Yorkshire Evening Press Graves is a poet and a visionary in his prose writings, always stimulating and frequently enlightening.
Patrick Reilly, The Herald
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