‘The White Goddess’ by Simon Gough

Adrian Masters. Not the politics blog.

The White Goddess by Simon Gough

There’s a point near the end of this extraordinary novel when the poet Robert Graves is lost in obsessive rage and his accountant tells him ‘to grow up, to stop behaving like a child before it was too late, before he lost all credibility with his peers and his public.’

The accountant, however, is the only person who thinks Graves’ behaviour to be anything other than an entirely natural part of being a poet. Certainly not the author, Simon Gough, whose fictionalised autobiography this is and who, even at the age of 70 when this book was published is still clearly haunted by the events he recounts. Reading the final chapters, I longed to intervene, to shout at the young and emotionally highly-strung Gough, ‘it’s not your fault! You’re on the receiving end of a disproportionately violent temper tantrum from a man who was old enough to behave better.’

But then…

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