"A GAME TO PLAY APART/ WHEN ALL BUT CRUSHED WITH CARE": ROBERT GRAVES' WHIPPERGINNY, 1923 FIRST EDITION
GRAVES, Robert. Whipperginny. London: William Heinemann, (1923). Small octavo, original patterned boards, printed paper spine and cover labels, original dust jacket. $700.
First edition of this collection of poems, "haunted by horrors, guilt and nervous breakdown," in scarce original dust jacket.
Whipperginny is Graves' seventh volume of verse. "Graves' hopes for popular success as a poet faded after the poor reception given in 1920 to Country Sentiment… while in 1921 Nancy's efforts to earn money by running a shop on Boar's Hill also ended in failure. In addition, between 1919 and 1924 Nancy gave birth to four children in under five years; while Graves (now an atheist like his wife) suffered from recurring bouts of shell-shock" (ODNB). "By the time of Whipperginny the poetry was becoming difficult, haunted by horrors, guilt and nervous breakdown. In 'A Fight to the Death' two blind men fight guided by sound and touch. The quarrel over which one some woman smiled at. This poetry is cleaner in diction, more up-to-date in tone. There is a stiffening of thought. The claims to disillusionment appear the result of personal experience reflected in thought" (King, Robert Graves, 67). "Rivers taught Graves to see that shell-shock gave him special powers to draw on as a poet. In Rivers' view, the neurasthenic state which he had tried to suppress was his most potent creative source. Pain was the key. The cure was to write out of his unconscious and then use the poems to examine the state of his mind" (Seymour, Robert Graves: Life on the Edge, 106). Higginson A8.
Book near-fine, scarce unrestored dust jacket with small tape reinforcement on verso at head of sunned spine, small chip to foot affecting publisher's name, very good.