New York: Harrison Smith and Robert Hass, 1934. First Edition, First Printing. Hardcover. TEMPORARILY DISCOUNTED. WAS $3,750. NOW $1,725. A Very Good copy of the first rather scarce American edition, first printing, in the Publisher's original blue cloth and lacking the dust jacket. The binding shows some general white spotting as well three faint rings (each apparently from the bottom of a beverage glass or mug), one of which intersects the embossment portraying the work's subject. The leading corners of each board and the spine panel's top and bottom edges show some common wear, and the lettering to the spine panel has faded. The front free endpaper shows a Red Cross Stamp (the lettering of which has been struck through in blue ink), presumably showing that this copy was one of those distributed by the Red Cross during World War II. The front free endpaper has been SIGNED BY ROBERT GRAVES FOR N. S. REICHENTHAL as follows: "N. S. Reichenthal // Author, // Robert Graves" with the signature underscored. [The inscription has been amended in another hand, perhaps Reichenthal's, so that in full it reads: "property of // N.S. Reichenthal // From // Author, // Robert Graves ". Above the Red Cross stamp, in pencil from another hand, there appears: "Budd [ampersand] Rosie Stark [underscored] // 19987 Renfro Rd // Detroit Mi", and near the page's bottom right corner in blue ink there is written "Return Stark". The book's inscribee, Nathan S. Reichenthal, an Austrian Jew who had immigrated to the US in the 1880s and who, with his wife, Sarah ("Sadie") Endersheim worked in New York's garment industry and lived in one of Brooklyn's tenement apartments. His fervent socialism and his view that a person's life could be improved through both education and political activism had a strong impact on his daughter, Laura, who grew up to be a famed Poet and was first known as Laura Reichenthal and who, in 1927, changed her name to "Laura Riding and became a famed Poet. In December, 1925, she, at the invitation of Robert Graves who had admired her work in "The Fugitive", departed for England to stay with Graves, his artist-wife Nancy Nicholson, and their four children, as Graves thought that Riding would be a good companion for his wife, and a useful collaborator for him as he worked to complete a book on modern poetry while he spent several months teaching at a University in Egypt. The group immediately departed for Egypt where, according to one biographer of Graves, in Riding Graves "...had found someone of great intelligence and originality who listened with interest to his ideas, and whose head teemed with ideas of her own." Once the group returned to England, Graves an Riding developed a sexual relationship and the pair moved to an apartment in London and Graves was able to use his prominence to advance Riding's career. In 1929, Graves and Riding moved to Deya, a small town on Mallorca, a Spanish Mediterranean island an lived there until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. While there, they were supported financially by the success of "Good-bye to All That" and "I, Claudius". A Very Good Association copy of this famed historical work, SIGNED BY ROBERT GRAVES TO N. S. REICHENTHAL, THE FATHER OF HIS LOVER LAURA RIDING. RARE INDEED.
I, Claudius, historical novel by Robert Graves set in 1st-century-CE Rome, published in 1934.
The book is written as an autobiographical memoir by the Roman emperor Claudius, who is a son of a Roman general, a nephew of the emperor Tiberius, and a great-nephew of the emperor Augustus. Physically weak, afflicted with stammering, and inclined to drool, Claudius is an embarrassment to his family and is shunted to the background of imperial affairs. The benefits of his seeming ineffectuality are twofold: he becomes a scholar and historian, fascinated with the intrigues of his contemporaries, and he is spared the worst cruelties inflicted on the imperial family by its own members during the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula.
Palace intrigues and murders—including those of Claudius’s father and brother and of Augustus’s sons and grandsons—surround him. The machinations result from his family members’ lust for power, from their fear of losing power, from their jealousies, and from the innate cruelty and depravity of the insane Caligula. Livia, wife of Augustus and mother of Tiberius, is an especially imposing figure among the story’s cast of complex characters. Claudius’s informal narration serves to emphasize the banality of the imperial family’s endless greed and lust. The story concludes with Claudius’s ascent to the imperial throne. A sequel, Claudius the God (1935), covers Claudius’s years as Roman emperor. Very good. Item #3608