What is Robert Graves doing, you might ask, in a book about rowdy teen boys? His presence is pervasive from the very first chapter, when the mysterious and beautiful new geography teacher, Aurelie, talks to Howard the Coward about how to get his history students engaged with the First World War:
"You should read them Robert Graves," she says.
"He was in the trenches," she replies; then adds, after a pause, "He was also one of the great love poets."
Robert Graves (1895-1985), author of many works including I, Claudius, is perhaps most famous for his memoir, Goodbye to All That, first published in 1929 when he was 34. The memoir lays out the early traumas of life at Charterhouse, a venerable public school for boys in the South of England. Upon graduation, Graves muses with a friend about what it would take to undo the crushing "tradition" that animates the school and oppresses the boys.
Starting over with new staff and ...