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YSELF AND STRANGERS otrioie ce,s spend time alone with his typewriter. Though he was eager to appropriate them for his fiction, none of these expatriates, he notes, measures up to the characters in The Sun Also Rises or Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano. They strike him, he recalls, “as having come to being nothing on Mallorca from being nothing elsewhere, during all their lives to date’ Though Graves offers pointed sketches of many of the men and women he got to know in Europe, none is as talented or memorable as were members of the Hemingway crowd. “I like living with so very many people and being all alone with english[sic] and myself,” says Stein in another passage that he quotes. But not very many of the people whom Graves encounters during his European apprenticeship match the figures who showed up at her Rue de Fleurus salon. Nor are his literary observations especially acute. Graves notes the books that he is reading, a motley medley by authors including Conrad, Smollett, Gogol, Michener, Maugham, Orwell, Waugh, and Rabelais, considered most of all for their usefulness to his own writing. About William Styron’s Lie Down in Darkness, he reports: “Only glanced through this one and don’t want to do more than that for the moment, because it would likely mess up my own work.” He is bothered when a reading of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End causes the prose of A Speckled Horse to be “heavily infected with Fordian mannerisms.” Graves admits to feeling fatigue from Thomas Wolfe and boredom from Gustave Flaubert. A journal entry for January 6, 1955, announces that Graves’ needs are simple: “a place in which to live comfortably, a good woman if any such shows up, some kind of regular exercise to this book.” Though his finances seem meager, he manages to live frugally on a modest military pension and occasional commissions for magazine articles. He reports paying $45 a month to rent a villa in Mallorca as well as buying a sloop for an undisclosed sum. As a practical matter, Graves divides his writing time according to the principle of “one for them and one for me,” alternating between work he does for hire \(such as a piece in Holiday that gets him into trouble for lambasting he does for love. By the time Graves ends his literary apprenticeship, it is hard to separate the two. He encounters Spain a little more than a decade after the conclusion of its Civil War and during Francisco Franco’s fascist regime. He notes parallels between Franco Spain and the post-bellum American South, including Texas. A descendant of Confederates, Graves suggests that the Falangist victory was a temporary denial of what Dixie’s defeat made clear, that it is futile to resist the forces of modernity. He seems to be expressing nostalgia for an Iberian Lost Cause that has not yet even been lost: “They won one fight against the new values,” he says of the Nationalists’ success against the Loyalists, “but even then they had already lost the big fight, simply by being fated to exist in a changing world.” Graves casts his blind eye at oppression under Franco. Repelled by the dogmas of both left and right and lacking the polemical genius of Swift and Milton, he is wary of politics: “If you can’t manage partisan enthusiasm and you see advantages and disadvantages in all or most of the sides, I guess what you do is shut up and try to quit thinking about the matter.” Permanently afflicted with cacoethes scribendi, “the writing disease in excelsis,” Graves cannot quit thinking about his literary calling. Thoreau left Walden Pond for as good and deliberate a reason as he went there in the first place: “Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one:’ Without explanation, Graves returns to the United States on July 20, 1955. His apprenticeship over, he abandons A Speckled Horse and undertakes the writing in and about Texasespecially Goodbye to a River, Hard Scrabble, and From a Limestone Ledgethat he feels destined to do. Reconciled to his place and time and talents, he concludes: “I was where I belonged.” Steven G. Kellman teaches comparative literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio. 6/4/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23