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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great piece of research but not necessarily a succesful novel
In King Jesus, Graves returns to the genre of historical fiction that he had mined so effectively with the Claudius novels and Count Belisarius and writes a near contemporaneous companion to the former. There are immediate similarities to his other novels in that he takes a fairly radical, revisionist approach to an historical figure. In this instance, he posits that...
Published 20 months ago by TWBlount

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1.0 out of 5 stars Graves let himself down with this one
I am a massive Robert Graves fan, I have read lots of his books, but this one is awful. I can see what he has tried to do - he has attempted to write in the style of an old fashioned gospel, but this creates an unreadable mess of a book. If you enjoyed I, Claudius, Claudius the God, Count Belisarius or Goodbye to All That - then really give this a miss, you will only be...
Published on 5 Mar. 2013 by J Dorleac


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great piece of research but not necessarily a succesful novel, 15 July 2013
By 
TWBlount (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: King Jesus (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
In King Jesus, Graves returns to the genre of historical fiction that he had mined so effectively with the Claudius novels and Count Belisarius and writes a near contemporaneous companion to the former. There are immediate similarities to his other novels in that he takes a fairly radical, revisionist approach to an historical figure. In this instance, he posits that Jesus was not only the spiritual King of the Jews but also the heir to the Herodic throne, consequentially the familiar story of the New Testament plays out through a largely political prism, with many of the miracles explained through metaphor, slander or Gentile propaganda.

There are, however, differences from the other historical recreations. Graves' writes in a purposefully archaic approach, evoking the Tyndale translations of the Gospels. This particular medium makes the novel dense with information and undertakes long, meandering tangents that only eventually integrate with the core plot. The result of this is a somewhat disjointed book with characters that are difficult to empathise with, not least the prophetic Jesus who is steeped in Judaic law and theology.

Further compounding the challenge is the sheer volume of research evident on every page. Graves' command of 1st Century religious minutiae is breath taking but this does not make it easy for the reader less steeped in the subject. The difficulty is compounded by Graves' use of his own White Goddess philosophy to help fill in the gaps left by the passing of two millennia.

King Jesus is a bit of an oddity; as much an intellectual exercise in historical research and hypothesis as it is a novel. Clearly huge passion and reams of research have gone into constructing it, making it an interesting but fairly challenging book to read. It speaks well of Graves' talent that he can make so much relatively obscure lore readable to the non-specialist. The stuttering plot and abstruse characters, however, whilst bound up in Graves' intention for the book, also make it peculiarly unfulfilling as a narrative experience.

Toward the end, the dramatic tension certainly increases but whether this is enough depends on your tolerance for Canaanites, Pharisees and tangential dips into Hebrewic history, myth and scripture. The book is undoubtedly an intellectual triumph but as a novel, its success will depend on your interest in theology and existing emotional relationship with the Christian story.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Graves let himself down with this one, 5 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: King Jesus (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I am a massive Robert Graves fan, I have read lots of his books, but this one is awful. I can see what he has tried to do - he has attempted to write in the style of an old fashioned gospel, but this creates an unreadable mess of a book. If you enjoyed I, Claudius, Claudius the God, Count Belisarius or Goodbye to All That - then really give this a miss, you will only be bitterly disappointed. I imagine he wrote this either under contractual pressure, or as a precursor to the Nazarene Gospel restored.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Long live the Gospels of Robert Graves, 3 Oct. 2013
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Again, It's a book I read years ago, but reading it on a Kindle, with its thesaurus, dictionary and access to Wikipedia, has been a wonderful revelation. It puts the Gospels into perspective. An interesting and wonderful read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Graves at his best, 1 Mar. 2013
By 
S. Pollard "spollardo" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: King Jesus (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I, Claudius, Claudius the God and Count Belisarius are among my favourite books, so I was delighted to learn that Robert Graves had written other historical novels. Having had a Catholic upbringing (I have now lapsed, like many), I thought I would buy King Jesus.

In the aforementioned three novels, Graves hits a sweet spot between scholarly research and narrative drive. I felt that Claudius and Belisarius were real men, but also characters in a work of fiction. Graves's beautiful, unfussy, intelligent style was perfect for the treatment of these 2,000-year-old personages.

I don't know whether he was spooked because he would be accused of heresy or because Jesus is idolised in a way that Roman emperors and generals clearly are not, but he misses the sweet spot dreadfully in King Jesus in my opinion. It's more like a badly timed hook which he top edges towards the slips. He seems obsessed with proving the authenticity of his credentials in writing what he was written which means long passages of turgid genealogies, tangents on what particular line of ancient near eastern civilisations holds the greatest right to the throne of Israel, and interpretations of what some biblical patriarch meant when he said what he said. When he does come back to the main story, he is Graves at his best, evoking a culture and time with brilliant clarity. Sadly, just when you're thinking "good lad Gravesy, this is the stuff", he lapses into another doldrum of theological musing. Basically, it's boring. In fact as boring as sitting in church was when I was a young boy.

If you're interested - and I mean REALLY interested, not just passingly interested as I am - in theology, or if you're an open-minded but fully signed-up Christian, or if you enjoy a work which is very different, simply because it is very different, or if you are an insomniac who has been failed by Temazepam and want something to gently encourage those nightly slumbers, then I would encourage you to buy this book.

If you've not read Graves before, or read Goodbye To All That and want to explore his novels, go to I, Claudius (or Count Belisarius).
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts on Robert Graves' "King Jesus", 15 July 2013
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I found this a fascinating work of fiction most elegantly accomplished. It seems to capture the essence of the Gospel Story while offering a novel - if outrageous - explanation. I would rate it higher, but the need to explain a lot of archaic proto-semitic history means that it has its inevitable longueurs
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars King Jesus, 16 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: King Jesus (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is a big book therefore the print is small otherwise it would be a bit big for paperback, that's my only complaint! It arrived on time well packed, very good condition, would expect nothing less.
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King Jesus (Penguin Modern Classics)
King Jesus (Penguin Modern Classics) by Robert Graves (Paperback - 1 Dec. 2011)
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