Book Club Selection One: King Jesus by Robert Graves -

Underestimated Nutria

kiwifarms.net
It was going to be "Pale Fire" but I had to decide against it because (i) all the electronic editions are formatted abominably (ii) the text requires constant flipping from front to back as one reverts between the poem and the remaining text and (iii) it is probably too daunting for a first selection.

Robert Graves is a very good writer whose works, "I, Claudius" and autobiographical "Goodbye to All That" you may be familiar with. Both are extremely good. However, I have never read his story of a mortal Jesus (being the son of King Herod), which is apparently a good enough novel that it is just one of the two Graves selections in Bloom's Western Canon (fascinatingly, neither his better known works I, Claudius nor Goodbye made the list).

I attach copies in both mobi and epub formats.

We will try to read eight chapters a week in order to finish in a month. We'll officially start on the 12th of September, so in order to keep up with the conversation, please have read the first eight by the 19th.

Please just confirm that you're reading! I hope this selection is good for you guys, we'll try to be very democratic in terms of giving every member an opportunity to make a selection from the list.
 

Attachments

Irwin M. Felcher

immediate regret
kiwifarms.net
I've been wanting to get started reading regularly again for years now; maybe this'll finally shift my ass into something resembling a gear. In any event, seems like a real interesting story.
 

The Old Lurker

My father and the dragon laughed themselves weak.
kiwifarms.net
I've always wanted to be part of a book club so I'd like to give it a go.
I'm pretty busy with school and work, but I usually read in my downtime on the job anyway so keeping up shouldn't be too much of a problem.
 

Underestimated Nutria

kiwifarms.net
Great to have you guys!

Anyway, I've started the first chapter, which is a bit challenging in certain respects. I think it gets much easier from here though. You will probably need to Google a fair bit to get the references (I think I will put up a list here in a couple days to make it easier) as well as be familiar with Graves' obsession with the idea of the "White Goddess":


The ideas in here are fascinating, though, like how his narrator sees a precursor for the Christian trinity hundreds of years earlier in Judaism, and so on.
 

Underestimated Nutria

kiwifarms.net
I've downloaded the book I'll probably start reading later tonight it'll be nice to have some conservation
I'm looking forward to discussing it with you. Please don't be put off by the abstrusity (is that a word?) of the novel's beginning, or its heavy references to Graves' own pet project, the White Goddess (which I advise you to read about on Wikipedia so that you aren't utterly confused). I've read enough of Graves to trust him that he truly knows what he's doing; not to mention, that I trust Harold Bloom to be sufficiently acute and independent a critic to only put it on the list if it deserves to be there.

P.S. those who haven't read Goodbye to All That, Graves' autobiography that is particularly heavy on the first world war, are strongly urged to do so. It is one of the very best books I've ever read. I, Claudius is great, too. I'm rereading it now in a foreign language (I like to learn new languages by reading parallel texts, ask me about this if you want to learn how to do it) and as before am fascinated by the character of Livia, Augustus' wife, who is so three dimensional and wonderful that I swear she's more real than a lot of the people I walk by every day. I don't know why I'm so attracted to Livia, most readers of the book don't see much significance in her really; but to me, she's one of the greatest characters ever.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: Postal_Rat

Postal_Rat

Digging through trash, Reading your mail
kiwifarms.net
I'm looking forward to discussing it with you. Please don't be put off by the abstrusity (is that a word?) of the novel's beginning, or its heavy references to Graves' own pet project, the White Goddess (which I advise you to read about on Wikipedia so that you aren't utterly confused). I've read enough of Graves to trust him that he truly knows what he's doing; not to mention, that I trust Harold Bloom to be sufficiently acute and independent a critic to only put it on the list if it deserves to be there.
I'm not remotely put off, I actually find it very interesting I've already finished the Wikipedia article for white goddess and the first chapter. I grew up having the new testament imprinted on the back of my eyelids so I would count the first chapter as a game of spot the differences between narratives and I've always enjoyed reading about religions real and fictional as far as I'm concerned I'm home.
 

Underestimated Nutria

kiwifarms.net
I'm not remotely put off, I actually find it very interesting I've already finished the Wikipedia article for white goddess and the first chapter. I grew up having the new testament imprinted on the back of my eyelids so I would count the first chapter as a game of spot the differences between narratives and I've always enjoyed reading about religions real and fictional as far as I'm concerned I'm home.
Awesome. If you feel like it, maybe write a couple paragraphs to summarise the first chapter and draw the reader's attention to allusions, references or other things that are easily missed or misunderstood. Otherwise, I'll do so myself in a couple days. Glad that you've joined us, anyway.
 

TalmudSperg

New Zealander & Agriculturalist
kiwifarms.net
"White Goddess" influenced my approach to writing poetry like nothing except my muse,
and "Greek Myths" are a novel approach to the subject i've never seen before or since.

The god who kills his son, and the king who kills his son was important to graves, and also frazer. This comes up in "golden bough"
 
Last edited:

Postal_Rat

Digging through trash, Reading your mail
kiwifarms.net
I am admittedly having a hard time summarizing. It kind of already feels like a summary, a catalog of important differences between the christian faith as commonly interpreted and what the author interprets through the mouthpiece of a roman scholar as well as some important facts.
We open with a discussion about the difference between Chrestian and Christian it strikes me that they are more or less synonyms with different implications Chrestian being more humble and less likely to draw the ire of the Romans. For most of the things In this chapter I can immediately grasp why they're important why this is supposed to be eludes me.

He also paints a less smooth transition from jew to christian than the popular Depiction, as well as making some convincing arguments about Jesus being friendlier to the Pharisees than is typically shown. With him being hostile to only a few in their number. One of the more obscure arguments he uses is quoting Jesus stating that the pharisees "are upright and not in need of a physician".

Notably Jesus did say that in the new testament after a few of them asked Jesus why he is eating with tax collectors and sinners, and he replies "the healthy don't need a doctor" I always read that bit as backhanded but maybe he was being sincere. The scholar guy goes further to state that in some ways the new faith is picking up where they left off.

Among some of the notable points in the chapter is that there are no priestesses's in Judaism and that femininity has been demoted from Jewish spiritual practices going from a thing exalted to demonized. He details how Jehovah ate quite a few other gods in the olden days before divorcing his feminine counterparts who were members of the OG holy trinity.

He brings up a superstition that the Jews are so miserable as a people because the triple moon goddess was less than fine with this but contrasts this with the idea that dumping femininity was a survival tactic to avoid getting swept up in female troubles. He however states he's not sure how well this worked out. It is however stated that the Jews have had trouble enforcing this no girls allowed approach since forever. Jesus notably is continuing in this being the obedient Adam who will not give into the temptations of a woman.

Of special note to me is when he is comparing Communion to the rites of Dionysus and how it is peculiar that Christians do not view it as Idolatry

There's a lot other important things I don't know how to express or place and I'll probably come back to them for now but I leave this for others

Edit 2: Also the roman guy brings up the fact that in this novel Jesus is the son of Herod and the nativity didn't happen as written except in a sort of poetic sense. He compares Herod to a god who kills his child. Me leaving this out of my summary the first time through is making me really question my mental state given that this is the most important thing in there.
I also didn't find a lot of obscure things the author doesn't explain himself but that might just be me having a hard time seeing it from others perspective
Edit: cleaned up a bit
Edit 3: cleaned up again apparently English is my second language I have no idea what my first is
 
Last edited:

Underestimated Nutria

kiwifarms.net
"White Goddess" influenced my approach to writing poetry like nothing except my muse,
and "Greek Myths" are a novel approach to the subject i've never seen before or since.

The god who kills his son, and the king who kills his son was important to graves, and also frazer. This comes up in "golden bough"
I swear as soon as you mentioned " ... kills his son", I was about to ask you if you've read the Golden Bough. Come to think of it, it's time for me to reread it, since I remember it being awesome.

I am admittedly having a hard time summarizing it kind of already feels like a summary, a catalog of important difference between the christian faith as commonly interpreted and what the author interprets through the mouthpiece of a roman scholar as well as some important facts.
We open with a discussion about the difference between Chrestian and Christian it strike me that they are more less synonyms with different implications Chrestian being more humble and less likely to draw the ire of the Romans. For most of the things In this chapter I can immediately grasp why they're important this why is supposed to be eludes me.

He also paints a less smooth transition from jew to christian than the popular Depiction. As well as making some convincing arguments about Jesus being friendlier to the pharisees than he is typically shown, being more or less hostile to only a few in their number. One of the more obscure arguments he uses is quoting Jesus stating that the pharisees"are upright and not in need of a physician". Notably Jesus did say that in the new testament after a few of them asked Jesus why he is eating with tax collectors and sinners and he replies "the healthy don't need a doctor" I always read that bit as backhanded but maybe he was being sincere. He Goes further to state that in some ways the new faith is picking up where they left off.

Among some of the notable points in the chapter is that there are no priestess in Judaism and that femininity has been demoted from Jewish spiritual practices going from a thing exalted to demonized. He details how Jehovah ate quite a few other gods in the olden days before divorcing his feminine counterparts who were members of the OG holy trinity. He brings up a superstition that the Jews are so miserable as a people because the triple moon goddess was less than fine with this but contrasts this with the idea that dumping femininity was a survival tactic to avoid getting swept up in female troubles he however states he's not sure how well this worked out. It is however stated that the Jews have had trouble enforcing this no girls allowed approach since forever notably Jesus is continuing in this being the obedient Adam who will not give into the temptations of a woman.

Of special note to me when he compares practices is comparing Communion to the rites of Dionysus and how it is peculiar that Christians do not view it is Idolatry

There's a lot other important things I don't know how to express or place and I'll probably come back to them for now but I leave this for others

Edit: Also the roman guy brings up the fact that in this novel Jesus is the sun of Herod and the nativity didn't happen as written. he compares Herod to a god who kills his child. me leaving this out of my summary the first time through is making me really question my mental state Given that this is the most important thing in there.
I also didn't find a lot of obscure things the author doesn't explain himself but that might just be me having a hard to seeing it from others perspective
Edit cleaned up a bit
Thank you so much. You make some good and quite original points, so I hardly need to tell you how much your contributions are valued. I will make a substantive contribution soon, I promise.

Everyone else: thoughts?
 

Someone in a Tree

It's the ripple, not the sea that is happening
kiwifarms.net
I’m one of those insufferable dipshits that need a physical copy. I might be able to secure a copy tomorrow. If not, I’ll make a go with the .pdf in this thread.
 

Someone in a Tree

It's the ripple, not the sea that is happening
kiwifarms.net
I started late, only having read three chapters thus far, but I’ll be caught up by the 19th. And thank you, @Underestimated Nutria for the head’s up about the early info dump, for lack of a better term. Had I not been warned of it, and the promise that things would be clearer after the first chapter, I probably wouldn’t have kept moving forward. I read I, Claudius about eight years ago and loved it. Had I followed up with this one shortly thereafter, I most likely would have been disappointed, expecting the wonderful voice that told I, Claudius, but applied to Christ. I’m not well versed enough to catch most of the references being made by Graves, nor am I interested enough in religious history to really care when faced with an enormous digression. I do think that the following two chapters also have a tendency to be digressive in places, but since they are being applied in harmony with a clearer narrative, it’s been easier for me to stay engaged. It’s also rekindling my long put off interest to read The Last Temptation of Christ.
 

goatkafka

kiwifarms.net
Started late but definitely interested in this. I also strongly third the Golden Bough recommendation - it's a quality book in itself, but where it comes into it's own is the amount of background it provides for a lot of books that draw on mythology.

as before am fascinated by the character of Livia, Augustus' wife, who is so three dimensional and wonderful that I swear she's more real than a lot of the people I walk by every day. I don't know why I'm so attracted to Livia, most readers of the book don't see much significance in her really; but to me, she's one of the greatest characters ever.
I can't say in the book as of yet obviously, but the real Livia was one of the most fascinating figures in Rome. I think she doesn't get much interest because a) she's written off as an evil bastard (which is not actually true) and b) she was significantly less prominent towards the end of her life in her role as Tiberius's mother rather than Augustus's wife since Tiberius was not a fan.
 

Postal_Rat

Digging through trash, Reading your mail
kiwifarms.net
well I've finished all eight chapters turns out I was wrong about one thing in my first chapter summary
Turns out jesus isn't herods kid but his grandkid
I'll probably do a more substantive right up of my impressions later
 

Underestimated Nutria

kiwifarms.net
Forgive me guys, I'm going to post soon. I've been rather preoccupied.

Thank you so much for keeping this going.

Started late but definitely interested in this. I also strongly third the Golden Bough recommendation - it's a quality book in itself, but where it comes into it's own is the amount of background it provides for a lot of books that draw on mythology.



I can't say in the book as of yet obviously, but the real Livia was one of the most fascinating figures in Rome. I think she doesn't get much interest because a) she's written off as an evil bastard (which is not actually true) and b) she was significantly less prominent towards the end of her life in her role as Tiberius's mother rather than Augustus's wife since Tiberius was not a fan.
Read I, Claudius, please. I know Graves' interpretation of Claudia is probably extremely idiosyncratic, but that book made me love that wicked, wonderful old lady.
 

Postal_Rat

Digging through trash, Reading your mail
kiwifarms.net
Well the day has come when we all should have read eight chapters and I've got a hot cup of coffee
Time to stop procrastinating

So far my one of my favorite themes is the natural masquerading as supernatural.
How the symbolism is shown as entirely as the work of human hands and minds but no less profound.

I particularly enjoyed how the story of Jacob and Esau is used in many ways namely as the original interpretation and to show how Jehova the moon god usurped the power of the sun god. It seems like the author was trying to get maximum mileage out of this using a bit of levitical law to turn this into an account of not simply how Jacob stole Esau's inheritance both physical and spiritual, but to also make it predictive of the return of Israel to Canaanites who are due what was stolen from them four fold.

In the second chapter we cut to the temple where lots are being cast for who is going to weave what bits for the curtain of the holy of holies the most sacred place in the temple where only the most qualified priest enter to make sure everything is dandy.

The first two lots go to Mary creating much jealousy and mumblings as she has both been selected to weave the purple thread representative of royalty. as well as the red thread representative both of harlots and if I am reading this right also of the canaanites.

In chapter three we go back in time to focus on Joachim who despite having had three wives and several concubines has failed to conceive a single child this notably is becoming a bit of an embarrassment for him, notably getting him kicked to the back of the line when it comes to give offerings at the temple.

He soon hears of the most convenient prophecy ever that if he takes a long hard trip to the middle of nowhere on foot eating only locusts he will soon father a child.
While he is traveling he spends the night with a bunch of canaanites who he has extensive business dealing with. A woman playing a lyre also makes a convenient prophecy that he's going to give them a well he won in a recent legal dispute and that he's going to have a kid as well. She also brings up the fact that he is in the thirty-fifth day of his journey. Needless to say he is thrilled at the news.

He is However wary of her pagan beliefs and makes inquiries about the lyre she claims speaks to her hoping that it was produced in a kosher manner, It isn't. While he still believes the her prophecy is legitimate and promises them the well on its fulfillment. He is wary that he is engaging in paganism and to ease his conscious pledges the child to the Temple.
Afterwards the Canaanites make some very wrong-think prophecy about the land soon being theirs again which he does his best to ignore because he is just that sold on this prophecy.

We cut to Mary's mom Hannah as she converses with her handmaid Judith as they talk about the true meaning of the tree bits they are carrying and how it dates back to Eve seducing Adam. Afterwards They make a run through of how many things Hannah has tried to get pregnant notably buying quinces all the way through greece.

Judith manipulates Hannah into getting dolled up and going to a Jebusite neighborhood that ultimately ends with her being seduced/date raped and convinced that here outing was nothing more than a dream promising an end to her being childless.

She of course conceives and there is much rejoicing

It is at this point I can't keep straight what happened in what chapter and I am tired of summarizing any way. So I'm just going to talk about plot points and what I've enjoyed about them in the remaining five chapters

So far I have immensely enjoyed is Herod who is frankly the most magnificent asshole imaginable. He's completely amoral, egotistical, delusional sociopath who proves that even if your a king you can still have delusions of grandeur. I find the chapter where in Joachim learns of Herod's recent schemes an absolute delight. I particularly love how far he goes to have people who have broken into the homes of edomites on holy days exiled.

Notably it is pointed out that Herod could have had them stoned much more easily. I Believe the reason he goes the extra mile is that in Judaism being exiled is considered the worst fate you can receive, So much so that buying Jews out of foreign slavery is a duty above taking care of widows and other unfortunates.

I also loved how far he went to have his first two sons killed literally planning it since the day of their birth as he wanted to utterly annihilate the Maccabee's the dynasty ruling before hand. Who what's his face and his brother are descended from matrinally. We soon learn however that Herod is aiming higher than historical immortality and believes he not only can obtain physical immortality but also godhood.

I'm going to take a break here and leave this here for now also I can't get the preview function to work so god I hope this formatted correctly

Edit format improvements
 
Last edited:
Tags
None

About Us

The Kiwi Farms is about eccentric individuals and communities on the Internet. We call them lolcows because they can be milked for amusement or laughs. Our community is bizarrely diverse and spectators are encouraged to join the discussion.

We do not place intrusive ads, host malware, sell data, or run crypto miners with your browser. If you experience these things, you have a virus. If your malware system says otherwise, it is faulty.

Supporting the Forum

How to Help

The Kiwi Farms is constantly attacked by insane people and very expensive to run. It would not be here without community support.

BTC: 1DgS5RfHw7xA82Yxa5BtgZL65ngwSk6bmm
ETH: 0xc1071c60Ae27C8CC3c834E11289205f8F9C78CA5
BAT: 0xc1071c60Ae27C8CC3c834E11289205f8F9C78CA5
LTC: LSZsFCLUreXAZ9oyc9JRUiRwbhkLCsFi4q
XMR: 438fUMciiahbYemDyww6afT1atgqK3tSTX25SEmYknpmenTR6wvXDMeco1ThX2E8gBQgm9eKd1KAtEQvKzNMFrmjJJpiino