Arnold Felix Graves

1847-1930 [Arnold Felix Graves; “father of technical education in Ireland”]; b. Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, Nov. 1847, br. of Alfred Perceval Graves; ed. Windermere College, Wales; Trinity College, Dublin, from 1864; successful in scholarship and sport; Irish Bar, 1872-79; appt. Secretary to the Commissioners of Education for Endowed Schools; promoted technical education and home industries; organising secretary of the Dublin Artisans Exhibition, 1885; instrumental in opening of Kevin St. Technical College; issued verse, plays and novels incl. Prince Patrick (1898); also Clytæmnestra: A Tragedy (1903), which was reviewed by James Joyce in the (Dublin) Daily Express (1 Oct. 1903); 24 May; commem. plaque unveiled at Kevin St. by Noel Dempsey, Min. of Education, 2004. DIW IF

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Fiction, Prince Patrick (London: Downey & Co. 1898). Drama [trans.,] Clytæmnestra: A Tragedy, pref. by R. Tyrrell (1903); Helen of Troy (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1909), 63pp. [see infra.]

Helen of Troy (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & co. Ltd. 1909) [ded. “To My Alma Mater”; with title-verso note: ‘published in connection with its production by the Trinity College Dublin Dramatic Club. The text received such revision as possible in the short time available, but the Author hopes to be able, at some future time, to make the work less unworthy of the great subject with which it deals’; see Quotations, infra.]

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James Joyce reviewed Clytemnæstra, ending with a few lines that he marks down for their absurdity: ‘Beware! Beware! / The stone you started rolling down the hill / Will crush you if you do not change your course.’ (“Mr. Arnold Graves’ New Work”, in Daily Express [Dublin], 1 Oct. 1903; see Ellworth Mason & Richard Ellmann, eds., Critical Writings, London: Faber 1959, p.126-27.) [See full-text under Commentary, infra.]

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James Joyce, review of “Mr Arnold Graves’s New Work” - review of Clytæmnestra, a Tragedy (Dublin Daily Express, 1 Oct. 1903):

In the introduction which Dr. Tyrrell has written for Mr. Graves’s tragedy, it is pointed out that “Clytemnestra” is not a Greek play in English, like “Atalanta in Calydon”, but rather a Greek story treated from the standpoint of a modern dramatist - in other words it claims to be heard on its own merits merely, and not at all as a literary curio. To leave aside for the moment the subordinate question of language it is not easy to agree with Dr. Tyrrell’s opinion that the treatment is worthy of the subject. On the contrary there would appear to be some serious flaws in the construction. Mr. Graves has chosen to call his play after the faithless wife of Agamemnon, and to make her nominally the cardinal point of interest. Yet from the tenor of the speeches, and inasmuch as the play is almost entirely a drama of the retribution which follows crime, Orestes being the agent of Divine vengeance, it is plain that the criminal nature of the queen has not engaged Mr. Graves’s sympathies. [126]
 The play, in fact, is solved according to an ethical idea, and not according to that indifferent sympathy with certain pathological states which is so often anathematized by theologians of the street. Rules of conduct can be found in the books of moral philosophers, but “experts” alone can find them in Elizabethan comedy. Moreover, the interest is wrongly directed when Clytemnestra, who is about to imperil everything for the sake of her paramour, is represented as treating him with hardly disguised contempt, and again where Agamemnon, who is about to be murdered in his own palace by his own queen on his night of triumph, is made to behave towards his daughter Electra with a stupid harshness which is suggestive of nothing so much as of gout. Indeed, the feeblest of the five acts is the act which deals with the murder. Nor is the effect even sustained, for its second representation during Orestes’ hypnotic trance’ cannot but mar the effect of the real murder in the third act in the mind of an audience which has just caught Clytemnestra and Egisthus red-handed.
 These faults can hardly be called venial, for they occur at vital points of the artistic structure, and Mr. Graves, who might have sought to cover all with descriptive writing, has been honest enough to employ such a studiously plain language as throws every deformity into instant relief. However, there are fewer offences in the verse than in most of the verse that is written nowadays, and it is perhaps only an indication of the mental confusion incident upon seership when Tiresias, the prophet, is beard exclaiming:
                                       Beware! beware!
The stone you started rolling down the hill
Will crush you if do not change your course.

—James Joyce, Critical Writings of James Joyce, ed. Richard Ellmann & Ellsworth Mason (NY: New Directions 1966, pp.126-27.

Helen of Troy (1909) - The drama covers the fight between Hector and Achilles, and the ultimate destruction of Troy. Helen pleads her cause with Menelaus’s permission, and argues: ‘but for me you had not conquered Troy’ (p.61). Hecuba attempts to stab her when the Greeks decide that she has adequately ‘atoned for her crime’ (idem.), and Ulysses makes known that Troy will be destroyed so no ‘man-child/remain alive’ (p.63), whereupon Cassandra issues a prophecy in verse: ‘The day is yours ... If we but wait, / Though we may suffer long, / Relentless fate / Will right our bitter wrong, / For man is weak, the Gods alone are strong’ and speaks finally of ‘the reckoning day, / When blood with blood, and life with life will shall pay.’ (p.63.)

Act I [conclusion]:
Re-enter PARIS, HELEN, and the Trojan Soldiers. Deiphobos a Memnon drag Patroclus’ body in.

TROJANS: Hail! Hector, Hector, Hail! (They lay Patroclus down beside his armour).

ANDROMACHE: See, there he lies, what there is left of him, / At sight of whom whole armies took to flight, / At sound of whose loud voice great City walls / Toppled and fell, before whose mighty sword / Our soldiers sank as corn before the scythe.

HECUBA: (as she kicks the body). Lie there false Greek until our Trojan dogs / Have supped their full upon your festering flesh.

HECTOR: (Examining Patroclus’ armour). There’s not a scratch upon its glittering face. / Most marvellous! No weapon ever made / By mortal hand can pierce. I would not take / A Kingdom in exchange - Invincible! (He puts on the armour). I’ll drive these saucy Greeks into the sea / I’ll conquer Argos. I’ll subdue the world. / There’s none to stop me with Achilles dead.

PARIS: He is not dead, see there! he breathes, he moves. / His eyes are open.

HECTOR (To Patroclus): Shall I take your life / Or would you rather live as Hector’s slave?

PATROCLUS: You’ve taken it.

HECTOR: ’Tis well, for I’d be loth / To strike Achilles, when he’s in the dust. [29] PATROCLUS: You have not killed Achilles yet, no, no, / And never will.

HECTOR: Who then are you?

PATROCLUS: A scarecrow who donned Achilles’ arms to frighten you. / I’ve played my part, and now I die content.

HECTOR: Whom have I slain?

HELEN: Patroclus, captain of the Myrmidons.

HECTOR: Why then Achilles lives.

CASSANDRA: Lives to avenge Patroclus death. (Curtain.) (pp.29-30.)

See also Cassandra: With features hid / And footsteps slow, / Death shadows us unbid, / And deals the blow./ Iauoi! (End Act 2; p.42; and see further under Notes, infra.)

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Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), lists Prince Patrick (London: Downey & Co. 1898). Clytæmnestra, a trag., with pref. by R. Tyrrell (1903); also wrote a story called “Prince Patrick”. See also Irish Book Lover, Vols. 6 & 7 [Obit?]

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