“The place where I was living in 1929,” Robert Graves told an acquaintance in a skittish letter of the late Fifties, “was known as Free Love Corner.” But there wasn’t much love (in any of that word’s normally accepted senses) in evidence in the situation that began to develop in the vicinity of 19A St. Peter’s Square in spring 1929; and no freedom at all.

The affair, once notorious, is not completely explicable. It is unlikely that it could be, for it involves such enigmatic, trivial, and diverse factors as a relationship thought of by the participants as “the Four,” an almost fatal descent from a fourth-story window, another dangerous one from a third, the question of whose books really belong to whom, the break-up of a marriage, the issue of a writ, the rejection of England as a dwelling-place—and a...

 

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