MAY’S MINIATURES – S.01 E.08: Robert Graves – ‘The Shout’ (1924)

This is a fascinating source text for a 1978 film that has long bemused and delighted me in its surrealism and absurdism. I think I first saw it in around 2000 in a late-night showing on Channel Four, when I was at College. Now as certain friends might be able to tell you, I was laid-back at College, but perhaps quite not quite laid-back enough about my studies to stay up until the early hours and watch weird films. I taped Jerzy Skolimowki’s version of The Shout, and David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977) too, and watched them in early evenings after my days at the City of Sunderland College’s Bede Centre.

‘The Shout’ possesses a mythical power that engages, if in a mediated way, with anthropology and Aboriginal beliefs and customs. Its writer Robert Graves was born in Wimbledon, London in 1895. He served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers during the First World War. Friends during his life included Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, T.E. Lawrence and Spike Milligan. Graves’s autobiography detailing that war service Goodbye to All That was published in 1929. He made the island of Majorca his home that same year where he lived off and on until his death in 1985 but this was one of his ‘English Stories’, written five years earlier in 1924.

A ‘cromlech’ is a megalith or stone tomb. As you might expect from Robert Graves, writer of I, Claudius, there are echoes of the ancient world. The story’s narrator compares Crossley’s tale to the ‘Milesian’ style of erotic fiction written by the Platonist Roman scribe Lucius Apuleius. Please, listen, carefully, or I’ll shout your bloody head off!

Episode 8 was broadcast on YouTube on Tuesday 28 July 2020 here:

Subsequent thoughts and analysis to follow at a later date.

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