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Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves

Goodbye to All That (1929)

by Robert Graves

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
As Hartley noted the past is a foreign land and Graves treads lightly. I wrote a university friend last night I had not seen in 27 years. He and the woman I loved had started a relationship and the riptide of life pushed us far apart. He's now a minister. We shall see.

Graves takes the reader by the hand from childhood through the public school and immediately t the Western Front. Each step is harrowing. Pained. Then Armistice and marriage and family. No gap years for Graves. The friendship with Sassoon appears fascinating. I will pursue that elsewhere. Graves met Ezra Pound in Oxford at the home of T.E. Lawrence who pronounced: you will dislike each other. Even more intriguing is the revenue scheme that the Graves family (Nancy Nicholson never took Graves' name for feminist reasons) started their own corner store in the lawn of a neighbor. Somehow that is more I Love Lucy than the author of The White Goddess. There's also a great encounter with Thomas Hardy. Despite these twinkling frames there's a brooding character to the overall narrative. Somehow there are subterranean vibrations of some emotional fissuring.

Most folks attend to the book because of its Great War account. The attention is deserved, though early section about the tradition of his unit is rather tedious. There is a recognition throughout the book of class--and how such favored his claim from the football pitch to teaching in Cairo in the 1920s. I had entertained thoughts of devoting this next month to Graves but the impulse has been diminished. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Graves' account of fighting in the First World War on the Western Front is what elevates this book (first published in 1929) to the rank of the classic accounts of war. Graves' account is a no-holds-barred view of the Royal Welch [sic] Fusiliers, and was probably responsible for making this book controversial in its time. The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes quotes liberally from the book, as it should. The initial section, on Graves' schooldays, is slightly less interesting, but still has a lot to recommend it. The post-war section is responsible for the loss of the 1/2 star in my rating, since it's not hugely interesting (save for one or two anecdotes about T.E. Shaw), but overall, this is still a good read. ( )
  EricCostello | Oct 22, 2018 |
Poet and novelist recounts his life from his early years through the Great War. An honest portrayal of life in the trenches. ( )
  charlie68 | May 21, 2018 |
I really liked this book. It was a joy to read, really frank and well written. I want to find more like it now. Yay for overdrive audio, too. ( )
  lydiasbooks | Jan 17, 2018 |
Robert Graves is famous today mainly for two things: this memoir of his early life, focusing on his experiences in the trenches of the First World War and his published poetry; and as the author, later in life, of the renowned historical novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God. He has an easy style in this memoir, which covers the first 33 or so years of his life until his departure from the UK to live in Majorca in 1929. His upbringing and schooling were conventional by the middle class standards of the time ("my sisters were brought up to wish themselves boys, to be shocked at the idea of woman’s suffrage, and not to expect so expensive an education as their brothers"), though for a book written nearly 90 years ago he is quite open about the homoeroticism in his independent school, Charterhouse. His wartime experiences and those of his contemporaries at Charterhouse make up the core of the book, as he says "at least one in three of my generation at school died; because they all took commissions as soon as they could, most of them in the infantry and Royal Flying Corps". Against the backdrop of the fighting and its impact on his mental state, he describes his difficult relationship with his parents, with their conventional outlook on patriotism and duty, and the hostility he sometimes faced due to his mother being German; the bonds that were formed between soldiers in the trenches and the completely inability of he and his contemporaries to find a common language with his parents and others at home, due to their vastly different experiences and assumptions about the reality of warfare. Graves knew many of the other greats of the time, in particular Siegfried Sassoon during the war, and Thomas Hardy in his old age after it. The end of the war is described very laconically, and the last section about his life after the war, getting married to Nancy and raising their four children will be of less interest to most readers. He hints at further in his life from 1926 and abruptly says that "The remainder of this story, from 1926 until today, is dramatic but unpublishable". In 1929, on publishing this memoir, he went abroad, "resolved never to make England my home again; which explains the ‘Goodbye to All That’ of this title". In his epilogue he explains a bit why this was, but this reader is left feeling a bit puzzled at the suddenness of all this. ( )
2 vote john257hopper | Nov 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Writing "Good-bye to All That," Graves seized numerous opportunities to render the literal truth of the trenches in theatrical terms. And Graves was by no means alone in this: Just before the attack at Loos, a typical officer is recorded as experiencing "a feeling of unreality, as if I were acting on a stage." Seeking theatrical metaphors for the trench war, some journalists invoked the idea of tragedy. Graves will have none of such pretentiousness: To him, events at the front are more likely to resemble melodrama, comedy, farce or music hall. Or even that once-stylish English dramatic form, the Comedy of Humors, in which stock eccentric characters ("Humors") reveal their crazy obsessions and generally muddle things up.

Robert Graves's superbly sardonic account of his childhood, schooling, the great war and his first marriage was written in just four months in 1929, when he was 33. It was his attempt at "a formal good-bye to you and to you and to you and to me and to all that". By then he had separated from his wife and was living with the American poet Laura Riding. The idea of a farewell to the past was hers.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Guardian, PD Smith

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graves, Robertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fussell, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graves, Richard PercevalEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spencer, StanleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trevelyan, RaleighIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As a proof of my readiness to accept autobiographical conventions, let me at once record my two earliest memories.
The most useful and, at the same time, most dangerous gift that I owe to my father’s side of the family – probably more to the Cheynes than to the Graves’s – is that I am always able, when dealing with officials, or getting privileges from public institutions which grudge them, to masquerade as a gentleman.
After tea we went into the garden, where Hardy asked to see some of my new poems. I fetched him one, and he wondered whether he might offer a suggestion: the phrase ‘the scent of thyme’, which occurred in it was, he said, one of the clichés which poets of his generation had studied to avoid. Could I perhaps alter it? When I replied that his contemporaries had avoided it so well that I could now use it without offence, he withdrew the objection.
Professor Edgeworth, of All Souls’, avoided conversational English, persistently using words and phrases that one expects to meet only in books. One evening, Lawrence returned from a visit to London, and Edgeworth met him at the gate. ‘Was it very caliginous in the Metropolis?’
‘Somewhat caliginous, but not altogether inspissated,’ Lawrence replied gravely.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385093306, Paperback)

The quintessential memoir of the generation of Englishmen who suffered in World War I is among the bitterest autobiographies ever written. Robert Graves's stripped-to-the-bone prose seethes with contempt for his class, his country, his military superiors, and the civilians who mindlessly cheered the carnage from the safety of home. His portrait of the stupidity and petty cruelties endemic in England's elite schools is almost as scathing as his depiction of trench warfare. Nothing could equal Graves's bone-chilling litany of meaningless death, horrific encounters with gruesomely decaying corpses, and even more appalling confrontations with the callousness and arrogance of the military command. Yet this scarifying book is consistently enthralling. Graves is a superb storyteller, and there's clearly something liberating about burning all your bridges at 34 (his age when Good-Bye to All That was first published in 1929). He conveys that feeling of exhilaration to his readers in a pell-mell rush of words that remains supremely lucid. Better known as a poet, historical novelist, and critic, Graves in this one work seems more like an English Hemingway, paring his prose to the minimum and eschewing all editorializing because it would bring him down to the level of the phrase- and war-mongers he despises. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:43 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In this autobiography, first published in 1929, poet Robert Graves traces the monumental and universal loss of innocence that occurred as a result of the First World War. Written after the war and as he was leaving his birthplace, the book bids farewell not only to England and his family and friends, but also to a way of life. Tracing his upbringing from his solidly middle-class Victorian childhood through his entry into the war at age 21 as a patriotic captain in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, this dramatic, poignant, often wry autobiography goes on to depict the horrors and disillusionment of the Great War, from life in the trenches and the loss of dear friends, to the stupidity of government bureaucracy and the absurdity of English class stratification. Paul Fussell has hailed it as "the best memoir of the First World War" and has written the introduction to this new edition.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141184590, 014104554X, 0241951410


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