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Goodbye to All That (Essential Penguin 2) by…
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Goodbye to All That (Essential Penguin 2) (original 1929; edition 1999)

by Robert Graves

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Member:Martingcook
Title:Goodbye to All That (Essential Penguin 2)
Authors:Robert Graves
Info:Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (1999), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
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Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves (1929)

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
I didn't end up liking either the book or Graves himself much. Full report here: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/novelreadings/goodbye-to-robert-graves-goodbye...
  rmaitzen | Feb 7, 2014 |
It is as a document of World War One that this book really shines. Robert Graves includes a wealth of little details that bring the day-to-day life of him, and his regiment, to life: the gallows humour, the values of the soldiers, the disillusionment with the war and the staff and yet the loyalty to their officers, the lice, the food, the other privations. It's all there in this excellent memoir. Robert Graves also captures the tragedy and waste of the conflict - friends and fellow soldiers dying or getting wounded all the time. Extraordinary luck means that Robert Graves beat the odds and managed to survive but not without injuries and many brushes with death.

Goodbye to All That was written in 1929, when Robert Graves was 33 years old. Although primarily known as a memoir about Robert Graves' experience of World War One, in which he served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the book opens with his family background, childhood, and education, before - at the outbreak of World War One - he enlists. The book also details his life for the ten years after World War One.

Goodbye to All That is an amazing memoir. For such a short volume Robert Graves packs in so much information and detail, and the book really brings alive day-to-day trench life with all its attendant horrors, boredom, pettiness, depravation, cameraderie and humour. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what life was like in the trenches. ( )
  nigeyb | Jan 9, 2014 |
Robert Graves' autobiography (up to when he was 33) is a mixed bag. His recollections of boarding school and university have been described elsewhere (by Stephen Fry for instance; the conservatism of those institutions means that the 70-year gap between either author's experiences is almost insignificant). The core of the book is Graves' description of serving in the trenches during WWI. No hero adoration, no absolute patriotism, but a man's true impressions of useless carnage. As a man of the Edwardian era, he questions the Victorian values he was brought up with. He considers himself a socialist, somewhat of an internationalist and even a feminist. Today's reader, however, will occasionally be surprised by patronising, racist, or misogynistic phrases, and especially by the boundless sense of entitlement of an English upper class man (throughout his career from public school boy to army officer)that pervades the entire book. Yet the writing is sincere, as the man tries to make sense of old value systems in a new century and the slaughter of millions of his contemporaries. ( )
  fist | Nov 9, 2013 |
By and large, a fairly light (surprisingly), anecdote-filled account of Graves' early life, up to the age of 30 or so. The pre- and post-WWI passages are diverting without being ground-breaking. Sadly, for me the most disappointing section is that which deals with his experiences on the Western Front in WWI. Apparently he set out to write it up in the form of a novel and later changed his mind. His adaptation of that material to memoir form is dry, disjointed, confusing and uninspiring. Perhaps that's an accurate reflection of how things were in that situation, but it doesn't make for an emotionally charged reading experience. Perhaps I'm too frivolous, but I prefer Pat Barker's fictionalisation of these events in the Regeneration trilogy. ( )
  Vivl | Oct 28, 2013 |
Just gets WWI right, and is such a good read. Amazing he lived as long as he did and no wonder in the Mediterranean. ( )
  JayLivernois | May 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Goodbye to all what? Not just to the trenches of World War I, but to all his life in England up to 1929, the year when poet Robert Graves wrote this memoir of his early years. I read it as an accompaniment to Pat Barker’s Regeneration, on which I will be commenting in a few days.

The same characters and the same war appear in both books — Graves himself, Sigfried Sassoon, the trenches, the mutilated bodies. While Regeneration is a novel, Goodbye to All That is a firsthand account of the horrors. Graves tells us how, as a boy of 19, he casually made the decision to fight.

"I had just finished with Charterhouse and gone up to Harlech, when England declared war on Germany. A day or two later I decided to enlist. In the first place, though the papers predicted only a very short war – over by Christmas at the outside – I hoped that it might last long enough to delay my going to Oxford in October, which I dreaded. Nor did I work out the possibilities of getting actively engaged in the fighting, expecting garrison service at home, while the regular forces were away."

And so it goes! Four years later,

"…I was still mentally and nervously organized for war. Shells used to come bursting on my bed at midnight, even though Nancy shared it with me; strangers in daytime would assume the faces of friends who had been killed."

Although my edition had a brief Epilogue from 1957, in the memoir itself Graves captures the mood of England’s middle and intellectual classes during the years before and after The Great War. As a new officer, Graves learned of his responsibilities as gentleman:

"First of all – I had not only gone to an inefficient tailor, but also had a soldier-servant who neglected to polish my buttons and shine my belt and boots as he should have done. Never having owned a valet before, I did not know what to expect of him. Crawshaw finally summoned me to the Orderly Room. He would not send me to France, he said, until I had entirely overhauled my wardrobe and looked more like a soldier…."

Once in France, Graves found more serious responsibilities than the polish of his belt. His report of those years is almost unemotional. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself, there is no “poor me” to get between us and his account of his experiences. After the war Graves was disabled by shell shock. Nervous and twitching and unable to settle comfortably into a new life, he continued as a writer. I am glad he survived to tell this story and all the others he gave us during a long career.
 
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As a proof of my readiness to accept autobiographical conventions, let me at once record my two earliest memories.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:05 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Robert Graves's autobiography tells the story of his life at public school and as a young officer during the first world war.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141184590, 014104554X, 0241951410

 

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