Good-bye to All That: An Autobiography

Good-bye to All That: An AutobiographyAlternate Cover Edition Of ISBN10 0140180982 ISBN13 9780140180985 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 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 Even Appalling Confrontations With The Callousness Arrogance Of The Military Command Yet This Scarifying Book Is Consistently Enthralling Graves Is A Superb Storyteller, There S Clearly Something Liberating About Burning All Your Bridges At 34 His Age When It 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 Critic, Graves In This One Work Seems 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 Robert Graves was one of those well educated British officers who reacted to the First World War with a kind of wise, Oxford Book of Verse horror and had to expunge the experience as best he could through his writing like Edmund Blunden, or Siegfried Sassoon The three of them indeed fought near each other in France and knew each other well It s a powerful and affecting vision, but it probably needs to be set against the rather different worldview of the private soldiers, as captured in Manning s The Middle Parts of Fortune or Barbusse s Le Feu.Graves is less funny than Sassoon, down to earth than Blunden he writes with a dry, easy style which is witty but somehow also rather brittle As in many similar memoirs, there is an awareness of the natural world which perhaps seems surprising to a modern reader In March I rejoined the First Battalion on the Somme It was the primrose season , though the tendency here is nowhere near as pronounced as in Blunden s Undertones of War There is a numbed sense of distance to many of the descriptions, and a sneaking suspicion that Graves may p
Another book in the series I am reading about WW1 It was interesting reading this in conjunction with A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor I found Graves much less likeable than Fermor However this is a very powerful description of the war and life in the trenches it also covers Graves s life before the war and until 1929.Graves was half German and half Irish and had a German middle name This meant he had a very difficult time at public school Charterhouse as war with Germany gradually became inevitable What saved Graves at Charterhouse was learning to box and one of the masters, George Mallory later to die on Everest who came across as a good man and taught Graves to climb Graves joined the army at the beginning of the war and remained in it throughout in a variety of roles He was reckless at times on holiday in Switzerland he decided it would be a good idea to ski down the skeleton bob run he survived and this showed at times in his approach to the war What Graves does excel at is describing army life in the trenches the comradeship, tensions, the idiocy of senior officers which he describes in cutting detail , the dangers, the squalor and the immediate risk of death Forays into no man s land, encounters with the enemy and with dead and decomposing bodies some of the accounts are horrific yet one feels even then that Graves holds back a little What makes this account so good is Graves
The opposite of a love letter to Edwardian England, a literary explanation in the form of a memoir of why the author abandoned he land of his birth in favour of Majorca, despite the experiences of George Sand and Frederic Chopin i
In 1929 Robert Graves aged 33 went abroad, resolved never to make England my home again which explains the title However this autobiography does little to illuminate that decision in an epilogue he says that a conditioning in the Protestant morality of the English governing classes, though qualified by mixed blood, a rebellious nature, and an overriding poetic obsession, is not easily outgrown Nor is it easily escaped when writing about your own life one thing that does not feature is his inner, emotional life, which I daresay is only to be expected of a man who went through English public school in the early part of the 20th century and then the horror of the trenches in WW1.His description of life after the War indicates how that experience refused to let him go the years between 1918 and 1926, when the story ends, a
A Poet at War19 December 2017 As I was wandering through Newtown in Sydney I came across a crate of books dumped at the side of the road Considering that the law states that if somebody throws something away then it ceases to by anybody s property which basically means that anybody can then make a claim to possess that object, and also due to the fact that they appeared to have begun to be worn down by the elements, I concluded that the owner of these books no longer wanted them So, I decided to have a look through them and my eyes immediately fell upon this book There was a little niggling at the back of my mind that this was a book that I wanted to read, and I was familiar with the author, having read I, Claudius, and am still digging through my pile of books attempting to locate Claudius the God As it turned out I had read a review on Goodreads and had immediately became enamoured with the book, and noting that it was Grave s autobiography grabbed me even Okay, I m actually not a big fan of autobiographies, but then again when they basically consist of a bunch of books about actors, politicians, sports stars, and musicians, and are inevitably ghost written by somebody that can t actually write, then I m sure you will probably agree with me However, every so often you come across a gem, and that is an autobiography written by a really good writer one of them was Surprised by Joy by C.S Lewis, and
The human mind invariably seeks patterns And so, reading WWI histories always has been frustrating because of the war s Brownian motion the inability to discern any strategy at all So the great value of Graves s anti war memoir is that, as a Captain in a Welch regiment, he had no clue about, and thus does not write about, the larger strategy of the war He confines his pen to tactics, and the tactics he observed are damning Lesson one, btw, is that the surest way to lose public support for war is to issue false communiques and casualty reports.Yet, somehow I was disappointed Not in the writing Graves is brilliant But the book doesn t live up to its famous title Why the author decided to chuck it all when he did seemed less related to the war and to his personal life There was no there there But a damn good read nonetheless Sergeant Smith, my second sergeant, told me of the officer who had commanded the platoon before I did He was a nice gentleman, Sir, but very wild Just before the Rue du Bois show, he says to me By the way, Sergeant, I m going to get killed tomorrow I know that And I know that you re going to be all right So see to it that my kit goes back to my people You ll find their address in my pocket book You ll find five hundred francs there too Now remembe
This is one of the great books to come out of the First World War It is usually categorized as a memoir, but there is probably fiction in it than fact Graves was up front about this he wrote the book in just eleven weeks, because he needed the money, and admitted that he threw in every plot element he could think of that would help it sell For all that, it transcends its genre, because sometimes fiction reveals than fact By not restricting himself to just what he personally saw and heard, he was able to add stories and anecdotes that bring the experience of war alive His descriptions of the trenches and the battles are laconic but do not spare the reader the madness and horrors of combat Similarly, his descriptions of life out of the line are interesting and memorable, especially the the senior officers who could not shake their pre war fixation with shined buttons and sharp salutes faced with the imbecilities and petty harassment of the battalion mess, an exasperated Graves says at one point, But all this is childish Is there a war on here, or isn t there Graves talks about the constant turnover of officers and men, as they are killed, wounded, or taken sick In Siegried Sassoon s Memoirs of an Infantry Officer he recalls being told that infantry battalions turned over their personnel every four months, so that by the time a s
This is a good year to read about World War I and there s no shortage of new material out there for anyone interested in the subject However, this is a work that has been around for a very long time since 1929, in fact Published when Graves was just thirty four, he wrote in the prologue to the revised edition published in 1957 that the work was his bitter leave taking of England where he had recently broken a good many conventions It signalled Graves departure for Spain, where he lived for most of the remainder of his life.A middle class public school boy with an Anglo Irish father and a German mother, Robert Graves served in France during World War I as a lieutenant and then as a captain in the Royal Welch Fusiliers The main part of the work provides a detailed description of trench warfare, including accounts of the Battle of Loos and of the fighting during the first phase of the Battle of the Somme Graves also deals with his family history, childhood, educ
It s 2014 and the centenary of World War One I heard a discussion about it the other day and one thing struck me The idea being suggested was that it would have been BETTER FOR EVERYONE if Germany had WON the First World War How about that I never thought of it before, but the logic was compelling Germany s victory would have stifled Hitler s political career before it got going There would have been no Versailles treaty, no reparations, no financi
The back cover blurb describes the contents of this volume as candid That puzzled me until well into the text I realised that this was perhaps Robert Graves personal survival stratagem My grandfather s was quite the reverse only once, and when I was ill, did he talk to me of his military service in the Great War Are there events where it is literally healthier for our psyche that we remember and learn from simple and candid fact, rather than spend excessive time in introspection attempting, often impossibly, given the clouding effects of time to reach and be only satisfied by some deep and publishable psychoanalytical understanding Or am I just plain cynical When I reached the last page I realised that I had used a whopping twenty five brightly coloured page markers to indicate comments and passages which had struck a chord with me as I read beginning with George Mallory then a master at Charterhouse taking the young Robert Graves a pupil at Charterhouse to climb Snowdon one January where only the previous night the roof of the hotel on the summit had been blown off Graves recalls sitting by the cairn and eating Carlsbad plums and liver sausage sandwiches before he and Mallory cast around for stones to shie at the chimney stack of the building until it collapsed and joined the heap of rubble that had once been the roof p.62 Nowadays one imagines that such a highly visible published confession 1929 would result in receiving an official letter in the post