20th Century Goodbye To All That (Twentieth Century Classics)

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9780140180985: 20th Century Goodbye To All That (Twentieth Century Classics)

Thus begins Robert Graves' classic 1929 autobiography with its searing account of life in the trenches of the First World War; and yet this opening passage, together with much significant material, has been unavailable since 1957, when a middle-aged Graves totally revised his text,robbing it of the painfully raw edge that had helped to make it an international bestseller. By 1957 major changes in his private life had taken place. Graves was no longer living with Laura Riding, under whose influence and in whose honor the original had been written. By cutting outall references to Riding, by deleting passages which revealed the mental strains under which hehad labored, and by meticulously editing the entire text, Graves destroyed most of what he hadmade so powerful but also removed from it the only context in which it could be fully understood. We are pleased to offer the original 1929 edition on the occasion of Graves 100th anniversary, edited and annotated by Robert Graves's nephew and biographer, whose lucid introduction greatly enhances its value. Richard Perceval Graves lives in Shrewsbury, Britain, and has published Robert Graves: TheAssault Heroic 1895-1926 (1986). His most recent publication is Richard Hughes (1994) another book on his uncle, Robert Graves and the White Goddess, is scheduled for 1995.

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Review:

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

From the Publisher:

English novelist, poet, and essayist Graves, author of I, Claudius describes the break he made with his past in 1929. In chronicling his youth, World War I experiences, and years at Oxford, Graves gives parallel accounts of the end of his own innocence and that of the world prior to the Great War.

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Graves, Robert
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