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Goodbye to All That (Essential Penguin) [Paperback]

Robert Graves
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Goodbye to All That (Penguin Modern Classics) Goodbye to All That (Penguin Modern Classics) 4.4 out of 5 stars (58)
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Book Description

25 Feb 1999 Essential Penguin

Robert Graves' superb autobiography tells the story of his life at public school and as a young officer during the First World War.

'It is a permanently valuable work of literary art, and indispensable for the historian either of the First World War or of modern English poetry ... Apart, however, from its expetional value as a war document, this book has also the interest of being one of the most candid self-portraits of a poet, warts and all, ever painted. Thesketches of friends lof Mr Graves, like T.E. Lawrence, are beautifully vivid' Times Literary Supplement

Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140274200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140274202
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2.3 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 163,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


* Sensitive, intelligent books read as intelligently and sensitively as this are rare. The Guardian --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Born in 1895, Robert Graves went straight from school to the First World War, where he became a captain. A poet at heart, he also wrote several historical novels which include I, Claudius and Claudius the God - GOODBYE TO ALL THAT was written in 1929 and rapidly established itself as a modern classic. He translated Apuleius, Lucan and Suetonius for the Penguin Classics, and complied The Greek Myths. He was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1961. He died at his home in Majorca in 1929.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars shocking 14 Nov 2000
By A Customer
I read this book directly after reading All Quiet On The Western Front and found it a very intersting comparison. In many ways I found that Graves' detatched detailing of the horror was the most distressing. It's amazing how different two perspectives can be on essentially the same experience. The story described in this autobiography is a quite shocking but incredible one. You will especially enjoy it if you hold a specific interest either WW1, the early 20th century literary scene or, even better, both.
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly unputdownable. 7 Jan 2005
By deadbeat VINE VOICE
When I decided to read this book, I did so with trepidation. Previously, I had read All Quiet on The Western Front and Farewell to Arms and, even though I wanted to learn more about The First World War, I was worried about the diary format of Goodbye to All That.
I was, of course, more than pleasantly surprised. Robert Graves is lucid and engaging through-out. Even in the beginning, when he recalls his education at Harrow, I found it fascinating and was hooked. Robert Graves has a wonderful way of writing, whereby it's as if he's only having a casual conversation. In fact, all the way through, Graves employs this friendly method of communication, even when he's discussing his time in the trenches. Naturally, there are more than a few harrowing occasions when the author conveys his dispair, especially towards the end, where Graves becomes increasingly disillusioned with the war, but, even so, the engaging dialogue abides.
The book is highly interesting for several reasons. Firstly, and most prominently, there is much insight into the then-life of an officer, such as the antiquated hierarchy system, and trench war-fare, the old gas masks, the fun the officers had behind the lines, and the military tribunal system. And there is much more on that besides. There is also much about Robert Graves' family and his upbringing.
I enjoyed the book particularly for it descriptions of Siegfried Sassoon and his and Graves' friendship. Having such an intimate description of so emminent a poet is invaluable, and adds real depth to any of Sassoon's work you might read afterward.
Goodbye to All That is a great book. It is well crafted, and intriguing, and, more than anything, it is an important work of military literature.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flamboyant Masterpiece 10 Aug 2000
By Helena
I have always thought this book is vintage Graves: sentimental, varied in tone, boisterous at times, proving him an absolute genius with words and most of all, an incurable romantic. Among other contemporary prose classics of the war: clear-headed Sassoon, ethereal Blunden and, if you like, earth-bound Manning, Graves' book is probably the most charming, the most "fun" (insofar as a book about WWI could be fun) of all. At the time the book was published in 1929, both Blunden and Sassoon reacted violently against the fabricated passages in Graves' narrative which they found offensive. To Graves, however, it was not the faithful recording of actual events, but depiction of the spirit of men in war..., that really mattered. To me the most striking point is how little bitterness there is in this work, bearing in mind that many of the poets who survived the Great War went on to suffer unbearable nightmares and hauntings for decades to come. It is a proof of the tenacity and sheer energy of Graves' lively, uncompromising, compulsive personality, so brilliantly conveyed here, that in the 70 years since its publication his work has been considered the most striking, and the most abstractly faithful representation of the mad, agonising and comically absurd affair that was the Great War.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic 22 April 2002
By A Customer
Having read Blunden to Sassoon, Frank Richards to Remarque, it is this book which I constantly come back to. I can't quite single out why- whether its his descriptions of pre WW1 England, or the horrors of the war itself, or what happened in the immediate aftermath... its just so well pieced together. Unpretentious, graphic, gripping-
I visited the battlefield in France and Belgioum a couple of years ago and even though fully aware of the range of books and guides available- I consciously only took this one- and so we took in Graves' 'Brickstacks', and Cuinchy , and Givenchy etc- everything came to life.
It really is such a remarkable book I can't praise it enough, and anyone who wants to get a grip on this most important of times really needs to take the time out to read Goodbye to All That.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable read. 24 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Read this book in awe. Graves recounts his WW1 experience with such humanity sandwiched between accounts of his early public school life and post-war travels. He lead a somewhat charmed life in the trenches through the most terrible battles and military blunders. The fact that he survived the series of campaigns is remarkable enough and worthy of a book by itself. He attempts to put the war in some sort of context in his life by leading into the book with tales from his schooldays and emerging from the war to undergraduate life and finally as a lecturer in Cairo. This only serves to focus more on the war years as if by placing a white frame around a dark canvas. It is a remarkable read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Triste la Guerre 22 Nov 2008
This highly dramatic (not wonderful) autobiography covers the first thirty years of the author's life, which were heavily marked by religion, public school and World War I.

Education, religion
Robert Graves was educated in a patriarchal system where he learned `to masquerade as a gentleman'.
The religion of his youth left him with lifelong psychological scars: `religion developed in me a great capacity for fear - I was perpetually tortured by the fear of hell - a superstitious conscience, and a sexual embarrassment.'

Public school
For him, public school was `a fundamental evil' with very few decent schoolmasters, while nearly all the time was spent at Latin and Greek. R. Graves felt painfully `the oppression of the spirit, like sitting in a chilly cellar'. Writing literature (poems) was considered as a strong proof of insanity.
He was permanently bullied, until he took boxing lessons. He also didn't like the gay atmosphere where `boys used each other as convenient sex-instruments.'

The WW I massacre
The war experience left him shell-shocked.
The average life expectancy of an infantry subaltern was at some stages of the war only about three months. Morale became so low that an officer had to shoot a man from his company `to get the rest out of the trench.'
All the soldiers wanted, was to be wounded and to be set free to leave this horrible war: `A bullet in his neck. I was delighted. David should now be away long enough to escape perhaps even the rest of the war. Then came the news that David was dead.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I read this as an amateur WW1 historian for the first time
To all WW1 enthusiasts out there who may be prejudiced about reading a poet's sentimental autobiography, please do not ignore this book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Anton
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful autobiography mostly about the first world war
I read this because I was fascinated to hear a recent BBC documentary which claimed that this book was partly responsible for poisoning public opinion on the war. Read more
Published 4 months ago by hfffoman
4.0 out of 5 stars From the German perspective.
If you want to get a flavour of what young men thought and went through in the first world war, (including death), I cannot recommend this book enough. Read more
Published 16 months ago by John The Doc
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic
anybody who likes recent history, and the history of the great war, as the author was an active participant,a great read.
Published 16 months ago by gareth
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic tale of the first World War
This book was an old friend but my copy was lost. My neighbours were going to Flanders and were most grateful to be able to read an account by someone who was actually there.
Published on 23 Sep 2011 by Hillman
5.0 out of 5 stars classic
I wont go into a long winded reason of why this book is great. its wonderfully written with wit and charm, mixed with true human suffering. A honest legacy left by a great writer. Read more
Published on 5 Nov 2009 by Mr. Pj Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars A most moving account
"Goodbye to all that" is a most moving account of a young man's view of how it was to be thrown into the trenches of WW1 without so much as by your leave. Read more
Published on 7 Dec 2008 by Mr. Elliot Borthwick
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and contradictory
A very useful story and full of insights. Graves is very matter of fact about the most horrific aspects of the war - summary executions, soldiers wanting to kill their officers,... Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2008 by Mr. John Conrad Mullen
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary, unexpected pleasure
I bought this on the recommendation of Sue Townsend in the Guardian. I was so glad I did. I have always been put off "First World War" books because I thought they would all be... Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2008 by emma who reads a lot
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!!
This is a most amazing book. It sounds totally current, although written decades ago. If you want to know the reality of war, not just World War One, but ALL wars, read this book. Read more
Published on 25 Jun 2002 by Jeffrey Zekas
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