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Goodbye to All That (Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 22 Feb 1990


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (22 Feb. 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140180982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140180985
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Graves was born in 1895 in Wimbledon, the son of Irish writer Perceval Graves and Amalia Von Ranke. He went from school to the First World War, where he became a captain in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. After this, apart from a year as Professor of English Literature at Cairo University in 1926, he earned his living by writing, mostly historical novels, including: I, Claudius; Claudius the God; Count Belisarius; Wife of Mr Milton; Sergeant Lamb of the Ninth; Proceed, Sergeant Lamb; The Golden Fleece; They Hanged My Saintly Billy; and The Isles of Unwisdom. He wrote his autobiography, Goodbye to All That, in 1929, and it was soon established as a modern classic. The Times Literary Supplement acclaimed it as 'one of the most candid self portraits of a poet, warts and all, ever painted', as well as being of exceptional value as a war document. Two of his most discussed non-fiction works are The White Goddess, which presents a new view of the poetic impulse, and The Nazarine Gospel Restored (with Joshua Podro), a re-examination of primitive Christianity. He also translated Apuleius, Lucan and Suetonius for the Penguin Classics, and compiled the first modern dictionary of Greek Mythology, The Greek Myths. His translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (with Omar Ali-Shah) is also published in Penguin. He was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1961 and made an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, in 1971.

Robert Graves died on 7 December 1985 in Majorca, his home since 1929. On his death The Times wrote of him, 'He will be remembered for his achievements as a prose stylist, historical novelist and memorist, but above all as the great paradigm of the dedicated poet, "the greatest love poet in English since Donne".'

(Image courtesy of The William Graves Collection.)

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

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

'From the moment of its first appearance an established classic' --John Wain in the Observer

'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 exceptional 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. The sketches of friends of Mr Graves, like T. E. Lawrence, are beautifully vivid' --The Times Literary Supplement

'One of the classic accounts of the Western Front. . . In it the veteran survivors recognised their own war' – The Times

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As a proof of my readiness to accept autobiographical convention, let me at once record my two earliest memories. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ethan Cooper on 30 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT is the autobiography of the 34 year old Robert Graves, who, at this book's 1929 publication, was a former army captain who served with distinction in The Great War, an emerging poet, and a father, separated from his wife, with four young children. As a Yank, I'm not quite sure where Graves fit in the English class system of his day. But his family was distinguished and comfortable and Graves endured the bullying at Charterhouse, a prominent English public school.

Certainly, the two great themes of GBTAT are life in the British army in World War I and the friendships of Graves, the poet. For anyone with special interests in the war, I recommend Chapter 15, where he describes his participation in the disastrous Battle of Loos, a poorly planned and executed debacle where many senior officers showed haughty indifference to the plight of the common soldier. Those interested in the lives of poets might read Chapter 28, where Graves describes the many poets living in his midst at Oxford in 1919. Meanwhile, Chapter 29 offers profiles of T.E. Lawrence, his friend, and Thomas Hardy, who Graves visits while biking with his wife.

Graves's style in GBTAT is fabulous. This style is very efficient--he never lingers--yet also slightly discursive. This has the effect of building a rich texture around the distinctive theme of each chapter. In Chapter 9, for example, Graves describes his experiences as a rock climber. Here, his subject is the techniques and dangers of this sport, as well as its sometimes eccentric practitioners. But, he also works in a story about George Mallory, a mountaineer who died on Mount Everest, who was a friend and teacher at Charterhouse.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By goldsrobin on 23 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An outstanding recollection of life during the Great War. It is so helpful for those who wish to attempt to think constructively about 'the war to end all wars', to read about how those involved at the time felt and thought. We have heard so much from those who would characterize all involved as deluded. It is good to be reminded of the real challenges the army faced and the camerarderie felt towards those they served with.

A first class read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Bevan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Anyone who's studied the First World War will know that it was characterised throughout by folly and incompetence. But there is really nothing quite like an account written by someone who was actually there to bring those sad truths home in all their awful clarity. The writer Richard Graves, an officer for much of the war with the Royal Welch [sic] Fusiliers, tells it with a startling mixture of passion - both anger and great affection - and cool detachment. This was, perhaps, an essential survival mechanism for one in whom the mental scars of the conflict remained raw and unhealed for years afterwards. It would be hard to credit that the British army would mount a gas attack on German lines without checking which way the wind was blowing first - if it wasn't for the fact that Graves reports it; or to believe the petty spite, snobbery and classism the riddled the upper echelons of the officer class - if it were not there, in black and white. But Graves is unsparing, of himself as much as others. Recording his friend Siegfried Sassoon's protests against the war, he observes: `We decided that it was no use making a protest against the war. Every one was mad; we were hardly sane ourselves' (207).

This is more than just an account of the war of course, though Graves' telling of his part in it occupies the majority of the book. In many ways, his account of his early life at home and at (public) school, with its classism (`But now I realised that the servants were the lower classes, and that we were ourselves' (18)) and bullying prefigure what is to come in the trenches. To that extent, it's a very well-constructed book.

However, I felt it tailed off into something rather inconsequential once the war had ended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Boy on 21 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I should have read this classic at school but left it much later to read. Young Graves seems really unlikeable and I wanted to give up reading the section about his childhood. I persevered and his description of life and death in the trenches was worth it. I quite forgave him for being such a shallow youngster and ended up admiring him for his conduct during WW1. Shame that the final section of the book confirmed my original view of him. For a real insight into the horrors of war this takes some beating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Federico on 16 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I very much liked this book. Even if the whole story may not honour all the facts - as the Review in the book itself indicates - it is very good reading and a testament of what happened in those tragic years. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book many years ago. I bought this small hardback as this is a book I would like to last and not yellow. His account of his war experiences is riveting, and while his life before and after was more humdrum, he is an engaging writer, and his account is never less than interesting.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well packaged and arrived before the estimated delivery date. Beautiful hard-back book, but smaller than a regular book. This is a Christmas present for my daughter.
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