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Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography Paperback – Large Print, February 1, 1958

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Editorial Reviews 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


Autobiography by Robert Graves, published in 1929 and revised in 1957. It is considered a classic of the disillusioned postwar generation. Divided into anecdotal scenes and satiric episodes, Good-Bye to All That is infused with a dark humor. It chronicles the author's experiences as a student at Charterhouse School in London and as a teenaged soldier in France during World War I, where he sustained severe wounds in combat. His memoir continues after the war with descriptions of his life in Wales, at Oxford University, and in Egypt. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 347 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 2nd Revised edition (February 1, 1958)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385093306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385093309
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

ROBERT GRAVES (1895-1985) was an English poet, translator, and novelist, one of the leading English men of letters in the twentieth century. He fought in World War I and won international acclaim in 1929 with the publication of his memoir of the First World War, Good-bye to All That. After the war, he was granted a classical scholarship at Oxford and subsequently went to Egypt as the first professor of English at the University of Cairo. He is most noted for his series of novels about the Roman emperor Claudius and his works on mythology, such as The White Goddess.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 142 people found the following review helpful By Robert O'Matic on November 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There were two editions of this Robert Graves Classic: "Goodbye to All That" made by the author during his lifetime. The first came out in the 20s and was raw and popular and controversial. The second came out in the 50s and was somewhat bowdlerized by the author, because several of the people involved were still alive. His nephew oversaw an edition in 1995 which explained some of the reasons for the changed second edition and restored some of the original material. If you pay attention to details, find out which edition you are getting. I have downrated this edition because it is the second. I purchased the Richard Perceval Graves version off of Amazon about a year ago.
If this is too nitpicky for you, the second edition is still very good, it is missing some interesting material however, particularly the opening poem by Laura Riding and Graves' interesting dedication to her at the end of the book.
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144 of 149 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT is about considerably more than just Graves's experiences in the trenches in WW I, but it is that section of the book that makes this memoir stand apart from most others. That, and the exceptional honesty of the book, which manages to be tell-all without being gossipy. There is also a sense of renunciation; instead of nostalgic longing to recover the past as one find in other memoirs, Graves is anxious to put the past aside for good, to have done with it entirely.
The best parts of the book are those dealing with his dreadful time in school, he time serving in the war, and his various friendships. Some of those friendships sneak up on you. He writes at length of a literature professor at school named George Mallory who profoundly molded his reading and literary sensibilities. He writes for page after page about "George," but it isn't until he begin a chapter with the words, "George Mallory did something better than lend me books: he too me climbing on Snowdon in the school vacation." It wasn't until that moment that I realized that George Mallory the literature instructor was THAT George Mallory, the famous mountain climber who attempted Everest (and perhaps conquered it) "because it is there." George becomes one of Graves's greatest friends, and even serves as best man in his wedding. The other friendship I found fascinating, perhaps because the man himself remains one of the most mystifying characters of the 20th century, was T. E. Lawrence. As Lawrence removed himself from the public eye more and more in the 1920s and 1930s, being in 1920 perhaps one of the most famous individuals in the British Empire, he changed personas from Lawrence of Arabia to Private Shaw, reenlisting in the Army as an auto mechanic.
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80 of 84 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on May 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
I spotted this remarkable book on ... Top 100 Non-Fiction Books of the Century list. In "Good-bye to All That, " the British poet Robert Graves (1895-1985), best known to American readers as the author of the novel of ancient Rome, "I Claudius," writes the autobiography of his youth, justifiably famous for its eloquent but straight-forward depiction of the horrors of WWI, during which Graves spent years in the trenches of France as an army captain.
More than the war, however, Graves' topic is the passing of an era: the class-ridden and naïve culture of the Edwardian upper classes, a culture did not survive the war. Graves came from a landed family and received a classic boarding-school education. Even in the trenches officers like Graves had personal servants and took offense when they had to dine with officers of `the wrong sort' (promoted from the lower classes).
Graves' narrative itself barely survives the end of the war; the post-war chapters seem listless and shell-shocked, emotionally detached. The battles he survived are written about with precision, gravity, and emotional impact; but Graves' marriage and the birth of his children seem like newspaper reports. Surprisingly, he doesn't even talk of his poetry much. This, surely, is not a defect of the book but a genuine reflection of his feelings at the time: After the War, nothing meant much to him.
Graves' literary style is very matter-of-fact--the opposite of the imagistic, adjective-driven language one might expect of a poet. Instead, he had a gift for the right details: in only a sentence or two, by careful description, he can perfectly describe a fellow-soldier or give the exact sense of `being there' in battle. The book is a remarkable achievement worth reading even for those who may be glad the old days were left behind.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By C. Collins on August 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
I first became aware of Goodbye to All That when I was reading Resurrection by Pat Barker. Barker's WWI historical novel has Robert Grave, Seigfried Sassoon, WHR Rivers, and Wilfred Owens as characters in a British army hospital. Graves is a minor character, but Sassoon and Rivers are the main characters. My curiosity about Robert Grave's impressions of his WWI experiences lead me to Goodbye to All That.

By the time Graves had written this book, he was 35 and was living with Laura Riding, his literary muse and lover. Yet he does not mention her in the book. Rather he concentrates on the disasterous British school system that he endured as a child and young man, his expereinces in WWI, and ends with the downfall of his first marriage to Nancy Nicholson (the mother of his 4 children) and his teaching position in Egypt at the University of Cairo. Nancy was a socialist and feminist and eventually she drove Graves away. This is so odd considering that Graves was totally sympathetic to matriarchial power structures and devoted much of his writing nad poetry to the White Goddess. There is no White Goddess to be found in these pages however, which is so odd considering his fascination with this topic throughout his poetic and literary career. T.E. Lawrence was a friend of Graves and gave Graves the copywrite to four chapters of Pillars of Wisdom for publication in the USA. This allowed Graves additional income to support his writing career as well as a large family.

The sections on WWI are the highlights of the book. Robert Graves enlisted at age 19 and became an officer due to his social class. He is seriously wounded and his family is told he is dead but he rises from this condition to regain his health. He meets the poet Siefried Sassoon during this convalescence. He also meets Dr.
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