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The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus Paperback – July 27, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Persea; Reprint edition (July 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892550589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892550586
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

I certainly haven’t enjoyed anything [this year] more than “The Unquiet Grave,” by Cyril Connolly...I've loved it since I was a teenager and like always to have it to hand. -- Donna Tartt

” (New York Times)

About the Author

Among Cyril Connolly's many books include The Unquiet Grave, Enemies of Promise, The Condemned Playground, Ideas and Places, The Modern Movement, and The Rock Pool.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
The writer Cyril Connolly states in this book that if an author wishes to write a book that lasts a thousand years, then they must learn to use invisible ink. In the first paragraph he also comments that the only objective of a writer is to produce a masterpiece, and no other task is of any consequence. In this book he achieved both. His exquisite prose is an embarrasing reminder of how the quality of English as a written language has deteriorated since this book was published in 1944. He achieves a unique insight into human nature as perceived from his high ground as a scholar of the classical school: His most famous quote from this book "Inside every fat man a thin one is wildly signalling to be let out" is trite compared to his other observations on human relationships, the nature of civilisation and the creative process. In one extraordinary, incisive paragraph he explains why so many couples break up despite the fact that they still love each other, and his summation of the three requisites for the creation of a work of art (Validity of the myth, the vigour of belief and the intensity of creation) goes some considerable way to explain the incompatibility of modern and classic art. Every individual to whom I lend a copy ends up copying out vast tracts of the text, or buying a copy outright. As a busy General Medical Practitioner, I would argue that there could be no greater nor more condensed wisdom so beautifully described in one short book. I am concerned that this book is once again out of print - will anyone out there publish it again?
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Sirin on March 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Cyril Connolly was a prolifically talented schoolboy. Tipped by many for great literary achievement, he wore the burden of this promise like a ball and chain for the rest of his life, anxiously ruminating on greatness.

He was one of the best read men of his generation, and felt that the virgin snow where Shakespeare and Montaigne cut their initial, deep furrows had since become flattened by innumerable tracks so it was no longer able to receive an impression.

Connolly was a great epicurian intellectual, a man whose mind watches itself in Camus' definition. He brooded obsessively on the human condition, admiring those writers who spat in the eye of the ephemeral fame and glory of their own era to follow the solitary and near impossible road to producing a great masterpiece.

A multitude of journalism, a small novel was written, but the masterpiece Connolly was tipped for never came.

But wait. In the course of a lifetime anxiously pondering, well, life itself, Connolly accumulated a hoard of aphorisms that relate to the human being as he or she passes through the stages of life, some of them from the great writers he admired, some of them his own. Here are some choice cuts:

(From Eliot): ''Someone said: 'The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.' Precisely, and they are that which we know.'

'The civilized are those who get more out of life than the uncivilized, and for this we are not likely to be forgiven.'

'Everything is a dangerous drug to me except reality, which is unendurable.'

'I am now forced to admit that anxiety is my true condition, occasionally intruded on by work, pleasure, melancholy or despair.'

The quote from Hemingway on the cover of my paperback edition holds true: 'A book which, no matter how many readers it will ever have, will never have enough.'

A masterpiece arrived at through the back door.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Practical Shopper on March 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book thirty years ago and I think it still has some value for me, though not as much as when I was a post-adolescent. I wanted to re-read it.

Don't buy this version; get one of the used copies that cost almost the same and have much better print quality. This was duplicated from a poor-quality scan and it will make for a negative reading experience.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Peter Wilson on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Unquiet Grave smells of the mannered ways of the English Middle Class before WW2. It has a certain pretentiousness which will repel some but open doors for others. It consists of paragraphs each of which contain a thought culled mostly from the wisdom literature of the last 3 millennia. Not all these thoughts are attributed, so some are presumably those of the author. They do, however, hang together well and may spark a high rate of response in their reader. Connolly does seem to reflect the anxious yearning for direction and certainty which infects many. Those people who current wisdom says should be secure in our modern world but who feel anything but secure will find the book reflecting their uncertainties. It will strike more chords in California than Bosnia, and some of the chords will be life enhancing.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
This work was written according to the author's introduction to the revised version between 1942 and 1943 in the midst of the great war. It was written when the former capitol of the world, according to him, London was filled with gloom. It is a reflection on literature and life, and many believe it is the masterpiece that Cyril Connally all his life strove to create.

In it he reflects on greatness in literature and on the meaning of the true masterpiece. He says,when including works by Horace, Virgil, Villon, Montaigne, La Fontaine, La Rouchefoucaud, La Bruyere, Baudelaire, Pope, Leopardi, Rimbaud, Byron in his list, that what is common to them is"Love of life and nature: lack of belief in the iea of progress: interest in , mingled with contempt for humanity. .. In feeling, these works of art contain the maximum of emotion compatible with a classical sense of form."

'Palinurus' is clearly a Francophile who in the midst of the war feels deeply the separation from the Continent, from France especially.

He writes what he calls ' the doubts and reflections of a year' in 'three or four rhythms: art, love, nature and religion.an experiment in self- dismantling , a search for the obstruction which is blocking the flow from the well and whereby the name of Palinurus is becoming an archetype of frustration."

The great critic Walter Benjamin thought to construct according to Hannah Arendt , a masterpiece made out of the quotations of other writers. Connally here devotes a good share of the text to the wisest wisdom he according to his lights could find in others. He also offers his own ruminations in part as a way of consoling himself for the personal loss which in some way sets the grieving tone of the work.

Does it amount to a masterpiece?
Read more ›
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