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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the few books I would insist any wisdom seeker reads.
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...
Published on March 5, 1999

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible print quality
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...
Published 22 months ago by Practical Shopper


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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the few books I would insist any wisdom seeker reads., March 5, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Unwittingly, a masterpiece, March 19, 2006
By 
Sirin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (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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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible print quality, March 8, 2013
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This review is from: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars It makes you think, December 14, 1999
This review is from: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A voyage towards a masterpiece?, April 2, 2006
This review is from: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (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? I would almost want to answer ' for those who feel it so'.

Palinurus himself says of Palinurus in the concluding page of the volume, "Palinurus, in fact, though he despises the emptiness of achievement , the applause of the multitude and the rewards of fame, comes in his long exile to hate himself for this contempt and so jumps childishly at the chance to be perpetuated as an obscure cape."

It appears that if Cyril Connally is perpetuated in Literature it will be through this particular voyage in the heart of life and literature.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Famous Word Cycle, April 23, 2005
By 
Mary E. Sibley (Medina, Ohio, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (Paperback)
The book consists of the doubts and reflections of a year. Life has no more continuity than a pool in the rocks. The author asserts that Christianity and Buddhism are stratagems of failure. Success in life is defined by survival. One should study a long life, Goethe's.

The decision to marry balances the fear of bondage against the fear of loneliness. A man with a will to power can have no friends. A woman's desire for revenge outlasts her other emotions. Three faults infect every activity--laziness, vanity, cowardice. These characteristics are impediments to wisdom.

Happiness rests in the avoidance of angst. Anxiety at being kept waiting is a form of jealousy. Connolly relates that the creative moment of a writer comes with the autumn. Surrealism seems to exist in vast cities. Works of art need valid myths, belief, vocation.

No happiness can be obtained through the destruction of another person's happiness. Reading and routines are sanctuaries. Civilized people get more out of life than the uncivilized. Central heating benefitted the north. Air conditioning will benefit the south. In all cultures factors of decadence are a constant.

Ennui is produced through not fulfilling our potential. Artists, mystics, naturalists, and mathematicians work in solitude. The cortex is a machine for thinking. Tea, coffee, alcohol stimulate. People consumed with curiousity without love should write maxims.

Hemingway saturated his books with the memory of physical pleasure. Art is memory, re-enacted desire. The English language is like a broad river. Unhappiness can be valuable. Bio-physical equilibrium is a source of happiness.

This cobbled-together account of deep reading and thinking makes a wonderful book.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a gourmet meal for the soul and spirit., September 15, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (Paperback)
A bit of a philosophical conglomeration of streaming thoughts from various writers and philosophers of the last 2000+ years. This is not a self-help book; however it covers the many facets of love, sex, marriage, relationships, hell, fresh hell, money, life, angst, neuroses, and all of the other stuff which we conjure up in our human ways to infect the sweet bliss of the moment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something new provokes quiet contemplation every time I open this book, May 22, 2014
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This review is from: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (Paperback)
I was turned on to this book of wisdom by an interview I read last year of Donna Tartt. "The Unquiet Grave" is actually a journal written by Mr. Connolly (1903-74), an English critic, during the devastation of WWII and filled with his reflections on society, aging, the breakup of his marriage and the war. It's a collection of aphorisms, epigrams and quotations from masters of European lit.

I wholeheartedly agree with the cover quote of Ernest Hemingway, "A book which, no matter how many readers it will ever have, will never have enough." I will share a few of the gems I've found:

*****
"There is no pain equal to that which two lovers can inflict on one another. This should be made clear to all who contemplate such a union. The avoidance of this pain is the beginning of wisdom, for it is strong enough to contaminate the rest of our lives; and since it can be minimized by obeying a few simple rules, rules which approximate to Christian marriage, they provide, even to the unbeliever, its de facto justification. It is when we begin to hurt those whom we love that the guilt with which we are born becomes intolerable, and since all those whom we love intensely and continuously grow part of us, and as we hate ourselves in them, so we torture ourselves and them together."
_____
"A love affair is a grafting operation. 'What has once been joined, never forgets.' There is a moment when he graft takes; up to then is possible without difficulty the separation which afterwards comes only through breaking off a great hunk of oneself, the ingrown fibre of hours, days, years."
______
"In the sex-war thoughtlessness is the weapon of the male, vindictiveness of the female. Both are reciprocally generated, but a woman's desire for revenge outlasts all other emotion.
`And their revenge is as the tiger's spring,
Deadly, and quick, and crushing; yet as real
Torture is theirs, what they inflict they fell.'
When every unkind word about women has been said, we still have to admit, with Byron, that they are nicer than men. They are more devoted, more unselfish and more emotionally sincere. When the long fuse of cruelty, deceit and revenge is set alight, it is male thoughtlessness which has fired it."
_____
"There is no hate without fear. Hate is crystallized fear, fear's dividend, fear objectivized. We hate what we fear and so where hate is, fear will be lurking. Thus we hate what threatens our person, our liberty, our privacy, our income, our popularity, our vanity and our dreams and plans for ourselves. If we can isolate this element in what we hate we may be able to cease from hating. Analyse in this way the hatred of ideas or of the kind of people whom we have once loved and whose faces are preserved in Spirits of Anger. Hate is the consequence of fear; we fear something before we hate; the child who fears noise becomes the man who hates them."
_____
"`Whatever you blame, that you have done yourself.' Groddeck"

**********

A MUST for any thinker's library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Read This if You Don't Want to Think!, February 15, 2014
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This review is from: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (Paperback)
Recommended by Donna Tartt as the best book she's ever read. I don't know that I'd go that far, but it is excellent. A real keeper that you would want to return and return to for the wit and wisdom. No plot, no characters, other than the author and the great writers and artists and philosophers whom he quotes extensively. Lots of French excerpts. I plan to re-read with translation.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure, May 26, 2014
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RIght up there with Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, a book everyone should have read. Piercing, strange, odd, exquisite.
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The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus by Cyril Connolly (Paperback - July 27, 2005)
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