Apr 12 2009

Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves

As a self-serving memoir, I am sure this book was more interesting for Graves to write than it was for me to read. Ostensibly it is a personal account of the Great War, but the author is clearly more interested in himself than in the war. Yet the book is not altogether without interest in other respects. Graves agrees with C.S. Lewis that the purpose of the British boarding school is to turn boys into homosexuals. He had personal acquaintance with Siegfried Sassoon, Thomas Hardy, T.E. Lawrence, and Bertrand Russell…there is quite a bit of conspicuous name-dropping toward the end. He seems to find English country life pleasant and charming; though I have only experienced it vicariously, it seems to me dreary, dull, shabby, and provincial, even for relatively well off people like him. It is his experiences after the war that I find most interesting; his account of life in pre-Nasser Egypt is humorous and rather fascinating. In spite of the title, Graves is incurably English.

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