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Goodbye to All That

Goodbye to All That, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, Undertones of War

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellen Gilchrist Biography to Grain

Robert Graves's autobiography of his early life, written at the age of 33 and published in 1929, the year of his departure for Majorca with Laura Riding. Although the period covered extends beyond Graves's meeting with Riding, whose influence over him at the time of its composition was considerable, there is no reference to her in the text; Graves did not wish to include her in a work that was a conscious act of dissociation from his former life and its English social, cultural, and religious contexts. The book is principally noted for its vividly authentic treatments of trench warfare, which are presented with a bitter levelness of tone. The urgently laconic style throughout reflects the emotional compulsion under which Graves wrote. Goodbye to All That is classed with Sassoon's Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930) and Blunden's Undertones of War (1928) as one of the three great memoirs of the First World War; by comparison with the air of casual immediacy Graves adopts, Sassoon's and Blunden's manners seem consciously literary. Graves's versions of many events were not accepted by Sassoon, who, having seen the book in a proof copy, drew up a list of over 200 inaccuracies and insisted on the deletion of passages referring to his mother. The first edition duly appeared with blank sections and sold exceptionally well. Numerous others were offended by the work, notably certain members of Graves's family, whom, it appears from Robert Graves: The Years with Laura (1990) by his son R. P. Graves, were treated unjustly and unreasonably.

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