May’s Book: Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves

by Jamie Klingler

With 2014 being the hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War, we’re using the excuse to delve into some of the best-known war literature. May’s book will be our first foray into memoir and non-fiction, and we’re reading Robert Graves’ Goodbye to All That – his account of life in the trenches.

Cover of Goodbye to All That

An autobiographical work that describes firsthand the great tectonic shifts in English society following the First World War, Robert Graves’s Goodbye to All That is a matchless evocation of the Great War’s haunting legacy. In 1929 Robert Graves went to live abroad permanently, vowing ‘never to make England my home again’. This is his superb account of his life up until that ‘bitter leave-taking’: from his childhood and desperately unhappy school days at Charterhouse, to his time serving as a young officer in the First World War that was to haunt him throughout his life. It also contains memorable encounters with fellow writers and poets, including Siegfried Sassoon and Thomas Hardy, and covers his increasingly unhappy marriage to Nancy Nicholson. Goodbye to All That, with its vivid, harrowing descriptions of the Western Front, is a classic war document, and also has immense value as one of the most candid self-portraits of an artist ever written.