Thursday, November 7, 2013

Good-Bye to All That: Review

Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography is Robert Graves's direct, honest, and matter-of-fact portrayal of his life in the British public school system and as a member of the Royal Welch (as distinguished from Welsh--as he thoroughly explains) Fusiliers in World War I.  He discusses the torments and cruelties he endured in school--for reasons that ranged from his very German middle name to his preference for scholarly pursuits rather than sports to the fact that he couldn't afford to pay for treats for his fellows.  He is equally honest about the stupidities and shortcomings of the British military and about the brutality and torment of trench warfare in the "Great War."

His prose is very spare--but I can't say that it is absolutely "bare bones" as mentioned in the description on GoodReads.  Graves goes on (at great length) about the name of the Fusiliers as well as their right to wear certain decorations on their uniforms.  And how hard-fought that right was...He uses very short and direct descriptions...but then describes things several times and from several different angles.

This is an excellent look at the pre-WWI and WWI time periods--particularly for those who may not be at all familiar with England at this time.  For those of us who prefer our literature with a British slant, we're going to feel right at home and some of the repeated explanations are even a little much.  But--over all, a good read and necessary one for those interested in Britain during World War I.  Three solid stars--if I hadn't been so very familiar with the ground, I probably would rate it higher.

[This book is being read as a non-fiction counterpart to The Murder Stone by Charles Todd for the Semi-Charmed Autumn Challenge--with the topic of World War I.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for some pre- to early- WWI fiction & non-fiction. This sounds excellent.