Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Goodbye to All That” as Want to Read:
Goodbye to All That
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Goodbye to All That

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  7,795 Ratings  ·  496 Reviews
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, published in Penguin Modern Classics.

In 1929 Robert Graves went to live abroad permanently, vowing 'never to make England my home again'. This is his su
Paperback, Modern Classics, 281 pages
Published September 28th 2000 by Penguin Modern Classics (first published 1929)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Goodbye to All That, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Goodbye to All That

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details

Robert Graves was one of those well-educated British officers who reacted to the First World War with a kind of wise, Oxford-Book-of-Verse horror and had to expunge the experience as best he could through his writing – like Edmund Blunden, or Siegfried Sassoon. The three of them indeed fought near each other in France and knew each other well. It's a powerful and affecting vision, but it probably needs to be set against the rather different worldview of the private soldiers, as captured in Manni
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-one
Another book in the series I am reading about WW1. It was interesting reading this in conjunction with A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor; I found Graves much less likeable than Fermor. However this is a very powerful description of the war and life in the trenches; it also covers Graves’s life before the war and until 1929.
Graves was half German and half Irish and had a German middle name. This meant he had a very difficult time at public school (Charterhouse) as war with Germany gradually
The opposite of a love letter to Edwardian England, a literary explanation in the form of a memoir of why the author abandoned he land of his birth in favour of Majorca, despite the experiences of George Sand and Frederic Chopin in the Balearic Islands .

A striking description of Robert von Rancke Graves' (view spoiler) formal schooling as perversion, a form of espalier that prevented him from growing freely, instead givin
Nov 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
In 1929 Robert Graves (aged 33) went abroad, "resolved never to make England my home again;" which explains the title. However this autobiography does little to illuminate that decision: in an epilogue he says that "a conditioning in the Protestant morality of the English governing classes, though qualified by mixed blood, a rebellious nature, and an overriding poetic obsession, is not easily outgrown." Nor is it easily escaped when writing about your own life: one thing that does not feature is ...more
The human mind invariably seeks patterns. And so, reading WWI histories always has been frustrating because of the war's Brownian motion; the inability to discern any strategy at all. So the great value of Graves's anti-war memoir is that, as a Captain in a Welch regiment, he had no clue about, and thus does not write about, the larger strategy of the war. He confines his pen to tactics, and the tactics he observed are damning. Lesson one, btw, is that the surest way to lose public support for w ...more
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a good year to read about World War I and there's no shortage of new material out there for anyone interested in the subject. However, this is a work that has been around for a very long time: since 1929, in fact. Published when Graves was just thirty-four, he wrote in the prologue to the revised edition published in 1957 that the work was his "bitter leave-taking of England" where he had recently "broken a good many conventions". It signalled Graves' departure for Spain, where he lived
The back cover blurb describes the contents of this volume as “candid”.
That puzzled me until well into the text I realised that this was perhaps Robert Graves’ personal survival stratagem. My grandfather’s was quite the reverse; only once, and when I was ill, did he talk to me of his military service in the Great War.

Are there events where it is literally healthier for our psyche that we remember and learn from simple and candid fact, rather than spend excessive time in introspection attemptin
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Tyler by: WWI Bibliography
Shelves: gay-interest
Herbert Marcuse describes in One-dimensional Man a world where clashing ideas are held together in a way that makes them impossible to evaluate. We see this with the current PBS ads which, in service to some obscene aesthetic, combine classical opera with film of a napalm attack on Vietnam. A kindred juxtaposition makes the technique of Goodbye to All That recognizably modern. Graves relates his life in a succession of caricatures that shift between the comic and the horrific. Young Graves faces ...more
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww1
It is as a document of World War One that this book really shines. Robert Graves includes a wealth of little details that bring the day-to-day life of him, and his regiment, to life: the gallows humour, the values of the soldiers, the disillusionment with the war and the staff (and yet the loyalty to their officers), the lice, the food, the other privations. It's all there in this excellent memoir. Robert Graves also captures the tragedy and waste of the conflict - friends and fellow soldiers dy ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Robert Graves's autobiography which he finished in 1929 at the age of 32 or 33. Fortunately, his life didn't end there but as he said himself, many years later, his life after that wasn't worth writing about (again). In his memoirs, he mostly talks about his experiences during the Great War, as an officer in the British Army ( the Royal Welch; yes Welch with a c). This work is a honest, no nonsense piece of art/literature. It was a pleasant and accessible read. I highly recommend this wo ...more
Paul Bryant
It's 2014 - and the centenary of World War One. I heard a discussion about it the other day and one thing struck me. The idea being suggested was that it would have been BETTER FOR EVERYONE if Germany had WON the First World War. How about that! I never thought of it before, but the logic was compelling. Germany's victory would have stifled Hitler's political career before it got going. There would have been no Versailles treaty, no reparations, no financial catastrophe.....

No Nazis.

No Holocaus
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for several reasons. Recently I have been interested in learning more about the transition from Edwardian England to the years following WW I, about the changes in society and in the attitudes of the people of England as they faced the alterations in their domestic and imperial situation and aspirations. I also am interested in knowing more about the English “War Poets,” both those who survived the conflict and those who did not. Finally, I enjoyed reading Graves’ novel I, Claud ...more
Jean Poulos
This book was written in 1929 as a memoir of his service in World War One. The book covers his early life, his time at Charterhouse School where he was mercilessly bullied, the war and the post war period up to writing the book in 1929.

Like many young men Graves enlisted within days of the outbreak of the Great War with no understanding of what war was like. He enlisted as an officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He fought in France—the Somme, Souchez, Bethune, Loos, Cambria and Cuinchy—and was
Aug 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The lines that have stayed with me after finishing this book are those Graves wrote about his time in Oxford after the war, when he was experiencing vivid "daydreams" of trench warfare. It's obvious now that those 'dreams' were flashbacks -- I'm guessing the term hadn't been invented yet -- and Graves says they were always of his first four months in the trenches, that his "feeling-apparatus" (Graves' words) had shut down after that time.

As a schoolboy, Graves suffered under the herd mentality a
Mar 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Graves, an English poet, writer, and proponent of the White Goddess mythology of muses - all done with considerable talent - penned his autobiography in 1927, while still in his early thirties; even at such a relatively young age, he burned with the need to set to paper the traumatic and disillusioning experiences that seared him during his military service in World War One. Graves, a product of the British class system, forthrightly details his formative years amongst the upper echelon a ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk

Un monito contro la guerra

Robert Graves, poeta e romanziere, scrisse questa autobiografia a 34 anni, quando decise di dire addio alla sua patria, l'Inghilterra, alla sua famiglia e alla carriera. Perché questo addio?

La sua vita fino a quel momento era stata punteggiata da violenza psicologica e fisica. In Inghilterra la vita famigliare dei ragazzi terminava a otto anni, visto che a quell'età entravano a scuola e non tornavano più se non per le vacanze. L'educazione scolastica molto rigida gli la
Don Incognito
Oct 30, 2012 rated it liked it
The strength of Robert Graves' autobiography is that it provides sharp and illuminating observations on: the culture of the British school system and students in the early twentieth century; the behavior and attitudes of British regular military officers (as opposed to both enlistees and reservists) near the frontline during World War I; and, especially, trench warfare. The book is an excellent resource for understanding what life in the trenches--during attacks and between attacks--was like. Tr ...more
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is a tale of three periods of Robert Graves's life, which spans his childhood, his involvement in WWI and the post-war years between 1918-1929. At this point the autobiography ends when Graves is 33. Graves added an epilogue later in which he comments that re-reading Goodbye to All That is much akin to reading ancient history.

Graves takes us through his childhood years at a series of public schools, most notably Charthouse and then the main focus of WWI takes centre stage. I found Grav
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an extraordinary book. It's as fresh to read as broadsheet journalism. Robert Graves is confiding, honest, provocative - not at all like a stiff upper-lipped English gentleman, (Perhaps this is because he was part-Irish, part German?)
Most of my knowledge of the First World War comes from reading the poetry of Wilfred Owen, a couple of biographies of Owen, and Pat Barker's 'Regeneration' trilogy. Graves's account of life in the trenches adds greatly to that picture. I was able to understa
Aug 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
All the chickenhawks who think war is wonderful and glorious should read this book. Then go enlist.
Nov 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
What follows is my favorite passage from Goodbye to All That. It begins with Graves's delivery of absurdity in deadpan style:

"Many of the patients at Osborne were neurasthenic and should have been in a special neurasthenic hospital. A.A. Milne was there, as a subaltern in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and in his least humorous vein. One Vernon Bartlett, of the Hampshire Regiment, decided with me that something new must be started. So we founded the 'Royal Albert Society', its pretended aim b
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I probably would have liked this better if I'd been able to read it in print. Alas, most libraries don't have it these days, so I was lucky enough to get the abridged audio edition from my library. It's only four disks, and the fourth disk is far and away the most interesting. The earlier disks are filled with the repetitive miseries of World War I from the soldier's perspective, and also his strange upbringing as an English schoolboy.

The fourth disk provides a lot more variety. He discusses th
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Smoothly written and often darkly humorous memoir about the complications of upper crust British boyhood and young adulthood. The memoir focuses on Graves’s time in the trenches during WWI, and it’s a stirring personal report on the devastation and stress of war (with some moments of wit and humor to lift the mood, such as his account of how he was declared officially dead while he was convalescing). Particularly interesting: his long friendship with Siegfried Sassoon, his (swiftly disintegratin ...more
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Graves, Robert. GOODBYE TO ALL THAT: An Autobiography. (1929; revised 2nd ed. 1957). ****. From the back cover: “Robert Graves left his native England for Majorca shortly after World War I and, except for infrequent visits, has never returned since. But in this autobiography written at the age of thirty-three – youth, the war, and Oxford behind him – Graves says goodbye to more than simply England and his English family and friends. For the war ended a way of life. It ended the 19th century and ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Graves' detached, matter-of-fact recounting of his time in the British Army during the First World War only grows more poignant and pointed with each successive re-read. He bares himself here, unafraid to confess to the defects of his class, his upbringing, his education, his nation and even of his own character.

The incidents and anecdotes are rendered with a sort of descriptive alacrity--whether it is the Tommy who pulled the boot off of a frostbitten foot in order to shoot himself with his En
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't really sure about this one beforehand - decided to read it purely because it was top of the pile of random books tht seems to have accumulated next to my bed. Turned out to be an inspired piece of untidiness.

I really cannot recommend this highly enough - moving, heartfelt, and you constantly get the impression that Graves is playing his own achievements and contributions down in order to talk up his friends. This modesty does leave you feeling curiously as though you've not been told th
María Paz Greene
Una autobio más, en esta ocasión de un inglés a quien le tocó pelear durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Dura, interesante, muchas veces inspiradora, pero leeenta. El libro tiene ya casi 90 años y se nota.

Tal vez si hubiera sido más del lugar o de la época, me habría parecido menos tedioso. Hay un montón de referencias a lugares, culturas, tradiciones y personas que no me ha tocado ver ni en pelea ni perros, y así hubo partes en las que no solo me perdí, sino en que directamente me aburrí con tan
Tamora Pierce
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, adult
This is the autobiography by poet, novelist, essayist, you name it Robert Graves, author of I, CLAUDIUS and CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE WHITE GODDESS, translations of the Greek myths and legends (which I found *very* educational and read before Bulfinch and Edith Hamilton), and large numbers of other things I cannot detail. It begins with his childhood, his ancestry--assorted illustrious writers and ministers on the British side and minor German nobility--and his school history, up until the outbreak ...more
Diane Barnes
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-one
This 3 star review is really more 3 1/2, because as a historical telling of his life before, during, and after WWI, it is valuable for it's portrayal of the changing of the guard in England during that time. However, for me, (and I know I may be in the minority here with other reviewers), it was not a book that I looked forward to spending time with. His voice was dry and distant, with no passion regarding the events related. There were very few details that made scenes come alive, instead it wa ...more
Courtney Johnston
Over the past week, I have thought and thought and though and thought about how to review this book. And I've realised that I just can't. I have dogeared 20+ pages, I have re=read chapters, I have drafted opening lines inside my head, but there is nothing I can add to this book.

However. As we start gearing up for a nationwide outpouring of sentimentality to mark the centennial of the beginning of World War One, I think we owe it to ourselves to read books like this - surely one of the most caust
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Memoirs of an Infantry Officer
  • Undertones of War
  • The Great War and Modern Memory
  • Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age
  • The Roses of No Man's Land
  • Sagittarius Rising
  • Storm of Steel
  • Her Privates We
  • Testament of Youth
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War
  • Eminent Victorians
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry
  • The First Day on the Somme
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • The Missing of the Somme
  • Under Fire
  • Death's Men: Soldiers of the Great War
  • Samuel Johnson
Robert Ranke Graves, born in Wimbledon, received his early education at King's College School and Copthorne Prep School, Wimbledon & Charterhouse School and won a scholarship to St John's College, Oxford. While at Charterhouse in 1912, he fell in love with G. H. Johnstone, a boy of fourteen ("Dick" in Goodbye to All That) When challenged by the headmaster he defended himself by citing Plato, G ...more
More about Robert Graves...

Share This Book

“About this business of being a gentleman: I paid so heavily for the fourteen years of my gentleman’s education that I feel entitled, now and then, to get some sort of return.” 6 likes
“Nor had I any illusions about Algernon Charles Swinburne, who often used to stop my perambulator when he met it on Nurses’ Walk, at the edge of Wimbledon Common, and pat me on the head and kiss me: he was an inveterate pram-stopper and patter and kisser.” 4 likes
More quotes…