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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  245 ratings  ·  37 reviews
One-legged Charley Summers is finally home from the war, after several years in a German prison camp, only to find he must now deal with the death of his lover Rose. A shell-shocked romantic—slow, distant, and dreamy—he begins to have trouble telling Rose's half-sister Nancy apart from Rose herself, now buried in the village churchyard. Coping and failing to cope with the ...more
Paperback, 218 pages
Published March 12th 1981 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1946)
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After having been temporarily Caught in the maelstrom of Russian 19th century literature, I am now BACK in the world of Henry Green, the painter of low key, everyday worries of ordinary English people Living and Loving in the extraordinary times before, during and after the Second World War.

Looking BACK on this pearl of a novel, it strikes me that the title Loss, or maybe rather Blindness would have suited the concept well. But then I change my mind, pondering BACK and forth, and fina
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of those books that reveals itself only once you've finally put it down, but this was well worth the effort I reckon. I'm a fool for this era of British novels and films, and Green captures that sense of dislocation of wartime Britain with a narrative that balances a light touch with an unspoken but always present horror. It felt at times a bit disjointed, but eventually I came to see that as reflecting Charley's own condition; shellshocked, grief-stricken, thrown back into civilian life and ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The one word title suggests a lot: what to make of a man who has lost something in war and, back, finds he has lost something at home? The former is his leg; the latter is his girl, Rose. Both gone.

The plot - what happens upon his return - is actually quite interesting. And I won't spoil it here. But that deeper meaning eluded me.

Perhaps that's because I couldn't get into the 18th century story within the story that intrudes just past the midway. That may have explained things. But I glazed over
Doug H
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. It continued to grow on me for days after I finished it and it ruined anything I tried to read immediately after it.
Michalle Gould
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is such an exceptional book, beautifully strange and challenging and yet totally accessible at the same time. It seems to be happening as you are reading it because the writing is so simultaneously perfect and yet also natural and ever-changing. There are sentences composed with such grace and originality that I kept having to close the book and look away and let them ripple in my mind like water disturbed by a stone.

This book will not be for everyone, but it is sort of like a combination
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss.

The premise of this Green novel is deceptively simple: Charley Summer, recently released from a POW camp in Germany during World War II, is repatriated back into England. Although Charley suffers from a severed leg for which he must wear a prosthesis, his greatest source of pain is the love that he lost while he was in that German prison camp. Rose, a woman with whom he was having a passionate love affair, dies from an illness before Charley is
Aug 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Henry Green's Back belongs with Patrick Hamilton's books and others on the "English boarding-house novels" shelf, though not as bleak as Hamilton or Julian Maclaren-Ross. The "back" of the title is "from the Second World War", to a mid-40s England which is economically and emotionally equally straitened. For all that, this book has a transcendently joyful quality (within a somewhat narrow definition of joy) and I tore through it one day.
The jackets of all recent editions of Green's work are fes
Katherine  Rose
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So poignantly beautiful, so much tragedy so calmly depicted. I found George Toles' critique in the back of the book particularly illuminating, putting into words a few of the novel's sensations that I couldn't place myself.
" Pain insinuates itself into every corner of the unfolding rural landscape, yet it is a soft pain, a pain nestled in softness. It is as though the reader were treading backward through the setting, mildly anxious, trying to be silent, over ground that leaves a squishing impri
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Maybe you're a fan of Henry Green. NYRB is pub'ing three of his this fall ::
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Henry Green I love you.
Dec 20, 2008 marked it as to-read
I wrote a commentary about the opening passage of this book and I've been intrigued (read: obsessed) by it ever since. The boy is the pirate's son!
3* Loving
TR Living
TR Party Going
TR Back
TR Caught
Gabriel Congdon
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Another book Gaddis rated ‘I want my money’, it’s like Gaddis has never heard of a library.)


How great is that Deb intro!? Ugh, I just love her writing in any form. I read instruction on how to put to together a deck if the manual were written in Eisenberg. Has everybody signed the petition? I got a petition going on my review of Under the 82nd where we’re going to get a petition to petition Deb to start churning out the work. So be sure to sign it if you're new.

May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fate is fickle. From all accounts Henry Green should be a name as well-known as George Orwell and yet, yesterday, when my wife asked me what I was reading and I said, “Back by Henry Green,” her response was, “Never heard of him,” but then neither had I a few days earlier. If you’ve also never heard of him then you might want to peruse this article in The Atlantic; it would’ve piqued my curiosity if I hadn’t stumbled across Back by other means.

The story here is straightforward enough. Charley Sum
Daniel Polansky
A soldier returns from WWII, becomes obsessed with the half-sister of his dead wife, sort of loses his mind, sort of gets it back. I complained that the other two novels I read by Green – Loving and Doting – were masterfully written but too narrow. Here I couldn’t help but feel the opposite. There is some fabulous language – the first few chapters, which are more impressionistic, even experimental, are very strong – but the narrative is rather shaggy, and didn’t exactly pull together for me.
Breeann Kirby
Aug 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Great novel that disorients the reader because he or she is given as much (or as little) information as the rest of the characters. All motivations are unclear because much of the text is left to dialog without any cues as to what the characters are thinking. Also, I love that the main character's deepest source of loss is the one thing he can't legitimately claim as his: another man's deceased wife.
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a strange book about coming home from the war, but then again any book about how it is like to do that would have it's strange aspects. I had to keep reminding myself it was written recently because it had a feel like current trends in writing. It did bother me that the main character was so slow in his ability to know what is going on, -but that is the real aspect.
Jorian Kriskovic
I almost gave up on this one but I'm glad I didn't.
Starts off a little dijointed and unsure, although I suppose that was probably Green's intent.
'Back' really started to pull things together just past the halfway mark, at which point I couldnt put it down. Mr Green's writing is beautifully poetic and feather light; the story had me hopelessly smiling to the end, smitten and dreamy.
May 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really don't know what to make of this book (really a novella). My dad bought it for me as a Christmas gift and I just got around to reading it. I'll have to ask him why he picked it out for me. Strange little story that kept me reading till the end. Looking back on it, I think I liked it?
Connor Wallace
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
I found it quite boring, and the prose style unenjoyable.
Tyler Foster
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I relate to the main character like no book I’ve ever read before. I really enjoyed this book and Henry Green’s writing style. A very easy and great read.
"Back", is a novel written by Henry Green in 1946. I find it fascinating that after writing nine novels all between the years of 1926 and 1952, he stopped writing at the age of forty-seven. He told an interviewer, "I find it so exhausting now I simply can't do it any more," yet he lived after he stopped writing for over twenty years. He refused even to leave his London house for the last seven years of his life. But now to the story.

"Back" tells the story of Charley Summers, a young Englishman w
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
After having been really taken with The Love-charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War, a biography of a group of WWII authors who included Henry Green, I was eager to give his work a try. This tells the story of a man who is repatriated during the war after several years in a German prisoner of war camp and the loss of a leg. Rose, the woman he was in love with has died, and Charley experiences a sense of dislocation and bewilderment, lost among the thickets of relationships that e ...more
Rachel Brand
May 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: en4413, own, wwii, 2011
Read for EN4413: Reading the 1940s, 2011-2012.

Out of all the books I've read so far for my EN4413 module, Reading the 1940s, this is definitely the one I enjoyed least. I was wavering between a 5/10 or a 6/10 for this as, while it was very easy to read, my interest in it waned about half way through the book. I was intrigued by the premise of Charley being paranoid and convinced that Nancy was Rose and that everyone was conspiring against him, but after he seemed to regain his senses the book w
Aug 18, 2009 rated it liked it
My first shot at a Henry Green book. I liked it. It's hard to blame his protagonist for being so clueless; in fact, it's too be expected since he's just back from service in WWII where he lost a leg and was in prison camp. Green takes us right inside his head, but there's so much cotton in there it's hard to really see what's going on. I guess that's the point. Anyway, it's a sensitive portrayal of a traumatized, naive young Britisher.
I'm motivated now to go on and try what seems to be his mos
Laura M.
May 09, 2009 rated it liked it
This did not feel like typical Green, and it took me a while to get into, though I was starting to love it a little by the end. Even the name--one of his few non-gerund titles. In a way, it almost seemed like a savage parody of his own style--the few characteristic, awkwardly beautiful phrases were very close to being overwrought, though their feeling deliberately so, to represent Charley Summers' strained perspective, mitigated that somewhat.
Cooper Renner
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Closer to five stars than four. A very nimble, swiftly moving, tricky kind of novel. Set in the last year or so of World War II, in England. The characters are often surprising, just as "real people" are, saying something you don't expect, saying exactly the opposite of what they are thinking, continually keeping you from quite pinning them down. This is my first Henry Green novel, and it's quite a good one.
Christoph Fischer
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Back" by Henry Green is a well written and impressive story about a man returning from World War II to find his love Rose dead. He is lame due to an injury in the war and has a hard time accepting normality back in the UK.
Thematically this is well done but the book was recommended to me for its style, mainly written in dialogue form. For me that did not work as well as it does for other readers, including John Updike.
Joseph Schreiber
I liked this book for a while, but it overstayed its welcome and halfway through I abandoned it. This is about me and a sort of mid-century British and American modernism. I know many who greatly admire Green and 15-20 years ago I probably would have felt the same. Three stars—not a bad book, just not for me.
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written! I personally think this is Henry Green's best novel! If you liked Rebecca West's 'The Return Of The Soldier', Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs Dalloway' or Erich maria Remarque's 'Der Schwarze Obelisk' for their depiction of war-trauma/shell-shock and relationships, you will love 'Back'.
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NYRB Classics: Back, by Henry Green 8 53 Oct 29, 2016 08:06AM  
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Henry Green was the nom de plume of Henry Vincent Yorke.

Green was born near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, into an educated family with successful business interests. His father Vincent Wodehouse Yorke, the son of John Reginald Yorke and Sophia Matilda de Tuyll de Serooskerken, was a wealthy landowner and industrialist in Birmingham. His mother, Hon. Maud Evelyn Wyndham, was daughter of the second B