Goodbye to All That

The title of Robert Graves’s 1929 autobiography, Goodbye to All That, it turns out in the Epilogue (1957), merely means that he had left England to live in Majorca.

I assumed it meant that the First World War had fixed a great gulf between life before and after it.

I’ve just read it again, and note here a few excerpts.

G.H. Rendall, the then Headmaster at Charterhouse, is reported to have innocently said at a Headmasters’ Conference: ‘My boys are amorous, but seldom erotic.’ … I agree with his Rendall’s distinction between ‘amorousness’ (by which he meant a sentimental falling in love with younger boys) and eroticism, or adolescent lust. The intimacy that frequently took place was very seldom between an elder boy and the object of his affection – that would have spoiled the romantic illlusion – but almost always between boys of the same age who were not in love, and used each other as convenient sex-instruments. So the atmosphere was always heavy with romance of a conventional early-Victorian type, complicated by cynicism and foulness. (Penguin, 39)

At least one in three of my generation at school died; because they all took commissions as soon as they could, most of them in the infantry and Royal Flying Corps. The average life expectancy of an infantry subaltern on the Western Front was, at some stages of the war, only about three months; by which time he had been either wounded or killed. The proportions worked out at about four wounded to every one killed. Of these four, one got wounded seriously, and the remaining three more or less lightly. The three lightly wounded returned to the front after a few weeks or months of absence, and again faced the same odds. Flying casualites were even higher. Since the war lasted for four and a half years, it is easy why most  of the survivors, if not permanently disabled, got wounded several times. (Penguin 54-55)

Professor Edgeworth, of All Souls’, avoided conversational English, persistently using words and phrases that one expects to meet only in books. One evening, [T.E.] Lawrence [of Arabia] returned from a visit to London, and Edgeworth met him at the gate. ‘Was it very caliginous in the Metropolis?’
‘Somewhat caliginous, but not altogether inspissated, ‘ Lawrence replied gravely. (Penguin, 246)

I photographed the photo of Robert Graves from the Penguin that was published in 1957, the revised edition of the book.