Graves’s account of his experiences in World War I are horrifyingly memorable. Goodbye to All That is generally recognized as one of the most successful portrayals of the transience of life and the imminence of death to come out of World War I. Many of the battle incidents are overwhelming in their graphic detail, and of all the prose writings on the war, Graves’s work is probably the most accessible to the reader. One feels as if one is actually in the trenches of no-man’s-land. Some critics have even argued that the work is a totally authentic record of the author’s personal experiences and observations. That kind of claim to completely objective reporting cannot be substantiated, however, and Graves himself hinted as much. In his autobiography he reports conversations and comments supposedly made during the clash of battle in a book written more than ten years after the events described. Graves noted elsewhere that war memoirs are not of the same historical completeness and objectivity as some other types of military history, that the author often cannot in the heat of war keep an accurate account of all that befell him. Nevertheless, he still included extensive conversations and dialogues as if he were merely giving the words as originally uttered. Graves’s work was not merely objective history because he lacked the written record of such conversations or because he no longer remembered word-for-word what had been said in the trenches. More...
(The entire section is 1174 words.)
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