Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Memoirs, Then and Now: Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves

It seems inexplicable that Lena Dunham (NSFW) should pop into my head while I was reading this book. But she did; and here's why. 

Goodbye to All That is a memoir, and it was published in 1929 when Robert Graves was 33. Much of the book details his experiences in the trenches in France, where he rose rapidly to the rank of Captain and was subsequently so badly wounded that, at the Battle of the Somme, his commanding officer dispatched a letter informing his family he was dead. After recuperating, he went back to France, fell ill, and returned home to serve in Britain, where he remained, suffering from nerves, until being decommissioned after the armistice. His descriptions of fighting in WWI are among some of the best ever written. He was a fine poet, and went on to publish a string of books, including the compelling and critically acclaimed I, Claudius.

Lena Dunham published her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, in 2014 when she was 28. Random House paid her $3.5 million, mainly on the back of a television series titled Girls, which followed the lives of four young women living in New York. Besides a false claim of being raped by a fellow student at college (requiring the publisher to remove the student’s pseudonym in later editions), Dunham’s book is remembered by many for her reminiscences of stuffing pebbles into her younger sister’s vagina. Dunham reportedly takes a low dose of an antidepressant to relieve anxiety.

Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

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