Pack My Bag: A Self-Portrait (Twentieth Century Classics)

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9780140187939: Pack My Bag: A Self-Portrait (Twentieth Century Classics)

A luminous autobiography by one of England's most original, delightful, writers.

In 1938 Henry Green, then thirty-three, dreaded the coming war and decided to "put down what comes to mind before one is killed." Pack My Bag was published in England in 1940. When he wrote it, Green had already published three of his nine novels and his style"a gathering web of insinuations"was fully developed.

Pack My Bag is a marvelously quirky, clear-eyed memoir: a mother who shot at mangle wurzels (turnips) bowled across the lawn for her by the servants; the stately home packed with wounded World War I soldiers; the miseries of Eton, oddities of Oxford, and work in the family factory—the making of a brilliantly original novelist. "We have inherited the greatest orchestra, the English language, to conduct," Green once wrote. "The means are there; things are going on in life all the time around us." His use of language and his account of things that went on in his life inform this delightful and idiosyncratic autobiography, which begins: "I was born a mouthbreather with a silver spoon."

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About the Author:

Henry Green (1905-1973), was the pen name of H. V. Yorke, a prominent British manufacturer. Among his books are Pack My Bag, Loving, Living, Party Going, Blindness, Doting, Nothing, and Back.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Green (Surviving, 1992, etc.) wrote this autobiography--one of the oddest and most beguiling in English--at age 33, in 1938, fully expecting WW II to annihilate him and everyone else in England. Provisionality in this strange, loopy, charming, quite beautiful memoir is therefore bred in the bone: everything will be only partially said and, what's more, only partially remembered. Partialness was Green's very aesthetic, and woven into this seemingly stunted account of a privileged growing-up of fox-hunting, upper-class-schools, Oxford, and first stabs at literature are some of the frankest expositions of his beliefs about how abstractly and humanely approximate writing ought to be (including the justly renowned: ``Prose should be a long intimacy between strangers with no direct appeal to what both have known''). Green's prose in this book can be so swerving and lovely that it captures two tones at once--first comedy, then absolute nailhead truth: ``Although I can remember hardly anything of what passed it was the first time I had experienced the release, the sense of constipation eased, which at that age frankness with a girl in no more than words can bring and this feeling next morning, with the guilt of clothes covered with scent, is a thing most people carry with them to the end of their lives.'' Published in England in 1940 but inexplicably unavailable in the US until now: one of the most remarkable and timeless of memoirs--a classic. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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