In PACK MY BAG, Henry Green chronicles his early life, providing a delightfully wayward and incisive portrait of English society and of the man himself.
From reminiscences of a childhood spent among the gentry, to searing descriptions of Eton and Oxford, to reflections on the author's first experiments with prose and with sex.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 176 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 07/09/2000
- Category: Biography: general
- ISBN: 9780099285076
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Review by yooperprof
"Anyone for writes what he remembers of his own time is in a difficulty with names, he has to decide whether he will mention the living, if he is to call them by their real names when he does mention them and, if he chooses to alter the names they are known by whether he will disguise the place it all happened to him, and so perhaps find himself writing fiction."Henry Green's memoir "Pack My Bag" (from 1939) certainly contains more than a few arid pages - entire arid chapters, actually! - but it was interesting to reflect upon Green's strategy in writing about his experiences. Really, it's the blogger's dilemma today as well: what to put in, what to leave out. Green had a priviledged life in the upper classes of early 20th century Britain, attended Eton and Oxford, and was acquainted with many interesting contemporaries such as Evelyn Waugh and Cecil Beaton, but his memoir doesn't mention any names or places and is vague to the point of distraction. And the world really doesn't need more whining about how awful English Public Schools used to be!Green turned into a successful (though artistic) novelist, not read much today, but nonetheless often included on "best of 20th century fiction" lists. (John Updike loved him.) However, Green turned his back upon "le beau monde" and worked in his family's Midlands factory for most of his adult life. The autobiography does give some interesting reflections upon the working classes: similar to George Orwell's, though not as detailed. But I wouldn't use this book in a class - to much questionable prose, written with Green's highly idiosyncratic (peculiar) grammar. I do like some of his sentences though, they express "Englishness" very well in spite of the odd style:"Surely shyness is the saving grace in all relationships, the not speaking out, not sharing confidences, the avoidance of intimacy in important things which makes living, if you can find friends to play that way, of so much greater interest even if it does involve a lot of lying."