PACK MY BAG by Henry Green


A Self Portrait
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 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.

Pub Date: May 28th, 1993
ISBN: 0-8112-1234-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: New Directions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993


FictionCAUGHT  by Henry Green
by Henry Green
FictionBACK by Henry Green
by Henry Green
NonfictionSURVIVING by Henry Green
by Henry Green