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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Unquiet Grave

Cyril Connolly
(writing as: Palinurus)

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Unquiet Grave

Title: The Unquiet Grave
Author: Cyril Connolly
Genre: Word Cycle
Written: 1944
Length: 138 pages
Availability: The Unquiet Grave - US
The Unquiet Grave - UK
The Unquiet Grave - Canada
Le tombeau de Palinure - France
Das ruhelose Grab - Deutschland

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Our Assessment:

A- : bizarre, but fascinating

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 7/11/1945 H.B.Charlton
The Nation . 20/10/1945 Margaret Marshall
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 24/2/2007 Werner von Koppenfels
The New Republic . 22/10/1945 George Mayberry
The NY Rev. of Books . 15/3/1984 V.S. Pritchett
The NY Times Book Rev. . 7/10/1945 Carlos Baker
The New Yorker . 27/10/1945 Edmund Wilson
TLS . 17/2/1945 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Das Ruhelose Grab -– Sudelbuch, journal intime, literaturkritische Standortbestimmung und aphoristische Anthologie in einem -- spiegelt die epochale Krise in der privaten. (...) Chris Hirtes elegante und präzise Neuübersetzung respektiert jetzt die Zweisprachigkeit und verbannt die deutsche Fassung der französischen Teile in seinen unentbehrlichen Kommentar zu diesem anspielungsreichen Buch." - Werner von Koppenfels, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

  • "Mr. Connolly (himself a skeptic and individualist) gravely and gaily comprehends his collection of epigrams, diagnoses, prognostications, impressions, nostalgias, and plain, old-fashioned complaints. The result is like nothing under the sun except, perhaps, a combination of Pascal's Pensées and Arnold Bennett's journal for the period of World War I." - Carlos Baker, The New York Times Book Review

  • "The honesty of his writing is the honesty of a man who describes with horrified disgust the symptoms of his disease. His disappointment is bitter, his self-hatred intense (.....) (T)he confession of a man whose individualism has turned to poison because he has not been true to it." - Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Published in 1944 in Horizon, under the pseudonym of Palinurus, Cyril Connolly's strange little book stands up remarkably well. A "war book", it is an odd amalgam from the notebooks that Connolly kept during those war years, filled with quotes and thoughts, centered around the figure of Palinurus, Aeneas' pilot, "the core of melancholy and guilt that works destruction on us from within." The fictional Palinurus' views and opinions are presented: he is an intellectual in the classic tradition, at sea in the war-torn world of 1944 Europe.
       The book begins strikingly: "the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and (...) no other task is of any consequence," the narrator opines. Connolly continues throughout in a similarly bold style. A world is fleshed out in this fill opinions and quotes -- eminent authority always at hand to support the odd and the interesting views presented. Connolly presents a remarkable picture of a particular slice of life at a particular historical time.
       The book is very well written, and its piecemeal presentation -- aphorisms, quotes, short digressions -- make it a marvelous book to dip into. A wealth of classical allusion, and extensive quotation particularly in the French make it something of a challenge, but it is worth the effort.
       Not for everyone -- the style is fairly prissy, the content emphatically "intellectual" (in all the good and bad senses of the word) -- but highly recommended.

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The Unquiet Grave: Cyril Connolly:
  • Profile by William Boyd in The Guardian
Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       British author Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) was educated at Eton and Oxford. Founder of the literary magazine Horizon, he also wrote for the New Statesman, the Observer, and the Sunday Times.

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