Read The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus by Cyril Connolly Online


Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) was one of the most influential book reviewers and critics in England, contributing regularly to The New Statesmen, The Observer, and The Sunday Times. His essays have been collected in book form and published to wide acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. The Unquiet Grave is considered by many to be his most enduring work. It is a highly personCyril Connolly (1903-1974) was one of the most influential book reviewers and critics in England, contributing regularly to The New Statesmen, The Observer, and The Sunday Times. His essays have been collected in book form and published to wide acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. The Unquiet Grave is considered by many to be his most enduring work. It is a highly personal journal written during the devastation of World War II, filled with reflective passages that deal with aging, the break-up of a long term relationship, and the horrors of the war around him. It is also a wonderfully varied intellectual feast: a collection of aphorisms, epigrams, and quotations from such masters of European literature as Horace, Baudelaire, Sainte-Beuve, Flaubert, and Goethe. Dazzlingly original in both form and content, The Unquiet Grave has continued to influence generations of writers....

Title : The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
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ISBN : 9780892550586
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 160 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus Reviews

  • Perry
    2018-08-21 23:50

    Hemingway said of this book, it is one which, no matter how many readers it will ever have, will never have enoughI found this treasure a few years back after reading a NYT interview with Donna Tartt in conjunction with the publication of The Goldfinch. She cited The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus as a go-to book.The Unquiet Grave by Cyril Connolly (1903-74), an English critic prominent around the time of WWII, is a "word cycle," but primarily it's Mr. Connolly's journal written during the devastation of WWII and it's filled with his reflections on society, aging, the breakup of his marriage and the war. It's a collection of aphorisms, epigrams and quotations from masters of European lit.I wholeheartedly concur with Ernest Hemingway's description. Each time I open this little book, I find something new to contemplate, some new comprehension of the world around me.A few of the gems herein:Most people do not believe in anything very much and our greatest poetry is given to us by those that is made by the alone for the alone… The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication...______The man who is master of his passions is Reason's slave.______"In the sex-war thoughtlessness is the weapon of the male, vindictiveness of the female. Both are reciprocally generated, but a woman's desire for revenge outlasts all other emotion.`And their revenge is as the tiger's spring,Deadly, and quick, and crushing; yet as realTorture is theirs, what they inflict they fell.'When every unkind word about women has been said, we still have to admit, with Byron, that they are nicer than men. They are more devoted, more unselfish and more emotionally sincere. When the long fuse of cruelty, deceit and revenge is set alight, it is male thoughtlessness which has fired it."______________________"There is no pain equal to that which two lovers can inflict on one another. This should be made clear to all who contemplate such a union. The avoidance of this pain is the beginning of wisdom, for it is strong enough to contaminate the rest of our lives; and since it can be minimized by obeying a few simple rules, rules which approximate to Christian marriage, they provide, even to the unbeliever, its de facto justification. It is when we begin to hurt those whom we love that the guilt with which we are born becomes intolerable, and since all those whom we love intensely and continuously grow part of us, and as we hate ourselves in them, so we torture ourselves and them together."_____"A love affair is a grafting operation. 'What has once been joined, never forgets.' There is a moment when the graft takes; up to then is possible, without difficulty, the separation which afterwards comes only through breaking off a great hunk of oneself, the ingrown fibre of hours, days, years."_____"There is no hate without fear. Hate is crystallized fear, fear's dividend, fear objectivized. We hate what we fear and so where hate is, fear will be lurking. Thus we hate what threatens our person, our liberty, our privacy, our income, our popularity, our vanity and our dreams and plans for ourselves. If we can isolate this element in what we hate we may be able to cease from hating."\_____All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others.______The one way to get thin is to re-establish a purpose in life.**********A MUST for any thinker's library.

  • Carl
    2018-09-02 02:33

    Cyril Connolly adopts the pseudonym 'Palinurus' (the Pilot) for this key book. It is a key book in the sense that it introduces the reader to myriad other authors and books, many of them classical. Connolly is easy to Google so I won't waste time reciting his CV.It's a good book to read before committing suicide. It may confirm you in your choice but, conversely, may prompt you to say 'ah fuck it' I'll hang on for another day or two'.Also a good book to read if one has recently parted from a lover but remains filled with desire - or, perhaps, if one is simply wallowing in anomie as can happen when too many drizzly days follow each other without a single passionate storm.I reread this every 5/10 years or so.

  • R.G. Evans
    2018-09-15 19:49

    On November 7, 1940, the deck of Washington’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed in high winds and fell into Puget Sound. Engineers identified the reason as elementary resonance: the relentless winds created a frequency which matched the frequency of the bridge itself, thus creating vibrations which brought about the bridge’s structural failure. The well-documented image of this bridge collapse—or more precisely its cause: elementary resonance—kept recurring to me as I read The Unquiet Grave. Only twice before can I remember books which seemed to speak to me on such a direct and elemental level, a level beyond the words and ideas themselves. Once such experience was reading Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire as I traveled through the Southwest in 2004. Another was one remarkable Christmas Eve when I first read Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and realized that I had lived my entire life just for the experience of reading that play. The Unquiet Grave is another such book, in which the intensity of my experience is echoed by Cyril Connolly himself when he writes, “Intense emotion, a mixture of relief and despair, at reading Saint-Beuve’s notebook Mes Poisons, and discovering ‘This is me’” (pp. 58-59).Culled from notebooks Connolly kept documenting his despair over the dissolution of his marriage, the Second World War, and the way the war had cut him off from his beloved Paris, The Unquiet Grave is as resonant a portrayal of one man’s emotional collapse as I have ever read in literature. Written in a highly quotable epigrammatic style (I found myself with pen in hand, busily underlining the whole time I read), the book is subtitled “A Word Cycle by Palinurus,” the pilot and helmsman of Aeneas who fell overboard and was killed upon reaching land. Interspersed throughout are passages in French (which I’m eagerly awaiting help in translating) by Saint-Beuve, Flaubert and others, as well as passages from Horace, Virgil and other classical writers which seem to share Connolly/Palinurus’s hope-turned-to-despair over the state of his passage through the world (“Forty—sombre anniversary to the hedonist—in seekers after truth like Buddha, Mahomet, Mencius, St. Ignatius, the turning-point of their lives” (p. 15).This slim volume (142 pages, including index) riveted me throughout its first two sections, “Ecce Gubernator” (“Behold the Pilot”) and “Te Palunure Petens” (“Looking for You, Palinurus”), but I have to admit my level of concentration waned in the last two sections “La Cle Des Chants” (“The Key to the Songs”), in which Connolly’s writing becomes particularly solipsistic, relating, among other things, the deaths of two beloved lemurs he apparently kept as pets, and “Who Was Palinurus?”, an examination of the passages from the Aeneid which present the story of Palunurus himself. I feel richer for having read The Unquiet Grave, however, a statement I haven’t made about a book in some time, as if a voice had spoken over the decades to me alone, in a frequency that caused my elemental self to vibrate sympathetically, validating my own experience and allowing me to answer the only way I can: “This is me.”

  • Dan
    2018-09-20 18:38

    This was a cult classic in the 1950s, but now it's hard to see what all the fuss was about. Connolly was known as a brilliant and talented writer who didn't write much, wasting much of his life with alternate bouts of hedonism and regret. I can can see the waste -- he's nothing if not brutally honest about himself -- but the talent is overrated. There are some zingy aphorisms and melancholy insights, but unless pages of self-flagellation and untranslated quotes from French and Latin authors floats your boat, you can safely leave this grave unopened.

  • Eric
    2018-08-25 01:59

    A bit dated, a bit silly, but for all that an interesting specimen of the English Man of Letters. His prognostications are less absorbing than his eliptical and impressionistic descriptions of travels through France ("darker wines at the inns, deeper beds.") And I didn't know he was so into lemurs.

  • Diane
    2018-08-21 21:01

    Donna Tartt said in a New York Times interview that this is one of her favorite books: "I've loved it since I was a teenager and like always to have it to hand; when I lived in France, years ago, it was one of only six books I carried with me."

  • Douglas Dalrymple
    2018-09-17 00:37

    Connolly made his name as a critic and so when he opens his book with the statement that “the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and no other task is of any consequence,” it serves both as a jab at fashionable contemporaries and an announcement of his intention to make his own “assault on perfection.” The book was written during WWII and is part journal, part commonplace book, and part philosophical essay. There are lengthy quotations from French authors which, unfortunately, I was usually unable to decipher without help, but Connolly’s own prose is engrossing, his ideas engaging. He was exorcising some personal demons here: his marriage was falling apart at the same time the world around him was falling apart, and the general sense of catastrophe is strong. The Unquiet Grave may not be quite the masterpiece Connolly hoped for, and I can’t endorse certain of his Freudian obsessions and conclusions. Nonetheless, the book is highly quotable, bright if only with a fractured light, and in the end it makes a powerful meditation on the significance of love and of art and of being human in a world that is often short on all three.

  • Vince Potenza
    2018-09-07 00:39

    I can't think of a single way in which this book is not remarkable. Part memoir, part philosophical treatise, part literary criticism; written in varying styles: from the epigrammatic, reminiscent of Thoreau in Walden, to the expansive, luxurious novelistic narrative. I only give it four stars because 10 to 15 percent of it is in French – usually a quote from a famous author – and untranslated. This is excruciatingly frustrating, considering the rest of the book: you just KNOW you’re missing out on something wonderful. Somebody should publish an edition where the French is translated in footnotes, as almost all the Latin is in this edition. Yes, there’s Latin: Palinurus was the pilot of Aeneas’s ship in Virgil’s epic poem, The Aeneid. I won’t say any more, lest I spoil things ….

  • Pam
    2018-09-10 22:43

    Writers, such as Cyril Connolly, do not appear to be popular anymore. This is not a continuous prose work but more jottings of thoughts, musings etc. I found the work to be full of wisdom but also a little sad that it reflected an old soul tired of the world.

  • Mark
    2018-08-30 00:55

    I enjoyed this book well enough, but it's structured in far too aimless a fashion to have provided me with a sustained, narrative theme--despite the author's intentions. Written during World War II, The Unquiet Grave is Cyril Connolly's midlife crisis in book form. Having recently turned 40, he reflects on his divorce and the chaotic state of the world through random collections of his own thoughts and quotations by others (mostly from Flaubert, De Quincey, and Pascal). It's unfortunate that the edition I read did not include translations of the copious French quotations, since I had to skip those (and they account for a surprisingly large number of pages in the book overall). Even so, the book is alternately beautiful and profound, and I marked dozens of passages as I read through it.

  • Maurizio Manco
    2018-09-16 22:54

    "Oggi sono piuttosto sicuro, pur essendo consapevole che tutto è estremamente insicuro, che non ho in mano nulla, che si tratta soltanto di un allettamento, allettamento che pur essendo esercitato di continuo e inesauribilmente, è tutto ciò che mi resta dell’esistenza, e oggi tutto quanto mi è piuttosto indifferente, per cui io, in questo gioco nel quale si può soltanto perdere, ho vinto in ogni caso l’ultima partita." (pp. 118, 119)

  • vi macdonald
    2018-09-13 18:47

    4.5Anybody else getting some Book of Disquiet vibes here?Not saying that's a bad thing (BoD is my favourite book of all time), but like, I can't help but wonder if I'd have loved this more wholeheartedly if I hadn't already fallen in love with something that feels quite similar.

  • Paul
    2018-08-26 19:45

    Someone needs to go back in time and tell Cyril that his publisher accidentally released his pretentious teenage diary entries instead of an actual book.

  • Alan Fricker
    2018-08-27 19:42

    I can read the French and it didn't make the difference for me. some edifying quotes and some neat observations are not enough to save the rest

  • Margaret Adams
    2018-08-31 00:40

    Once I started Connolly's "The Unquiet Grave" I had to finish it. The author's declarative air leaves no conceptual oxygen for anything else to breathe while you're reading it. It helps that his declarations are interesting, disquieting, encouraging of debate even as they emanate authority. Books are the only art with doing! Women are cruel and unusual but also nicer than men! Life is shit! We're all doomed! Everything is a dangerous drug except reality, which is unendurable! I'm in the habit of using my phone to take photos of book pages with quotes or passages that are intriguing to me, especially when it's a borrowed book and I don't want to underline; I snapped photos of a third of the pages in this book before finishing it off in two sittings. I'm still digesting what I read, but a few immediate takeaways: 1) this guy, either by era or by nature, has never fallen prey to the ubiquity of "seems," and 2) a third of the way into the book I kept thinking I would like to find Connolly's wife, buy her a stiff drink, then sit back and let the tape recorder roll.

  • Wes Hazard
    2018-09-10 21:45

    "Writers engrossed in any literary task which is not an assault on perfection are their own dupes and, unless these self-flatterers are content to dismiss such activity as their contribution to the war effort, they might as well be peeling potatoes." --PalinurusSimply Amazing. I'll write my thoughts on this in the style of the book itself, that is fragmented, desultory, personal.--I love books written in this style. Addressing whatever comes to the mind of the author/narrator with a little bit to say about damn near everything and a lot to say about some really important stuff. Sections and fragments flow freely from one to the next without ever feeling jarring or tossed-off, the length of each determined only by how much the writer has to say about whatever subject is at hand. This style is much like that used by David Shields in Reality Hunger (in which he references this book with the highest praise), except that these sketches and fragments are all original material by Palinurus (Cyril Connolly)."Ennui is the condition of not fulfilling our potentialities; remorse of not having fulfilled them; anxiety of not being able to fulfill them, -- but what are they?"--Infused with a deep intelligence and a distinctly powerful ability to observe & analyze, but also infused with a heavy dose of world-weariness, disappointment and self-reproach, but it never comes off as whiny or needlessly bitter."Those who are consumed with curiosity about other people but who do not love them should write maxims, for no one can become a novelist unless he love his fellow-men."--Be Warned: If you crack open the 1967 Penguin Books edition like I did, 7-10% of this is written in French with NO TRANSLATION. I get it. This is a book written in 1944 by a highly refined product of Oxbridge liberal arts schooling, for other Oxbridge-type readers, all of whom would have, as a matter of course, been instructed in French, Latin, Greek (and probably Italian & German too) since their first days in school. Connolly slips in and out of it because it's natural to him and he likes to quote French aphorists at length in the original. But given I was reading a mass market paperback edition from the Summer of Love it was a bit infuriating to be shut out of so much of the text. I loved this book so much I'll probably end up buying it (I read a library copy) but only if the latest edition (which I believe came out in the last 10 yrs) has the goddamned foresight to at least throw me a bone with some footnote translations."Words today are like the shells and rope of seaweed which a child brings home glistening from the beach and which in an hour have lost their lustre."

  • Nancy
    2018-09-06 23:38

    I bought this in England back in 1976; just reread it. Prose that is as distilled as poetry. on love: "The first signs of a mutual attraction will induce even the inconsolable to live in the present."on why ascetism and chastity are the wrong goals in life: "If our elaborate and dominating bodies are given us to be denied at every turn, if our nature is always wrong and wicket, how ineffectual we are--like fishes not meant to swim." on friendship: "How many people drop in on us? That is the criterion of friendship." The mystery of drugs: "How did savages all over the world, in every climate, discover in frozen tundras or remote jungles the one plant, often similar to countless others of the same species, which could, if only by a very elaborate process, give them fantasies, intoxication, freedom from care? How unless by help from the plants themselves?...What grape, to keep its place in the sun, taught our ancestors to make wine?"His "religion": "In my religion all believers would stop work at sundown and have a drink together 'pour chasser la honte du jour.' This would be taken in remembrance of the first sunset when man must have thought the oncoming night would prove eternal... Hence the institution of my "sundowner" with which all believers...would render holy that moment of nostalgia and evening apprehension. ... Life would be sacred, because it is all we have, and death, our common denominator, the fountain of consideration."And one I've never forgotten, on marriage: "The greatest charm of marriage, in fact that which renders it irresistible to those who have once tasted it, is the duologue, the permanent conversation between two people which talks over everything and everyone till death breaks the record."

  • Helen Harvey
    2018-08-22 22:58

    Melancholy rambles which relate to my own feelings and experiences. Particularly useful around this time in my life - Connolly has a good grasp on human emotions. Will remain on my bookshelf to refer to later on in life. Oh and one day, i'll translate the quotations.

  • Jim
    2018-08-26 02:59

    “I obtained a copy of The Unquiet Grave through inter-library loan. The copy I read was published in 1945. Unfortunately, in this edition, many of the aphorisms, epigrams, and quotes that Connolly cites are not translated into English, which is quite frustrating unless the reader is fluent in French, which I’m not. For example, all of Blaise Pascal’s quotes are in French, with no foot-noted translation and therefore no context.Nevertheless, it’s worth reading, as the following excerpts demonstrate:“Leaving Bellac after crossing for two days the plains of the sandy Loire, we enter the Bocage Limousine, traverse a country of tall tree-hedges blueing into the pale spring sky, and reach the first hills, the Blond mountains, and the forest beginnings of the Chataigneraie. A new strip of maps and the sun always warmer; mountain nights in stone buildings, melted snow in the running water, darker wine in the inns, deeper beds.”“In my beginning is my end. As the acorn contains the oak or the folded kenal of the Spanish chestnut implies the great split bole and serrated leaf of the full-grown tree, so each human being possesses the form appropriate to him which time will bring out and ripen.”One Amazon reader really captures the book’s essence when he describes The Unquiet Grave as “a kind of autobiography, fragmentary, impressionistic and non-historic... more an autobiography of taste or sensibility than of a whole person.”

  • Pedro L. Fragoso
    2018-09-15 00:57

    I belong to the group that arrived to this book via Donna Tartt's NYT By the Book recommendation upon the publication of "The Goldfinch". I'd say this book is especially relevant for writers.Lots of wisdom in here. Some favourites."Doing is overrated and success undesirable, but even more so the bitterness of failure.""There is no pain equal to that which two lovers can inflict on one another. This should be made clear to all who contemplate such a union.""Complete physical union between two people is the rarest sensation which life can provide—and yet not quite real, for it stops when the telephone rings.""When I contemplate the accumulation of guilt and remorse which, like a garbage-can, I carry through life, and which is fed not only by the lightest action but by the most harmless pleasure, I feel Man to be of all living things the most biologically incompetent and ill-organized."There is actually, much, much more.

  • Simon
    2018-09-17 22:39

    An extraordinary journey through melancholy, depression, call it what you will, by someone who not only understands it deeply from personal experience but is actually suffering (or should I rather say experiencing...Connolly would be the first to say that it can be life enhancing as well as frighteningly bleak) at the time he writes the book. The knowing and the understanding is what makes it a good book. The eloquence and depth of learning gives it grace and an extra degree or two of difficulty. It's a subject matter that attracts writers and film-makers who, all too often, steer a wayward course. Melancholics, manic-depressives, bi-polar disorder sufferers etc will recognise that this author is a good pilot. He knows of which he speaks. And he speaks well.

  • Jeanne
    2018-09-10 01:31

    This is not an easy read, but one well worth the effort. Sometimes annoyingly allusive and elusive--but as a literary window onto one man's painful journey filtered through a lens of literature, it is fabulous. There are passages that annoyed me--I'm not sure I'd like to have dinner with Connolly--he would have preferred Horace's company (and I'm pretty sure neither of them would want to have dinner with me!)Connolly's interpretation of Palinurus says as much about Connolly as Palinurus but is full of insight and material for rethinking. The book also draws a literary family tree of like-minded writers (e.g. Horace, Flaubert) in whose lineage Connolly portrays himself.

  • Fernando Jimenez
    2018-09-07 23:39

    Cuaderno de notas que pareciera personal sino fuera porque el proceso de ordenación y edición de los fragmentos de los que se compone llevó a su autor un tiempo para componer un plan: una confesión que es una catarsis, un lamento por lo perdido y a la vez, un frío análisis de cómo mejorar como persona y como artista a partir de estas reflexiones, la variedad y densidad de temas que aparecen en este libro hacen que sea imposible resumirlo. Basta con dejarse llevar, identificarse con aquellos que preferimos y reflexionar, como pedía Connolly con la serenidad de los clásicos como él mismo para nosotros.

  • Nick Duretta
    2018-08-22 19:57

    This seemingly random collection of observations, quotations and epigrams was written during WWII and therefore has a gloomy veneer. It's very dense and challenging read, even though it's a scant 130 or so pages. And be warned--a lot of the book is in French. Connolly's comments on the lessons of past and current history are interesting, and the writing is superb, but this is not a book for everyone.

  • Lucas Miller
    2018-09-19 20:32

    Adolescent, bitter, whimsical, and obsessed with France. The untranslated French does end up becoming burdensome, but it fits the overall attitude of the author. He's not writing for people who can't read French. My five stars have more to do with the intent and form than with the actual content. Unlikely to read it again, I still love Hemingway's assessment, a book that no matter how many readers it has, will never have enough readers.

  • June Geiger
    2018-09-03 19:44

    Deliciously disjointed ramblings meander sometimes merrily, more times morosely around quotes from the masters, and the incognito author's own masterful quips about everything from Flaubert to Freudians to flowers to, my personal favorite, ferrets. An absolute joy, though tedious if taken in huge doses; I administered heavy highlighting for this book I'll always be reading.

  • Melusina
    2018-09-15 02:53

    "Everything is a dangerous drug to me except reality, which is unendurable.""While thoughts exist, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living."Quotes like this can only deserve 5 stars. An excellent, devastatingly sad little collection of thoughts and quotes.

  • Uwe Hook
    2018-09-05 20:54

    The writer Cyril Connolly states in this book that if an author wishes to write a book that lasts a thousand years, then they must learn to use invisible ink. In the first paragraph he also comments that the only objective of a writer is to produce a masterpiece, and no other task is of any consequence. In this book he achieved both.

  • Kitty
    2018-08-27 01:37

    This is essentially a series of philosophical musings, quotations, and memories. It is melancholic, nostalgic, erudite and asks incisive questions about human behaviour which are particularly interesting in view of the context of the second world war during which it was written. It is both highly personal and philosophically detached. NB: Knowledge of French required.

  • Talbot Hook
    2018-09-07 20:32

    He and I, on certain things, are very much of one mind. It is refreshing to read my own opinions and feelings, but in the script and style of another; it focuses my own thoughts, forces a second opinion, and clarifies that which needs to be clarified. Many passages were striking in their beauty and brevity, being both pithy and cogent. A much-appreciated little book.