Influential cultural critic Clive James about his latest book, Cultural Amnesia, a hundred short essays on 20th-century thinkers, villains, and heroes. Thirty years ago when my journalism took me often to London, the first thing I did was buy the observer newspaper for the latest television review by Clive James. He was the talk of the town. Everyone wanted to know what Clive James thought about what they were watching. Pretty soon he was on TV himself, writing and presenting studio series and specials on politics and the arts. And people still want to know what he thinks…they filled the hall at his recent visit to the New York Public Library.
Clive gets his brains out
Essays: Telegraph TV Review Columns Index | lamirada.info
The late literary critic embodied the best of his profession, and proved that books can furnish a life. W hen a great writer dies, we turn to our bookshelves not only for a reminder of what has been lost but also of what will endure: the words, phrases, and sentences that made up a life. Ever a student at heart, he gave the impression that literary criticism at its core was an enlightened process of discovery and recommendation. He liked to say that he was most himself when writing about others. This may be because the tendency toward theatricality in his prose—a hangover from his youthful days in s London competing with friends like Martin Amis and Ian Hamilton—is more subdued when he is writing in the service of literature. He is a presence on the page, most signally in his inimitable turns of phrase and comic hyperbole.
I used to be politically fastidious and to take politics very seriously. Like many American readers of my generation, I barely knew who Clive James was when Cultural Amnesia was published in All that and a blurb from J.