Clive James's Cultural Amnesia is noteworthy marginalia, says Robert McCrum. Cultural Amnesia has ratings and reviews. Kris said: Clive James' massive tome Cultural Amnesia was a great disappointment to me. The format is. A review, and links to other information about and reviews of Cultural Amnesia by Clive James.


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After stating that "Brecht's fame as a creep will prevail, as it ought to" he adds: Brecht's fame as a poet will depend on a wide appreciation of what he could do with language, and there lies the drawback: Cultural amnesia clive james are faced, that is, with what he did not do with language. Speaking and standing up -- and for the right thing -- is what counts for James.

Nothing is more honourable, nothing 'better' in the absolute sense of the world than selfless commitment to the ideals of the cultural amnesia clive james as it should be.

So he not only pays tribute to Sophie Scholl but dedicates the book to her memory along with three others -- and it's one of the few portraits where he really gets carried away, for example quoting without cultural amnesia clive james that: But even this sort cultural amnesia clive james ideal-worship comes with its cleverly presented twist, as James convincingly makes the case for why Natalie Portman should play Scholl in a film version.

James offers an interesting mix of good and bad guys, and it makes for a good overview of all that went wrong in the 20th century, especially from the intellectual angle.

Book Review: Cultural Amnesia, by Clive James - THE VIENNA REVIEW -

Part of his warning cultural amnesia clive james obvious: Mao "started off as a benevolent intellectual: Still, there's a lot else mixed in the book. There are some great quotes and quite a few good anecdotes, but it's no surprise that James seems to revel particularly in writers who didn't necessarily collect their thoughts in the neatest way.

Though he has a thing for the monumental histories too -- Friedell's is a particular favourite.


It is an interesting and appealingly mixed assemblage it's hard not to approve when he even throws Dubravka Ugresic into the mixand there are good points made by cultural amnesia clive james examples.

Ironically, Cultural Amnesia probably makes a better impression if the gallery of characters isn't that familiar, if the people he introduces are new as way well be the case for many readers -- i. For those for whom the majority or all are more or less familiar it's harder to see quite as much to it, and while the individual pieces are almost all worthwhile the sum doesn't add up cultural amnesia clive james as convincingly.

In the absence of an intelligible argument, or through line, in a volume that never quite dispels the suspicion that the author is frugally recycling some cultural amnesia clive james intellectual compost, James and cultural amnesia clive james editors have resorted to a helpful alphabetical arrangement, in which the essential link is its author's autodidactic fervour.

The disproportion of gravy to beef makes Cultural Amnesia a wonderful book for a long afternoon in a left-bank cafe, or a transatlantic plane ride, but perverse and sometimes baffling to fans who might have been hoping for a Jamesian summation.

Or perhaps, knowing too well that it is the fate of English humorists not to be taken seriously by the academy, has James opted for a less exposed strategy? In discursive essays on cultural amnesia clive james people he has read and read about, James weaves a fabric worthy of a humanistic life.

But by the time he got to writing the book, he "had begun to live with the possibility that there could be no schemeā€¦, only a linear cluster of nodal points, working the way the mind works as it moves through time.

Cultural Amnesia by Clive James

After the horrors of the 20th century, we understand the brutality of ideology in its insistence on simple answers, as well as the failed promise of science as solely a force for good.

Still, there is sometimes a sense that his veneration of clarity, while refreshing, cultural amnesia clive james be misleading. Although it's obviously essential in an essay or in philosophy, there is at least an argument that in the arts a complexity of cultural amnesia clive james can be a pleasure in itself.

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Certainly this would be one defence of Miles Davis whose abstruseness James dislikes or of Thomas Pynchon he doesn't get a mention, but I suspect James would disapprove. Cultural amnesia clive james subject matter of many of the essays, dealing as they do with one or other form of totalitarianism, can be fairly bleak, and one thing a James fan might miss a little is the humour he usually brings to his writing.

Cultural Amnesia (book) - Wikipedia

It's a pity that he seems to have felt it was inappropriate, because when it does emerge, in his lighter moments, the sentences can really come alive. How's this for a description of male porn stars: With their clothes off and their virile members contractually erect, they are merely competitors in some sort of cultural amnesia clive james caber-tossing competition in which they are not allowed to use their hands.

Sometimes, but too rarely, this kind of wit is cultural amnesia clive james brought to bear on political issues: It is a continual concern of the book to demand what moral responsibilities an intellectual should have when faced with totalitarianism.

Watching him lay into someone like this is great fun, not least because it gives you a few ideas of what to say to the next Sartre-nut who corners you at a party. Sometimes he seems to hold these people up to some very demanding standards: Clive James's Cultural Amnesia.