Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts
Clive James is a well-known Australian writer, critic, broadcaster, and poet; he has often been described (in the US) as a public intelectual. Cultural Amnesia spotlights his comprehensive and deep knowledge is of Western culture, with a special focus on 20th-century Europe. The volume is comprised of 106 biographical profiles of a wide range of writers, music...more
Staying on topic, bragging: James...more
James wrote Cultural Amnesia as a defense of liberal democracy, humanism, and art and culture that supports freedom, tolerance, and understanding. Organized as an alphabetized series of thematic essays, each o...more
I was reminded of this many times while reading Clive James's new and enormous book of biographical essays, Cultural Amnesia, because Bond's breezy insouciance is something Clive James seems constantly trying to pull...more
And whilst I gi...more
The estimable James, novelist, poet, and critic, has an opinion on everything having to do with culture and the arts, and with Cultural Amnesia , an alphabetized collection of essays on the artists, poets, musicians, writers and film makers he feels we should be conversant in, lest we forget, get lazy, or simply stop giving a good goddamn of what brilliant men and women are trying to do. James does give a damn, fortunate for us, and sallies forth with learned and nuanced barbs, jibes, praise, an...more
Over the course of many, many essays, the format is about the same: it's a cultural figure (mainly from the 1900s, but with some extreme exceptions), there's a little biographical sketch, and then Uncle Clive tells you a story. A great deal of the time, this story has something to do...more
I'd written my initial reaction to this book last year - and having finally finished it a few months ago I can say this book is good for you.
Yes, it is scatterbrained and yes, it is difficult to follow - James has not written a narrative, but a collection of essays that riff on quotations he has collected over the years.
Attempting to weave a common thread through his essays would have been impossible: he jumps from discussions of...more
This book is a roughly 850-page blueprint of Clive James's cathedral. He focuses mainly on writers in Eastern Europe during and prior to the Holocaust. It is unclear whether he recognizes that he is providing a personal, not an objectively correct, definition of the culture and genre that is...more
There are people who should be remembered not only for their brilliance, but their courage in the face of brutality. Many of the people included here were new to me, which shows my limited education I guess.
The trampling of genius and the oppression of creativity is one of the sad facts of life that still goes on today. The hundreds of millions of people inter...more
Thanks to a major ego for introducing this poor ole boy what only knows what he larnt in school to the wide, wide world of Viennese, Jewish thought of t...more
For more than 40 years a critic, writer, and public personality, the Australian-born Clive James, prolific author of Unreliable Memoirs, The Meaning of Recognition, and North Face of Soho, among many other books, has garnered a well-deserved reputation as "an eclectic master of the high/low" (Los Angeles Times). James's wide-ranging intellect is on display here in a big way: "doorstop" appears more than once in reviews of the book. Fortunately, the book moves along__thanks to the author's deft p...more
Because of the very personal filter placed over the lens, these essays are less a picture of people who shaped wester...more
I love a well written essay and here there are over a 100. In design they are thoughts on those.who have influenced culture most; scientifically. creatively, politically in the 20th century, arranged in alphabetical order. In fact these are generally only starting points for James to go dow...more
For example, look at the essay that is ostensibly about Louis Armstrong, but mostly about whether Bix Beiderbecke and Benny Goodman were as good at playing jazz as black musicians, and whether Fred Astaire’s dancing was as compelling as the footwork of Bojangles Robinson. (The short answer,...more
So lately I’ve been perusing Clive James’s massive Cultural Amnesia, a browser’s guide to the major thinkers, writers, and cultural icons of the past several hundred years (back as far as Sir Thomas Browne), though most of the personages that fill these pages are from just the past century. At first glance, this book may appear to be friendly to your average reader, one of those books the average reader might pick up to gain a not-so-quick overview of...more