Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time

Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time

Clive James

Language: English

Pages: 734

ISBN: 0330481754

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


'One stupendous starburst of wild brilliance' SIMON SCHAMA 'Aphoristic and acutely provocative: a crash course in civilization' J. M. COETZEE Organized from A through Z, and containing over 100 essays, Cultural Amnesia is the ultimate guide to the twentieth century. 'This is a beautiful book. James proves himself not only to be in possession of a towering intellect, but a singular ability to communicate his passions' Observer 'Witty, insightful and unashamedly erudite, the book is a superb miscellany of 20th-century cultural and political subjects' The Sunday Times 'Over the past forty years James has been scribbling notes in the margins of the books he has read ...and this is the result. Clever, contentious and funny' Guardian 'An eclectic journey through the 20th century, as Clive James explores the careers of luminaries such as Charles de Gaulle and Charlie

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question. When, during World War II, he finally allowed himself to find out exactly what the Nazis were doing to the Jews in the east, he was suitably devastated. But during the twenties it never seemed to concern him much that all the various nationalist groups—even the national Bolshevist group fronted by Ernst Niekisch—always seemed to have this one characterisitic, anti-Semitism, in common. Not, of course, that it would have come to anything much if Jünger and the rest of the intellectuals

anybody could be attractive. It might be tough on the women. In the most ruthless set of laboratory conditions we know about, Lavrenty Beria and Mao Zedong, two men who had absolute power to do whatever they wanted in the sexual sphere, confined their attentions only to women they thought beautiful. Beria routinely picked up any pretty girl he saw in the street and took her home to be raped. Barely pubescent girls whom the senescent Mao liked the look of were given the privilege of keeping him

even humble journalists could share the glory of a genius, simply by pointing out that he was there, and thus offering him the consolation of understanding. Sábato has a phrase for it: la infinita liberación de no saberse solo. The infinite liberation of knowing that one is not alone. I should add, in fairness, that there are young intellectuals in Argentina who find my admiration for Sábato incomprehensible. They remember that he, too, like Borges, sat down with the generals. But I rememer that

odds with Sartre and the whole of the French left, although Camus, with good reason, went on calling himself a man of the left until the end. Raymond Aron found the book weak when not obvious, but that could have been partly because Camus had got into print first with ideas that Aron had held while Camus was still a boy. Those for whom Camus’s thesis is still not obvious would do well to read the book: his novels The Stranger and The Plague deserve their reputations but give only part of the

will get to the rugged mountain ranges, the droughts and flooding rains. I will not always get to the name of the poet. In my uncaring recollection, Henry Kendall, Dorothea McKellar and many other Australian poets all shared the one elasticized identity until they were superseded by Shakespeare. But hundreds of their lines got into my head, and with them came the measures of English verse, the most common rhythmic structure being the iambic pentameter. (In Italian, the equivalent is the

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