- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 6 hours and 20 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Abridged
- Publisher: Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 8 April 2008
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQ774G
Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts Audio Download – Abridged
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Top Customer Reviews
There's more of the same in this book, but its scale and structure dwarfs anything he's produced up until now. Some four years in the writing, it's been viewed as the culmination of his life's work (although he's rumoured to have already started work on a second volume). At first glance, it's a collection of more than a hundred critical essays on selected cultural or historical figures, mostly from 20th century Europe. Digging deeper reveals other things, as he uses his ideas about the person as a jumping-off point for musings on other topics such as plagarism, fame, memory, reading, grammar and bibliophilia.
His range of reference is extraordinary, taking in books written in German, French, Italian and Spanish (all of which he apparently reads fluently). There's a strong didactic element running through this work, as he breaks off to give advice on the most profitable way to learn languages, the best dictionaries and translations, and which books are most easily used as a starting point for breaking into a specific language.Read more ›
It consists of a hundred or more brief articles based on quotes noted down during a lifetime’s extensive reading, any one of which is liable at any point to go off at a tangent on a hugely entertaining digression. It’s not meant to be read from cover to cover, but you’ll have a great time dotting around in it. Guaranteed you’ll make loads of notes yourself in your own turn – memorable quotes, jokes, revelatory perceptions, writers you’d never heard of whom all of a sudden you really want to read.
If you’ve ever enjoyed any of Clive James’s writing – reviews, memoirs, songs, whatever – don’t hesitate. It’s a book to keep with you always and to keep returning to.
I consider myself a reasonably well read person, as I would guess does anyone that might have this book in prospect. Why is it though, that for all my reading, my view of the world only seems to become more confused, more filled with questions I don't know how to answer? James, on the other hand has managed to synthesise a world view from all his reading, that, while facing squarely all the worst that humans are capable of, levaes him with no doubt about the concreteness of value of all that is best.
The book is organised as a selection of essays, each of which takes as a starting point a particular individual, for the most part writers, but also including the odd politician, activist or media personality, who's life and work, and all the significant criticism on it, James has totally devoured at some point or other in his book devouring life. The essays are simply arranged in alphabetical order of the subject's surnames. Some of the authors or personalities will be known to all readers. Some will be known only to more specialist readers, the selection being truly global, and many not easily available in English.Read more ›
One way to describe this book is to see it as Clive James 40 years exploration to make sense himself, his work and the world around him through works of the well-known, forgotten, cut-short or bogus mainly western intelligentsia. These are over but not confined the past 150 years. He also throws in 20th century film stars, fashion designers, TV broadcasters, jazz musicians and reporters. The format is over 100 individual pen-sketches grouped in alphabetical order of individuals that have aroused his interest with as sentence, comment, or thought and been inked over the years in his journal. From these seeds grows an essay that critically reveals more about the idea or the character or the context but done in his usually witty light foxtrot prose. Knowing that nothing worse then a judgement on writing style not seem here are three extracts.
Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (p.177)
`And above all, I am not interested enough in politics to let them encumber my last days'
On the face of it, Drieu's valedictory testament was absurd.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great book from the master. required reading for fans of the great Aussie.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A weighty tome in all respects, but a fascinating selection of subjects from the past century.Published 1 month ago by dave gelly
A toilet read of the utmost significance.
I worship at the temple of Clive James' auto-biographical works though. Read more
Found this by accident but so glad I did. One of the most stunning books I have read in many a year. It is wonderfully exhausting because it challenges you to think. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Richard E-S
In part, this is a love letter to CJ’s library; in part it is a journey around his intellectual world in a hundred or more aphorisms. Read morePublished 10 months ago by P. A. KRIJGSMAN
Far less easy to read him than listen to him narrating his own documentaries. Sadly he has retired from TV work and we miss him a lot. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jeremy Prior