By Clive James
"I cannot take into account whilst i have realized as a lot from whatever i have read—or laughed as a lot whereas doing it."—Jacob Weisberg, SlateFinally in paperback after six hardcover printings, this overseas bestseller is an encyclopedic A-Z masterpiece—the ideal advent to the very center of Western humanism. Clive James rescues, or sometimes destroys, the careers of a few of the maximum thinkers, humanists, musicians, artists, and philosophers of the 20 th century. hovering to Montaigne-like heights, Cultural Amnesia is exactly the booklet to burnish those stories of a Western civilization that James fears is almost misplaced.
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Additional resources for Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts
Nor could there be a more frightening demonstration of the virulent power of the forces which can combine to kill it. There is some room for hope, then, but none for sentimentality. A book about culture in the twentieth century which did not deal constantly with just how close culture came to being eradicated altogether would not be worth reading, although there is an ineradicable demand for uplift which would always make it worth writing. There could be a feel-good storybook about Vienna called, say, It Takes a Village.
W. Norton, who not only believed in the project from its formative stages, but gave it knowledgeable and detailed editorial attention from page to page as it steadily accumulated in his office on Fifth Avenue. If things got to the point that he had to schedule an editorial session for his flight back to New York from a conference in China, still he did not give up, and every comment he made in the margin was pertinent. In the spiritual sense, this book would not be the same without him: he was its ideal reader.
A final but vital acknowledgement should go to my copy editor, Trent Duffy, who, as well as spotting ambiguities lurking in the syntax, saved me from many serious blunders, including the results of my irritating mental habit of writing ‘Milos Forman’ for ‘Louis Malle’ – a conspicuous instance of die embarrassing phenomenon known to clinical psychologists as the Malle-Forman malformation. A book of this kind can be especially taxing in its very last stages of preparation, when the correcting of details persistently adds more details to be corrected.
Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts by Clive James