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Kevin Cryan
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #140: 30.11.07 at 06:42 »
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The New York Times has chosen Cultural Amnesia, which it reviewed the 8th of April 2007 as one of the  
100 Notable Books of 2007  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #141: 30.11.07 at 07:22 »
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on 30.11.07 at 06:42, Kevin Cryan wrote:
The New York Times has chosen Cultural Amnesia, which it reviewed the 8th of April 2007 as one of the  
100 Notable Books of 2007  
 
Kevin Cryan

 
This should have read:
 
The New York Times has chosen Cultural Amnesia, which it reviewed the 8th of April 2007, as one of the  
100 Notable Books of 2007  
 
Kevin Cryan
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #142: 02.12.07 at 15:40 »
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It’s not very often you come upon a  book’s cover design being reviewed in anything other than a book-trade periodical. However, the Louise Fili strikingly designed dust-jacket for the hardback edition of Clive's Cultural Amnesia has got a review all of its own from former book designer Mary Cregan in the Books section of yesterday’s Financial Times.  
 
It’s interesting in that it shows what can be achieved when a writer is being served by an editor as thoughtfully sympathetic as Robert Weil, who is Clive’s editor at Norton.

 
Kevin Cryan
 
PS.  
 
Steve has helpfully placed this on the home page of Smash Flops

.
A .E.G (Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gessellschaft) by Peter Behrens  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #143: 05.12.07 at 08:38 »
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on 30.11.07 at 07:22, Kevin Cryan wrote:

 
........
 
The New York Times has chosen Cultural Amnesia, which it reviewed the 8th of April 2007, as one of the  
100 Notable Books of 2007  
 
Kevin Cryan

 
I have just noticed that it's the non-fiction part of The New Yorks Times  100 Notable Books of 2007 that's being talked about in China. Is there anybody out there who can explain why this might be?  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #144: 06.12.07 at 13:08 »
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Extract from the current issue of The Village Voice
 
"....
The Best of 2007
Voice writers pick their favorite 20 books of the year
December 4th, 2007 6:37 PM……
 
....
Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories From History and the Arts
by Clive James
W.W. Norton, 768 pp., $35  
Cultural Amnesia is possibly the first collection of criticism to deal with both Mao Zedong ("The rediscoveries [of Mao's atrocities] were succeeded by a further forgetting, and the same holds true today") and Tony Curtis ("His Sidney Falco is one of the definitive performances of the American cinema: the galvanic answer to the perennial question of what makes Sammy run"). Not to mention just about everything in between: Mario Vargas Llosa, Dick Cavett, G.K. Chesterton, and Raymond Aron are raised aloft; Walter Benjamin, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Leon Trotsky take hits from which their reputations will never recover. James is the greatest cultural critic of our time; he's what you'd get if you crossed the DNA strands of Edmund Wilson and Pauline Kael. ALLEN BARRA
...."

 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #145: 06.12.07 at 21:14 »
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on 30.11.07 at 07:22, Kevin Cryan wrote:

 
The New York Times has chosen Cultural Amnesia, which it reviewed the 8th of April 2007, as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2007  
 
Kevin Cryan

 
It did not make it into the NYT's 10 Best books of 2007 which is to be published in print form on Sunday the 9th of December.
 
However, this piece from the Arts & Culture section of this week's Sacramento News Review puts this omission in perspective.
 
"Agree, or don't.
 
By Kel Munger  
kelm@newsreview.com
….  
The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2007 list will be published in the December 9 edition of their Book Review section, and is already online now. It's an important list; most of the titles traditionally get a bump in sales from all the people looking for book gift ideas.
 
But not everyone's taste leans the NYT way, and while we've got a lot of admiration for "the gray lady"—especially her commitment to book reviewing and reporting—we beg to differ with some of the choices. So SN&R's staff critics (which basically amounts to, in addition to the usual suspects, everyone in the editorial department) joined in to offer up our choices for the best books of 2007.  
 
Feel free to argue with us; we'd love nothing more, contentious pack that we are. Or don't argue, and just take the list along when you go off to do your holiday shopping at the nearest independent local bookstore.  
....
 
And from Jonathan Kiefer, not a list, but a rant (because he's the kind of guy who just can't be saddled with a silly old format):
....
Which brings me to Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts, by the unrepentant highbrow Clive James (Norton). This hefty 876-page tome amounts to a syllabus, yes, but what a syllabus. Can any book written in this or any year provide as direct a route to real enlightenment as James' assembly of wise, funny, passionate, personal, erudite, creative, curious, humanist biographical sketches of relevant cultural figures from the past hundred-odd years? To take a random-sample handful of its subjects, there's Freud, Duke Ellington, Beatrix Potter, Tony Curtis, Anna Akhmatova, and G.K. Chesteron, who coined what would seem to be Cultural Amnesia's modus operandi: "to set a measure to praise and blame, and to support the classics against the fashions." This book serves my craft, my life."

 
"This book serves my craft, my life" Wow!!!!
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #146: 24.12.07 at 10:50 »
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Excerpt from The Washington Post's Holiday Guide published the 2nd of December 2007.
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Book World's Holiday Issue  
 
We pick the best books of 2007, the ones that will keep you turning pages all winter long.
 
Nonfiction Fiction  Top Ten Books of 2007 Critic's Picks
 
Excerpts from the 100 most favorable nonfiction reviews of the year.
 
Arts
 
Cultural Amnesia, by Clive James (Norton). Possesses the magic touch for knocking usurpers like Sartre off their pedestals. The warts are few, the all is absorbing. - John Simon
 
Dark Victory, by Ed Sikov (Henry Holt). A refreshingly unsentimental and unapologetic biography of Bette Davis. - Charles Matthews
 
The House That George Built, by Wilfrid Sheed (RH). Emphasizes Gershwin's singular generosity to other composers and musicians and eloquently defends him against his highbrow critics. - JY
 
Lost Genius, by Kevin Bazzana (C&G). Even if your interest in classical music is elementary or - shame on you - merely perfunctory, the book offers elegance and fun. -MD
 
The Rest Is Noise, by Alex Ross (FSG). The best general study of the complex history of 20th century music. Itis an impressive, invigorating achievement. - Stephen Walsh
 
The Shakespeare Riots, by Nigel Cliff (RH). In 1849, more than 10,000 New Yorkers faced off against city police outside the Astor Place Opera House. The flashpoint of the riot was Shakespeare. Cliff turns this most improbable episode of history into a lively and compelling drama. - Daniel Stashower
 
The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein, by Martin Duberman (Knopf). A superb biography of a man who early on recognized that literature and the fine arts donit need only creative spirits, they also need champions. - MD

 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #147: 29.12.07 at 16:51 »
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From today’s edition of The Guardian.
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
Hand picked: Part 1
 
You've read the critics' and writers' books of the year, so what did you most enjoy in 2007? Read Part 2 here*
 
Saturday December 29, 2007
The Guardian  
............................
 
Sam Banik
London
Clive James's Cultural Amnesia (Picador) is an excellent anthology of essays on the lives and works of many luminaries who have shaped our social, political and cultural consciousness over a hundred years. In A Writer's People (Picador), the Nobel laureate VS Naipaul reminisces about the literati, here and abroad, about his younger days in Trinidad and the "ways of looking and feeling" in a mutating world. As always, Naipaul is a joy to read, although his remark about India having no autonomous intellectual life will off end many people.
.............

 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
* This link does not appear to be working presently - KC
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #148: 29.12.07 at 18:54 »
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The ever-interesting blogger, Kevin Breathnach, posted this to is  Disillusioned Lefty diary today
 

 

One Meaning of Recognition

Published Saturday, December 29, 2007 by Kevin Breathnach | E-mail this post  
<<Home                                                       Christmas Shock>>
 
    The book of my enemy has been remaindered
    And I am pleased.
    In vast quantities it has been remaindered
    Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
    And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
    My enemy's much-prized effort sits in piles
    In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
    Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
    One passes down reflecting on life's vanities,
    Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
    Lavished to no avail upon one's enemy's book --
    For behold, here is that book
    Among these ranks and banks of duds,
    These ponderous and seeminly irreducible cairns
    Of complete stiffs.
 
Months ago, Clive James launched an attack on the reputation of (amongst others) one Jean-Paul Sartre. Only weeks ago, though, the (Irish) ghost of that Sartre might well have been pleased. Not only had Cultural Amnesia been remaindered, it had been remaindered in great abundance and with considerable vigour to boot - a 200% price reduction. Something changed. For it now sits proudly (back at full price) in even greater abundance at the very top of the chart (in Hodges & Figgis, at least). It was sold-out, moreover, in every Dublin bookshop a week before Christmas. Something changed, indeed.
 
Pat Rabbitte* recommended the book on radio, is what changed. And just this once, the public listened to Rabbitte, who has clearly found himself with more free time since his departure from the top at Labour. Nothing changed, at all. Hell is still other people.  
 
Labels: books, clive james, pat rabbitte, sartre
 
*My link KC

 
Can anyone imagine something similar happening this side of the Irish Sea?  People rushing out to buy what a politician says he's reading? Don't all answer at once.
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #149: 29.12.07 at 20:33 »
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on 29.12.07 at 18:54, Kevin Cryan wrote:

Can anyone imagine something similar happening this side of the Irish Sea?  People rushing out to buy what a politician says he's reading? Don't all answer at once.
 
Kevin Cryan

 
Over this side of the Ocean I am not sure our president CAN read   Sad
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #150: 29.12.07 at 21:23 »
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On the wider subject of politics, politicians and books: Michael Foot may have not been the most successful leader that the Labour Party has had - but he must be its greatest living bibliophile. There can't be many - to put it politely - of today's leadership who could engage us about writers as Mr Foot has done with his championing of Heinrich Heine (to whom I myself am devoted), William Hazlitt and Lord Byron.  
 
And as for influencing action, who could top Mr Foot's classic 1941 book Guilty Men in which, under the pen-name "Cato", he excoriated those who had appeased the Nazis?
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #151: 02.01.08 at 10:28 »
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I cannot recall a time when Rob Spence, who is, I believe, still a Midnight Voices'  member, has ever made a contribution to the discussions we have had on this site. After you have read this  entry into his on-line diary, I think that you will understand why I, for one, wish he would become a little more vocal.  
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
Monday, December 31, 2007
Cultural Amnesia  
 

"It is so immense, I have no words for it" was T.S. Eliot's reaction to Wyndham Lewis's The Apes of God. Old Tom was possibly just relieved that he had escaped being skewered on Lewis's satirical blade, unlike virtually everyone else in the precious hothouse world of the London literary scene in the twenties. I had a similarly awed response when reading Clive James's magnum opus (which it is, in every sense) Cultural Amnesia. The avid reader (there must be one) of this blog will know of my admiration for Clive, founded initially on his lyrics to Pete Atkin's music. He has been, away from the TV screen, one of the most important cultural critics of our times, and his post -TV career seems dedicated to cementing that position. Recent books of essays, such as Even As We Speak, seem to me to represent all that is best in the critic's art. The autobiographical work is just hugely enjoyable, and the poetry at its best is playfully serious, formally adventurous, thought-provoking and beautifully observed. It's not surprising that the jacket of Cultural Amnesia repeats the oft-quoted New Yorker assessment "Clive James is a brilliant bunch of guys" to point out the breadth of his achievements, but really that isn't adequate to characterise this latest volume.
 
I know from the estimable Pete Atkin website run by Steve Birkill that the original title for the book was "Alone in the Cafe" and that gives a clue to the process of composition. The author says that the book is based on his reading during time off (often in cafes) from all the other activities for which he's known over the last forty years; his marginal notes form the germ of these pieces. The eventual title refers to the necessity to resist the "cultural amnesia" which, in the era of increasing homogenisation, forgets that complex and vibrant mental world of twentieth century creative life.
 
The book is organised as a series of essays, alphabetically arranged according to the author of the quotation around which each essay is constructed. The focus is on those who shaped our culture in the twentieth century, so some names are the ones you might expect: Wittgenstein, Proust, Freud. And because James is concerned with those who had a negative effect, it's not really surprising to see Hitler, Goebbels and Mao there too. But would you have expected Beatrix Potter, Terry Gilliam and W.C. Fields? Probably not. There's a noticeably European (and non-English flavour) to the figures chosen, too. Starting with the cafe culture of old Vienna, James is not shy of advancing the claims of some figures many of us might not have heard of. Would you recognise Peter Altenberg, Karl Tschuppik or Miguel de Unamuno? No, thought not. Yet James makes a very convincing case for the importance of these figures. He isn't shy of using non-twentieth century characters either- so Tacitus, Sir Thomas Browne and John Keats are all in there.
 
The essays are not, though, biographical, and are not, quite often, about the person whose name appears at the top of the page. Rather, the essays are about the issues raised by a particular quotation of that writer. Thus, the Thomas Browne chapter is largely about using quotations as titles; the Arthur Schnitzler chapter is, hilariously, mostly about Richard Burton's hairstyle in Where Eagles Dare; and the Terry Gilliam chapter is about state-sponsored torture.
 
At the heart of the book, and infusing every line, is the passionate desire to assert the value of humanism, as it has been developed by the thinkers and artists of Western civilisation. The alphabetical arrangement makes for a serendipitous juxtapositioning of disparate figures- Michael Mann is sandwiched between Heinrich and Thomas Mann, and Tony Curtis rubs shoulders with Benedetto Croce. The emphasis on the Jewish writers of mittel-Europa is entirely justified by James's advocacy of these (to me, at any rate) little-known figures. I now have a growing "to-read" list starting with Egon Friedell, and then Ernst Curtius, Alfred Polgar, Stefan Zweig and ... and...
 
Clive James is nothing if not opinionated, and I was pleased to see some of the darlings of Theory brushed aside: Lacan, Kristeva and Baudrillard are described as "artistes in the flouncing kick-line of the post-modern intellectual cabaret."
 
A couple of quibbles: for a book that acknowledges the work of two editors, and a copy-editor, there are too many typos. Clive James is a stickler for accuracy, so the reader winces at incorrect spellings of German words, "English" rendered with a lower-case e, and other infelicities. There's also some repetition, understandable considering the piecemeal creative process, but avoidable if the editors were doing their job. A good joke about the special bullets used in films, which miraculously avoid hitting the hero, is not improved by being repeated. And there is some contentiousness about the often rather brutal moral judgements. 'Er indoors (sorry: Doctor 'Er Indoors) thought the assessment of Ernst Jünger was harsh, for instance. But these are minor blemishes on a very important work.  
 

 
The old Everyman editions used to quote Edmund Gosse: "A cosmic convulsion might utterly destroy all printed works in the world, and still if a complete set of Everyman's Library floated upon the waters enough would be preserved to carry on the unbroken tradition of literature." I think that if Cultural Amnesia, and all the books mentioned therein, were to survive, we could make a similar claim. Spend that Christmas book token on this.
 
Posted by Rob Spence at 12:36 PM  

 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #152: 02.01.08 at 11:50 »
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Well, here I am!
I think I did make some postings ages ago, but you are right, I haven't been as vocal a voice as I should be. I really enjoyed Cultural Amnesia, which I take to be a massively important book, and one which deserves the widest circulation. The paperback is out in May- hope they have sorted those typos out by then.
Next time the muse strikes me with anything of an Atkin-James persuasion, I'll make sure I post here as well as on the blog.
Cheers to all MVs for a happy new year.
Rob
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #153: 02.01.08 at 15:16 »
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on 02.01.08 at 11:50, Rob Spence wrote:
Well, here I am!
I think I did make some postings ages ago, but you are right, I haven't been as vocal a voice as I should be. I really enjoyed Cultural Amnesia, which I take to be a massively important book, and one which deserves the widest circulation. The paperback is out in May- hope they have sorted those typos out by then.
Next time the muse strikes me with anything of an Atkin-James persuasion, I'll make sure I post here as well as on the blog.
Cheers to all MVs for a happy new year.
Rob

 
And it is a delight to see your first post.
 
Happy New Year from Iowa, where the politicians are on the rampage and the temperature is about -12 C.  Cheesy
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #154: 02.01.08 at 16:06 »
Quote

Thanks Bogus (or should that be Mr Trumper?)
I was thinking about Cultural Amnesia and logged on to the MV forum for the first time in a long time to see what other people were saying- only to be confronted with my own words... So thanks to Kevin, my resolution this year is to be a vocal voice. The Iowa presidential race is hilarious - all these folk desperately trying to avoid offending anybody. Wouldn't it be great if someone just expressed an opinion? Cheesy
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #155: 03.01.08 at 08:21 »
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on 02.01.08 at 16:06, Rob Spence wrote:
....... The Iowa presidential race is hilarious - all these folk desperately trying to avoid offending anybody. Wouldn't it be great if someone just expressed an opinion? Cheesy

 
Hi Rob,  
 
Even the founding fathers guessed as what there was to come, and presumably copuld do little to prevent it.  
 
"[Political] offices are as acceptable here as elsewhere, and whenever a man casts a longing eye on them, a rottenness begins in his conduct." -- Thomas Jefferson.
 
Mind you, as always, it's Marx - Groucho not Karl - who comes closest to catching the spirit of our (political) age.
 
"Those are my principles.  If you don't like them, I have others."
 
Kevin Cryan
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #156: 03.01.08 at 08:46 »
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Yes - it's noticeable that Marx (K) doesn't feature in Cultural Amnesia, though the dire effects of communism as practised by Stalin constitute a leitmotif. Marx (G) had much the better lines. Were he alive today, I expect he might revive that song "Whatever it is, I'm against it".
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #157: 03.01.08 at 15:50 »
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on 02.01.08 at 16:06, Rob Spence wrote:
Thanks Bogus (or should that be Mr Trumper?)
I was thinking about Cultural Amnesia and logged on to the MV forum for the first time in a long time to see what other people were saying- only to be confronted with my own words... So thanks to Kevin, my resolution this year is to be a vocal voice. The Iowa presidential race is hilarious - all these folk desperately trying to avoid offending anybody. Wouldn't it be great if someone just expressed an opinion? Cheesy

 
Bogus is good  Smiley
 
If you want a hilarious read on what a caucus is like, try this:
 
http://www.236.com/news/2008/01/02/the_iowa_caucus_insignificant_3223.php
 
It is TOTALLY different to a "first past the post" vote, and great fun.
 
And Bill Bryson and I are dopplegangers - we did the same thing in opposite directions!
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #158: 03.01.08 at 20:10 »
Quote

Why wasn't Cultural Amnesia on my Chrismas list - I'll have to buy my own copy.
 
And as Marx (G) didn't say - Anyone who wants to be President of USA shouldn't be alowed to be!!
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #159: 04.01.08 at 07:04 »
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A rather good variation on Groucho's "I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member ", I think
 
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