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Kevin Cryan
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Clive James on ABC (Australia)
« : 27.11.14 at 20:56 »
Quote

Clive James talks to ABC’s Mark Colvin  
 

MARK COLVIN:  
Quote:
Clive James - as a recent ABC TV series underlined - is one of the greatest living creative Australians, but for how long?
 
As he told me in a long interview back in 2012, his lung condition means that he's dying, and that he'll never see his beloved birthplace again.  
 
But he has a huge record of achievement behind him, and he's still writing.  
 
Humorist, broadcaster, TV critic, literary critic, and self-described unreliable memoirist, Clive James would like above all to be remembered as a poet. And he has a new book out about poetry.
 
Despite his ill-health, he granted me a long interview from his home in Cambridge about Poetry Notebook 2006 to 2014.
 
In this part, while discussing the effect of poetry on his prose writing, I asked him about how he found his own distinctive voice as a writer who writes pretty much as he speaks, and speaks pretty much as he writes...

 
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Re: Clive James on ABC (Australia)
« Reply #1: 16.01.15 at 08:53 »
Quote

on 27.11.14 at 20:56, Kevin Cryan wrote:
Clive James talks to ABC’s Mark Colvin  
 

MARK COLVIN:  
 
Kevin Cryan

 
A lengthier version of that interview is available here.  
 
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Re: Clive James on ABC (Australia)
« Reply #2: 19.08.15 at 20:12 »
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7.30 Hosted by Leigh Sales.............. Weeknights on ABC and ABC News 24


 
'I'm dying, I just look remarkably cheerful' says Clive James
 
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 19/08/2015
Reporter: Philip Williams
 
He's got a dark view of life but is positive about what people are capable of, says Clive James as he reflects on life, literature and leukaemia.
 
Quote:

Transcript
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Writer, wit and all-round polymath, Clive James says being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2010 forced him to slow down and reflect on life. Ever since, he's thought himself on the brink of dying, but to his surprise, he keeps on living. His cancer diagnosis has certainly slowed him down, but it's done nothing to dampen his work ethic. Clive James has recently released books on what he's been reading and watching and has another in the works on politics and culture.  
 
Europe correspondent Philip Williams visited Clive James in Cambridge, where he spoke of the difficulty of reconciling his sometimes dark world view with his belief in humankind's goodness.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS, EUROPE CORRESPONDENT: Clive James, welcome to 7.30.
 
CLIVE JAMES, WRITER: My pleasure.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: Tell me, of all the things you are and have been, writer, poet, TV personality, all of the many myriad elements to you ...
 
CLIVE JAMES: Deep sea diver, astronaut.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: (Laughs) That's it. Which one for you has been the most important and what do you think really perhaps encapsulates you as a person?
 
CLIVE JAMES: It's - I'm a writer. Everything I do is writing. It's all I can do. If I hadn't been able to write, I would have been in Long Bay Jail at the age of 18. Probably still be there. Yeah, that's what I do. And even when I'm talking to you now, if you'll excuse me, I'll tell you my secret: I'm writing it in my head just before I say it, testing it out, wondering how it will go over with the audience watching. It's a performance art for me, writing. They're very closely aligned, writing and performing. But I'm a writer, not a performer.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: But you've managed to project that onto every screen that you've done?
 
CLIVE JAMES: Yeah, that was a lucky break because it actually paid for the groceries - let's not leave that out, 'cause writers quite often starve. And the kind of writer I am now where I'm mainly just writing critical prose and poetry, that's a formula for starvation. So I'm lucky that I made a certain name in television and became a recognisable presence 'cause I think that drew people to my other work.
 
(On TV) Welcome. Welcome once again to another instalment of the television talk show experience which has almost nothing to offer except conversation conducted among three human beings in the presence of a live studio audience.
 
(Present) So I never knocked television, even though those days are over for me.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: You determined to get back to the core of your being, the writing, ...
 
CLIVE JAMES: It's books.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: ... but along the way, you got terribly sick.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Yeah. These books are all around me and they'll be here when I go and I'm that sick. I just don't know when it ends. But in 2010, I got really ill and leukaemia was one of the things I was diagnosed with and eventually it will switch me off. So it raises the question: what do you do? Do you lie down and give up? Read the Bible? Or do you go on as you were reading and writing. And I've done the second and I've just done a little bit called Latest Readings which is about the books I've been reading lately and I could do another volume of that because I'm still reading.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: The accent's still there. You've lived here for so many years, but how much of you is still Australian or still resides in Australia?
 
CLIVE JAMES: I think a large - large part of what I rather boastfully call my mind is still about as Australian as a lawn full of bindi-eyes and will be right to the end. I write a lot of poems set now - set in Australia.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: What is it about that country that draws you?
 
CLIVE JAMES: Well it's my mission to tell the Australians from abroad in my work that Australia is a wonderful place. I always thought so. When I was young I was - I never believed that Australia was anything else except blessed. I thought it was a little dull when I was young, but that was 'cause I was a snob and I learned better when I came away. But if I hadn't come away, I wouldn't have realised that the world is not like Australia, for example. There are whole areas of the world that are nothing like Australia at all. And how do you tell the young in Australia how privileged they are? Well you can't, really.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: Let's just go back to your childhood, in fact right back to when you were just born. Your father was a prisoner of war under the Japanese and died, unfortunately, on the plane trip home.
 
CLIVE JAMES: It's the biggest topic of my life and is probably governing what I am even today, even as I sit here talking to you. There's not a lot I can say about it.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: Why?
 
CLIVE JAMES: One thing, it's too big a subject and I want to talk about it on paper if I talk about it at all. But I can say this much, because I thought the life that my father and mother would have had together was cut short and something of what they might have achieved I hope that I'm achieving in my work.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: It seems to me when I look at your life, there are a lot of women, one way or another in your life.
 
CLIVE JAMES: (Laughs) Nice try. This is good stuff, Philip, keep this one coming.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: But it's true, isn't it, that women have played a very big part of your life?
 
CLIVE JAMES: Yeahhh.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: More so perhaps than men.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Well, that last bit is true. I was always more interested in women than men. I think I can go that far without getting murdered by my family. That's true. And I think women should get an even break and I'm glad to say that in my television company, to the extent that I ran a television company, they did. We were very proud of that.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: When we look back five years ago when you first got sick, you reordered your priorities, you had to re evaluate your life. Are you a better person for being ill than not?
 
CLIVE JAMES: Yes. Yes. No question.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: In what way?
 
CLIVE JAMES: I think I actually wrote it in one of my poems is that my decline has been the making of me - I forget how I put it. Yeah, simply more reflective. I haven't got the excuse of moving forward just on impulse anymore, which I did, I think, for a long, long time.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: You've been telling the world, in a sense, since 2010 that your time is limited, you're on your way out. You haven't delivered.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Yes, I know, it's an embarrassment, isn't it? I think about that all the time. I more or less promised Kerry O'Brien, I think it was last year now - I'm sorry about this, Kerry, but I more or less promised it would be the last interview and I would totter away and die in the garden. And guess what? I didn't. There has been a change in the last year. My leukaemia came out of remission, but this new drug was ready and now I really don't know when I'll be finished.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: So the Dame Nellie Melba of exits continues.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Exactly. Or Frank Sinatra or - there's a wonderful comedian here called Barry Cryer and he was the first one to call his tour The First Farewell Tour. (Laughs) I'm in the middle of the first farewell tour. Yeah.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Thank you very much indeed for talking to 7.30.
 
PHILIP WILLIAMS: It's too good of you.
 
LEIGH SALES: Philip Williams there with Clive James. And the full version of that interview will air on Sunday afternoon on ABC News 24 at 4.30. I know I can't wait to watch that.  
 

Kevin Cryan

NB The full version of that interview will air on Sunday afternoon on ABC News 24 at 4.30
« Last Edit: 19.08.15 at 20:20 by Kevin Cryan » IP logged
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Re: Clive James on ABC (Australia)
« Reply #3: 24.08.15 at 19:59 »
Quote

Posted on facebook;
 
acebook

 
The Pete Atkin and Clive James Appreciation Society
 

Rob Spence
11 hrs · Edited
Quote:

 
Mark Colvin has interviewed Clive again for his Australian radio show. Click the link on the left of the page to hear the full interview.
 
Clive James: life through the prism of illness
 
full interview
 
Poet, critic, novelist and humourist Clive James is sounding brighter and more energetic, despite the effects of leukaemia. In fact, a new drug came online which is holding the leukaemia in check and Clive James himself says he's waiting for the next technological advance which will enable him to li…
abc.net.au....


 
Kevin Cryan
« Last Edit: 24.08.15 at 20:07 by Kevin Cryan » IP logged
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Re: Clive James on ABC (Australia)
« Reply #4: 26.09.15 at 15:13 »
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Radio
 
Clive James, Arts Minister on NPEA, Hoa Pham on Books and Arts
with Michael Cathcart on RN
Wednesday 23rd September
 
Clive James talks Fiona Gruber [first 35 minutes]
 
Note. The interview can be downloaded as MP3
 
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Re: Clive James on ABC (Australia)
« Reply #5: 06.01.16 at 12:20 »
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Clive James talks to ABC’s Mark Colvin
 

 
Quote:

MARK COLVIN: Hello, and welcome to a Radio Current Affairs Summer Special. I'm Mark Colvin. One of my privileges as presenter of PM over the last few years has been the chance to do three extensive interviews with the writer Clive James. Clive is an Australian renaissance man, a critic of culture high and low, a broadcaster, travel presenter, humorist, translator of Dante, author of what some see as novelistic memoirs, others as memoirish novels and above all as far as he is concerned, a poet. My 2014 interview went to air as a Summer Special last year and I feared that it would be the last. With leukaemia and emphysema, Clive James has spent the last few years preparing himself for death, but modern medicine has done wonders in keeping him alive, as I found from the outset of our latest conversation.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Well, my wife and I just started listening to the late Beethoven Quartets together, an activity I recommend for all married couples, but that doesn't really mean that I'm finished reading. My eyes, or one eye at least, is still working OK. I hope this phone's working OK because it's a sort of mobile handset and I just dropped it in the sink and I've - it was covered in soap suds, so I hope it's functioning. Did it sound alright?
 
MARK COLVIN: It's sounding fine and you're sounding remarkably chipper and from what I've seen of you on television, you look much better than you expected to look last time we spoke.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Yes. People keep telling me that and with an undercurrent of suspicion, as if I've been faking the whole thing (laughs) and I suppose they've got a point. I'm unreasonably well looking for where I'm at. Really what's happened is that my leukaemia came out of remission. Quite seriously, everything was taking a dive. But a new drug came online which is holding the leukaemia in check, but we have to rebalance the antibiotics. So there's been a sort of fluctuating period when I've been up and down, but now everything's smoothed out again and here I am waiting for the next technological advance, which I hope will enable me to live forever.
 
MARK COLVIN: And the lungs still not any better?
 
CLIVE JAMES: The lungs are never going to be great and that's what deprives me of energy. I've only got a fraction of the energy I once had, but I think I probably use it better and I managed to get the little book done. Little books are the things to write at my age, I've decided. Avoid the big ones, go for the little ones.
 
MARK COLVIN: Well, it is a little book, but it as usual displays an extraordinarily wide array of erudition and an enormous, I mean, just an almost addictive degree of reading.

CLIVE JAMES:
Yeah, I'm afraid I'm probably slightly mad on the subject and I think I have been since I was a kid. In our little house in Kogarah, there were quite a few books in the house. My mother and father, although they both left school when they were teenagers - had to in the '30s - loved reading and there were things like Dickens lying around. But what I read were magazines that were stacked in the cupboard in the hall, the Saturday Evening Post, Collier's from America and Lilliput from Britain, which of course was a very daring magazine. You can see the occasional picture of a naked woman in Lilliput, suitably airbrushed, and - the way I feel now, and there was an education to be gained and I gained it. I read all the time and I just got in the habit, I guess.
 
MARK COLVIN: Having just revisited Cultural Amnesia, even when you were doing a lot of other things, it seems to me that you read the most gigantic amount. How have you ever fitted it all into a day? I can understand that you now have a lot of time on your hands, but how did you ever do it?  
 
CLIVE JAMES: I think the great trick of doing my sort of thing is to learn to use your downtime, and of course in the media and especially in television, there's a heck of a lot of time of waiting around. And I think the trick is to use that. And I was sort of waiting in the back of the car, waiting for some shot that took a day to set up and I would spend it reading or learning the local language from my driver. I always tried to use it 'cause it did occur to me that there's only one ration of time to last your lifetime, and really if you don't do anything with it, it's a dead loss. So that bit, I can be proud of. There are other things in my life I'm less proud of, but I'm proud of that.  
 
MARK COLVIN: You set out pretty early to learn languages so that you could read. I think the first reference in this book is to a year that you spent in Florence in 1966 and obviously you've translated Dante since then. But there are a lot of references to your reading in German, for example. I mean, how many languages have you learned in order to read the literature of them?
 
CLIVE JAMES: Oh, the first language that I learned was Italian in Italy in the early and middle-'60s and I had to do that to keep up with the young men who were courting my wife. My wife was there studying. She spoke perfect Italian and she was very beautiful and very suave Italian men were crowding around her, talking all the time and if I was to even understand what was going on, I had to learn the language fast.  
 
It was a great stimulus and so Italian was my first and later on I acquired languages in the Language Laboratory at Cambridge and the Language Laboratory is a very good way of finding out about grammar and the vocabulary and that's why I learned to read German and later on I added Spanish, the standard European languages. I never did anything really exotic, except a bit later on I taught myself Russian, which was very, very useful, especially for poetry and in fact if you can't read Pushkin in Russian, you're really missing something.  
 
I recommend it to all young people. My niece is - her name is Sasha, is currently learning Russian at Melbourne University and I look forward to the day when I can talk to her about Pushkin. And for a while I could read quite a lot of Japanese, but that's a tough one. If you don't stay with it, it gets away from you and vanishes. I'm certainly not a linguist. I learned what languages I could learn in order to read books and I can't really speak them. I couldn't have stayed out of jail in most of them.
 
MARK COLVIN: Now in these conversations that I've considered myself fortunate to be able to have with you, we've talked quite a lot about high culture, high literature and not so much what you read for escapism, if you like. I noticed, for instance, that since you've been ill, you've suddenly started reading the novels of Patrick O'Brian, historical fiction.  
 
CLIVE JAMES: I love them, I love them and I still want to go to sea. It's something really missing from my life, is A Few Years Before the Mast. When I was very young, one of my favourite books was Captain's Courageous and I suppose one of the reasons I loved it, it was a life I knew I should have had, learning all the different bits of the ship and learning to catch fish and rig sails and to -all the things that I never learned and I never learned the discipline, but I hungered after it. But I love reading about the sea. I love reading about it a lot more than actually being on the sea, when you think about it. I'd rather fly over it. (Laughs)
 
MARK COLVIN: Sure. One reason I asked was because when - I've been suffering from a life-threatening disease for a long time too and when I first got ill was when I discovered Patrick O'Brian and I wondered if you thought there was something about suddenly being bed-bound or chair-bound that draws you to that?
 
CLIVE JAMES: Yes, it makes you want to be Jack Aubrey. Some people think it makes you want to be Russell Crowe, who starred as Jack Aubrey in the movie, Masters and Commanders, didn't he? It's sort of the picture of health, the thick-necked, muscle bulging picture of health. Yes, of course you dream of it when you - I'm sorry to hear that you were ill. It concentrates the mind, doesn't it?
 
MARK COLVIN: As Dr Johnson said, it concentrates the mind wonderfully. The - I would also quite like to be Stephen Maturin, who travels with Aubrey. You're not so keen on him, but I quite like the way that he opens up the whole of 18th Century geopolitics and science.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Well, Jack Aubrey is a tremendous tower of strength and you always want to read about him. I got a little bit less patient with his pal Stephen, because - not just because Stephen - Stephen is actually a very interesting character mentally and he can do everything, he can play chess. But he falls down a lot and I got sick of him falling off the back of the ship. It was the only comic device in the books, when you think about it. And O'Brian was never very good at the love side of things, either. The most fascinating woman in the whole series of the novels is killed in a quite arbitrary coach accident, I think 'cause he was just tired of her. The novels have their faults, but no-one's ever been able to put them down and I've actually doing - a clear proof of madness about O'Brian is when you start collecting the books even after you've read them and I'm collecting a new set now.
 
MARK COLVIN: Now you also got very interested in reading Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy and Levant Trilogy.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Olivia Manning was my great discovery in this period of my illness. I already knew about her of course because there was a TV series of the trilogies starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh and they were perfectly cast and the thing was so good that I - "Well, I'll never have to read that." And then when I started reading the books, I realised there was another layer to it, another depth. She was a marvellous writer and I think by now, she's coming into her own and people realise that she's a classic. She didn't feel she was at the time. She felt a bit hard done by, like most writers that she thought she wasn't getting enough attention.
 
MARK COLVIN: And you've also re-read the Evelyn Waugh Sword of Honour trilogy.
 
CLIVE JAMES: I always re-read that. I'm always re-reading it. Always quarrelling with him. But you always quarrel with Waugh because he makes Brideshead so seductive. You know that it's a whole pile of reactionary romanticism and you hate yourself for being drawn into it, but these sandstone castles on the sweeping lawns - he had a way of putting that you want to just move into it. And I love his prose. I would have hated him very much and he wanted to be hated. He was a pig of a man, really, since he was greatly gifted.
 
MARK COLVIN: And in a passage about somebody who might be less familiar to our audience, Osbert Lancaster, you have a passage which I think indicates why you might like some of Waugh. You say - you're talking about that world of Waugh and Betjeman and Nancy Mitford, Anthony Powell. You say, "As I read, I can feel it all slipping away into time, as I am myself. Probably all this stuff, this last stretch of a privileged social history, will never again come back into favour," and so on. And that's very much the flavour of some of Evelyn Waugh, isn't it?
 
CLIVE JAMES: It's got an in-built nostalgia, rather indulgent, really. Osbert Lancaster, it's wonderful to be able to get his name into print because he's the kind of writer who gets forgotten very quickly and yet when you look into what he did and not just wrote of course, but what he drew. He was a marvellous artist. It's all quite, quite wonderful. But he was - he paid the penalty of being too entertaining, which a wise writer will watch out for and usually try to circumvent. His books were too much fun. There's a little book called Drayneflete Revealed about the history of a very obscure little British seaside town which is one of the funniest things I've ever read.
 
MARK COLVIN: I love it too. I've known that book since I was a kid and it's absolutely marvellous.
 
CLIVE JAMES: And the bits towards the end with the '30s poet and his poem about Barcelona. Robert Hughes, alas no longer with us - Hughes used to be able to recite that poem from memory and I remember rolling about listening to him. Osbert Lancaster had that kind of effect on us.
 
MARK COLVIN: Now, just going back to these long novel series that you're reading, that you've been reading. Do you have a sense that you're actually - that you start a long novel series as a way of kind of keeping yourself going in a sense?
 
CLIVE JAMES: I'm practically read to write one now.
 
MARK COLVIN: (Laughs)
 
CLIVE JAMES: I've got so into the rhythm of the thing. I've got two examples for you. One is Edward St Aubyn, whom I didn't know much about, and I'm now reading the Melrose novels and enjoying them greatly. A lot of it's about drug addiction, which couldn't interest me less. I'd almost rather read about horse racing. But - but on the other hand, he can do the social stuff better even than Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell could because Edward St Aubyn really is social. He had the background that those guys wanted. And there was a long dinner party scene in one of the novels where Princess Margaret, just by being herself, manages to wreck an entire weekend for about 100 people that I howled at, mainly with recognition 'cause I met her a couple of times, and yeah, she was like that. Her sense of entitlement was terrific. To which she would have said, "Of course I had a sense of entitlement, you bloody fool. I'm titled." (Laughs)
 
MARK COLVIN: (Laughs) Your mention of - your mention of drugs means that I have to read out this passage from the book. "Sometimes I think I might have been a puritan all along. I drank too much, smoked cigarettes and cigars like an idiot and at one period, I was a kind of pothead who looked like a small cloud being propelled by a pair of legs." This I didn't know about you.
 
CLIVE JAMES: That was true. I was a big pothead for a short period. That was what ticked me off that I shouldn't go near hard drugs, actually, because I would consume the stuff as if it was going out of style and it rapidly occurred to me that if I ever tried a hard drug, the same thing would happen, so I never did. And I actually didn't like that feeling of being out of touch because what I do depends on being in touch. But it's fun to talk about. That's one of the real dangers of drugs: they're too much fun to talk about. Everybody loves the vocabulary. I think Carrie Fisher was the first to say that. You not only get these marvellous; you get these marvellous words.
 
MARK COLVIN: But if you drank too much, it brings me back to my earlier question about how you were still finding so much time to consumer 800-page volumes and some - you must have been reading seven books a week sometimes.
 
CLIVE JAMES: I found time because it was such a short time before I hit the floor. I was blessed with a light head. If I'd had a hollow leg, things would have been different, but I would pass out quite quickly and when I woke up, I was full of remorse and I would get to work. And also I feel that way about reading. I still do. I'm actually addicted to it. The books are out of control here. I'm trying to pretend they're not, but I'm sitting in my kitchen here and the books keep getting in much faster than they go out and I don't quite know what to do about it (inaudible).
 
MARK COLVIN: But you've also got a boxset of series four of Game of Thrones, it says here, and so it clearly doesn't prevent you from watching television and doing other things.
 
CLIVE JAMES: I've got that coming up, actually. There's a companion volume. This little book, Latest Readings, is published by Yale University Press who very, very smartly asked me what I was reading. They figured out that this could be a quite interesting situation here. They could commission a little book and I mightn't even finish it and that would make it more interesting. And - but now they've agreed that I should do another one and I'll be doing it about binge watching boxsets, because I've been doing - all the time that I've been reading, I've been watching, mainly with my younger daughter, who was a great person to watch boxset television with 'cause she remembers things. And we go right through show after show. We watch The Wire together. Pretty soon we're gonna watch Band of Brothers together again. We might go right through The West Wing again and I'm gonna write a little book about it. I don't know what to call it yet. I'm sort of calling it Band of Thrones, but that doesn't sorta work, does it? I'll think about it. Anyway, I'm sure binge watching is something that we invented. Now everybody's doing it.
 
MARK COLVIN: That brings me on to another question I was going to ask you, which is - somebody that you mention more than once in this and other books is a man called John Carey, another critic, who ...
 
CLIVE JAMES: He's a wonderful critic.
 
MARK COLVIN: He is a wonderful critic and he - but he has devoted a lot of time to knocking down some of the high art that you have revered.
 
CLIVE JAMES: For sure, yeah.
 
MARK COLVIN: Now you don't - you don't have - you don't have a complete disagreement with him, you have a kind of conversation with him.
 
CLIVE JAMES: I do.  
 
MARK COLVIN: What's your view about high and low art?
 
CLIVE JAMES: On that point I do have a disagreement with him and he knows it. We talk about it quite a lot. Here's more than just a critic, John Carey, although a critic is quite a good thing to be. He's a great scholar, of course, and he really knows his way around Milton and Marvell and Thackeray and Dickens and he's written books on all of them. His are the first books to read about anybody. His little book about John Donne is a master - masterly piece of critical analysis. But he has a social position and he does think that that whole era of people like Evelyn Waugh and Osbert Lancaster and Betjeman was simply overprivileged and far too servile towards the upper class, wanted to be part of the upper class. And he thought that that took art away from the people and he's very keen - Carey is very keen that the people should be in possession of art. On the other hand, given all that and given he's quite fierce stance on this, he is - he is capable of seeing that Evelyn Waugh's little book Decline and Fall is one of the great achievements of the 20th Century and so - so that's what I like about Carey. He can actually - he doesn't let his prejudices warp his judgement.
 
MARK COLVIN: Now you've mentioned your wife, doing things with your wife and your daughters and I think I read a profile of one of your daughters and I got the impression that you had had one of the benefits, if you can have a benefit in a life-threatening disease - one of the benefits has been a much closer family relationship.
 
CLIVE JAMES: Oh, yes. There's no doubt that it's brought us all together, but it was really only work that ever took us apart. And the trouble with the kind of work I did is it took me away and I suppose there was something about me that likes being away alone. But I always loved being with the kids when I was and now of course I am much more often. And they tolerate me. The whole bunch of them tolerate me, which is rather good of them, considering. But, you know, life improves, especially when you're in extra time. Now I'm in what my friend Bruce Beresford calls the departure lounge and the flight - and the flight out is delayed. That's really what's happening. In fact I just wrote a little poem about it yesterday. And everything is brighter and sharpened up because you see - whether your sight is theoretically going dim, you see things much more clearly and you see the past more clearly. As you know from being ill, you start looking back to when you were well, to that childhood and its boundless energies. Well I think about that all the time, and thinking about life, it gives me life. And it's a blessed period in a way. But I'd have to underline all this by saying very emphatically that I'm very, very lucky because I haven't got a version of these - of this disease that hurts and I'm just fading away. But that's not the same as being in pain. And if I was in pain, I might be taking a very different attitude and certainly, I'd be writing and reading a lot less.
 
MARK COLVIN: And because you were born when you were born and what happened to your father happened when it did - you grew up much of your childhood without a father because of Adolf Hitler, essentially - you've been preoccupied with the problem of evil and the problems of life and death that surround it. Has that perspective changed because of illness?
 
CLIVE JAMES: No, I don't think so. I think it's probably sharpened up. In fact I'm ready to write about - about history and evil again. I did in my book Cultural Amnesia and I would like to write a companion volume, but it would be a big book and I'm not so sure that it's time, but evil would certainly be part of it because we're up against a force now that embraces evil unashamedly and in order to defend ourselves against it - I'm talking about Western civilisation. How Western civilisation defends itself is a big question because we have to be confident and it's very hard to be as confident as the evil opponent, who is fully confident. I'm talking about Islamic extremism. I'm not talking about Islam. And it's a huge question of how you can prepare our young people or how they can prepare themselves to fight a battle in which they will be in doubt because Western civilisation essentially consists of being in doubt - how they will defend that against an attacker who's not in doubt at all.
 
MARK COLVIN: And your theme has always been humanism. In Cultural Amnesia you use the word many, many, many times and do you feel that that is in retreat?
 
CLIVE JAMES: It's our weapon, but when you think about it, it's not much of a weapon when it comes to a battle. It's got to be part of your inner fortification. Oh, I think probably there is more culture and its concern about culture and study of culture in the world now than there ever was. There may be a certain quality shift - qualitative shift happening because of the web because we might be in a position where everything - everything is written down but nobody has read it. The amount of knowledge available is infinite, but nobody knows anything. I don't know quite what to do about that except to try and construct a good website. But, no, I'm sure Western civilisation will come through. It's actually got the things that the opponent wants and the opponent can't help wanting them.

MARK COLVIN:
Well I loathe departure lounges, but on this one occasion I will say: may your stay in the departure lounge be a very long one.
 
CLIVE JAMES: (Laughs) That's very, very, very kind of you. I know exactly what you mean.
 
MARK COLVIN: The writer Clive James. I'm still hoping for another rematch next year. This has been a Radio Current Affairs summer special. I'm Mark Colvin. Thanks for being with me.

 
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Re: Clive James on ABC (Australia)
« Reply #6: 20.01.16 at 07:53 »
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Abundance in a Small Space: the poetry of Clive James
[podcast KC]
 
Saturday 17 May 2014 3:05PM (view full episode)
 
Quote:

Clive James has been writing poetry since the 1950s and his dedication to poetry has continued alongside his more high profile work as a TV host, critic and the writer of Unreliable Memoirs. In fact, James sees himself first and foremost as a poet. He has lived in the UK for five decades and has honorary degrees from the universities of Sydney and East Anglia. In this intimate program, James reads some of his favourite poems, and gives us a glimpse into his life, influences and writing practice. As he faces the biggest challenge of his life - battling two terminal illnesses, leukaemia and emphysema - the ABC’s foreign correspondent Mary Gearin recorded Clive James at his Cambridge house for this Poetica feature.  
 
Supporting Information
 
'Holding Court'
extract from translation of Dante: The Divine Comedy, Picador, 2013  
'Whitman and the Moth', from Nefertiti in the Flak Tower, Picador, 2012
'In Town for the March', from The Book of my Enemy: Collected Verse 1958-2003, Picador, 2004
'Bring Me the Sweat of Gabriela Sabatini'  
'Against Gregariousness'
All works used by permission of United Agents, LLP, on behalf of Clive James.

 

 
 
Image: Clive James, 2007 (Getty Images) Link to larger image.


 

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Re: Clive James on ABC (Australia)
« Reply #7: 16.11.16 at 15:53 »
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Mark Colvin
 
Clive James on the art of songwriting and the work of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen
 
TEXT
 
PM
 By Mark Colvin
 Updated about 7 hours ago
 
Quote:

Bob Dylan may have won the literary world's highest honour but even he knew he did not deserve it as much as Leonard Cohen, legendary Australian poet, author, critic and songwriter Clive James says.
 
James is just one of a number who have argued the late Canadian singer and poet was a more deserving recipient of this year's Nobel Prize.
 
"Even at the time, I thought Leonard Cohen should have this," he said.
 
"I've got a feeling that Dylan probably feels the same, because Cohen was the perfect literary songwriter."
 
Cohen died on Friday, aged 82 after a career spanning both literature and music, prompting a stream of tributes on social media.
 
Speaking to PM, James said he was pleased Dylan was recognised as a literary giant, although he thought Cohen should have won the award.
 
He admitted he did not immediately warm to Cohen's music the first time he heard it, but grew to love it.
 
"I was a long time getting onto Cohen, because of the first songs," he said.
 
"It wasn't until one line caught me that I realised that we might be dealing with something exceptional.
 
"He's singing to himself, 'That's a funeral in the mirror, and it's stopping at your face', and I thought 'holy smoke, that's good'.
 
"I thought that was terrific, and I started changing my opinion of him and have gone on listening to him all my life. I'm terribly sorry that he's gone."
 
Songwriting 'takes more concentration than anything'
 
James, who among many other things recorded several albums of his own music, said Cohen was never an influence on his work so much as a "possibility".
 
"I saw them all (artists of that era) as possibilities — they were all opening up paths," he said.
 
"The question was whether you wanted to follow the path, but you don't want to copy someone and I don't think I ever did.
 
"It wasn't a matter of copying, it was a matter of realising the possibilities."
 
James, who for a decade wrote musings on television for the Observer newspaper in the UK, previously told of his joys of 'binge-watching'.
 
"I never saw him (Dylan) in concert, but when the day came when they were putting whole concerts on television I watched them over and over," he said.
 
"I just adored his work."
 
James continues to be inspired by the "possibilities" of other songs he hears on TV in the same way he was by the music of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
 
"That's still happening — I still hear something extraordinary on TV and I see a possibility, and I rather regret that I'm not writing songs anymore," he said.
 
"But it takes a lot of concentration. Paradoxically it takes more concentration than anything because you can let a poem go anywhere, but a song has to be kept within strict bounds of narrative and 'singability'.
 
"And I think I lack the concentration for it now.
 
"In my own career, songwriting is always regarded as a secondary thing. But in my view, it's the most important thing I do."


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Re: Clive James on ABC (Australia)
« Reply #8: 16.11.16 at 18:28 »
Quote

Transcript correction:

"I never saw him (Dylan) in concert, but when the day came when they were putting whole concerts on television I watched them over and over," he said.  
   
should read:
 
 "I never saw him (Cohen) in concert, but when the day came when they were putting whole concerts on television I watched them over and over," he said.  
 
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