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Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Artsby Clive James
Synopses & Reviews
In 2010, Clive James was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. Deciding that “if you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do,” James moved his library to his house in Cambridge, where he would “live, read, and perhaps even write.” James is the award-winning author of dozens of works of literary criticism, poetry, and history, and this volume contains his reflections on what may well be his last reading list. A look at some of James’s old favorites as well as some of his recent discoveries, this book also offers a revealing look at the author himself, sharing his evocative musings on literature and family, and on living and dying.
As thoughtful and erudite as the works of Alberto Manguel, and as moving and inspiring as Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture and Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club, this valediction to James’s lifelong engagement with the written word is a captivating valentine from one of the great literary minds of our time.
Forty years in the making, a new cultural canon that celebrates truth over hypocrisy, literature over totalitarianism.
"I can't remember when I've learned as much from something I've read--or laughed as much while doing it."--Jacob Weisberg,
An esteemed literary critic shares his final musings on books, his children, and his own impending death
Echoing Edward Said"s belief that 'Western humanism is not enough, we need a universal humanism,' the renowned critic Clive James presents here his life"s work. Containing over one hundred original essays, organized by quotations from A to Z, Cultural Amnesiailluminates, rescues, or occasionally destroys the careers of many of the greatest thinkers, humanists, musicians, artists, and philosophers of the twentieth century. In discussing, among others, Louis Armstrong, Walter Benjamin, Sigmund Freud, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, James writes, 'If the humanism that makes civilization civilized is to be preserved into the new century, it will need advocates. These advocates will need a memory, and part of that memory will need to be of an age in which they were not yet alive.' Soaring to Montaigne-like heights, Cultural Amnesiais precisely the book to burnish these memories of a Western civilization that James fears is nearly lost.
Finally in paperback after six hardcoverprintings, this international bestseller is anencyclopedic A-Z masterpiece-the perfectintroduction to the very core of Westernhumanism. Clive James rescues, or occasionallydestroys, the careers of many of the greatestthinkers, humanists, musicians, artists, andphilosophers of the twentieth century. Soaringto Montaigne-like heights, CulturalAmnesia is precisely the book to burnishthese memories of a Western civilization thatJames fears is nearly lost.
About the Author
Clive James, the author of numerous books of criticism, autobiography, and poetry, writes for the New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker. He lives in London.
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