At the Pillars of Hercules

Clive James

10 April 2014
224 pages


His second book of cultural criticism, At the Pillars of Hercules sees Clive James take on artists from W. H. Auden to Lillian Hellman, and from T. S. Eliot to Norman Mailer, in a collection that confirmed his reputation as a writer of entertaining, insightful essays.

Named for a now much-missed Soho pub that was long the regular haunt of literary Londoners, this collection sees James discuss contemporary poetry, aesthetics and the theory and practice of criticism, the popular novel, and the literature of modern history and politics. It is a fascinating time capsule of the literary 1970s, as well as an illuminating and wide-ranging work of cultural criticism.

Clive James's inimitable wit and candour are ever present in this collection, featuring a previously unpublished introduction.

Clive James
(1939–2019) was a broadcaster, critic, poet, memoirist and novelist. His much-loved, influential and hilarious television criticism is available both in individual volumes and collected in Clive James On Television. His encyclopaedic study of culture and politics in the twentieth century, Cultural Amnesia, remains perhaps the definitive embodiment of his wide-ranging talents as a critic.

Praise for Clive James:

'The perfect critic' – A.O. Scott, New York Times

'There can't be many writers of my generation who haven't been heavily influenced by Clive James' – Charlie Brooker

'A wonderfully witty and intelligent writer' – Verity Lambert