Cultural Amnesia

Clive James

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12 April 2012
9780330481755
912 pages
Synopsis

In this book can be heard the merest edge of an enormous conversation. As they never were in life, we can imagine the speakers all gathered in some vast room, wearing name tags in case they don’t recognize each other (although some recognize each other all too well, and avoid contact). My heroes and heroines are here.

An almanac combining a comprehensive survey of modern culture with an annotated index of who-was-who and what-was-what, Cultural Amnesia is Clive James’s unique take on the places and the faces that shaped the twentieth-century. From Anna Akhmatova to Stefan Zweig, via Charles de Gaulle, Hitler, Thomas Mann and Wittgenstein, this varied and unfailingly absorbing book is both story and history, both public memoir and personal record – and provides an essential field-guide to the vast movements of taste, intellect, politics and delusion that helped to prepare the times we live in now.

[A] fabulously gifted, enviably well-read, generously inclusive, and always commonsensical writer

John Banville, New York Review of Books

One stupendous starburst of wild brilliance.

Simon Schama

Aphoristic and acutely provocative: a crash course in civilization.

J. M. Coetzee