The Meaning of Recognition

Clive James

01 August 2013
334 pages


Literary critic, cultural commentator, TV personality, journalist, poet, political analyst, satirist and Formula One fan: Clive James is a man (and master) of many talents, and the essays collected in The Meaning of Recognition are testament to that fact.

Whether discussing Bing Crosby, Bruno Schulz or Shakespeare, he manages to prioritize style and substance simultaneously, his tone never less than pitch-perfect, his argument always considered. With each phrase carefully crafted and each piece offering cause for thought, the resulting volume – which takes the reader from London to Bali, theatre to library, from pre-election campaigning to sitting in front of the TV at home, watching The Sopranos and The West Wing – is remarkable not only for its range and insight, but also its intimacy and honesty.

A contemporary everyman, James is also unmistakably himself, and The Meaning of Recognition shows him at his witty, learned – and heartfelt – best.

His other essay collections include The Crystal Bucket, The Dreaming Swimmer, Snakecharmers in Texas and Even as We Speak.

One of the most lively, shrewd and resourceful essayists currently writing.
With bare-faced political declarations, waspish satire and frankness, he can both get to the heart of a subject and raise a laugh.