The Metropolitan Critic
In 1974 The Metropolitan Critic started a new trend in cultural comment which has since become an orthodoxy. The young Clive James was the first journalist in London to talk about high culture and pop culture in the same all-consuming, sparkling style.
Even at that early stage, the learning behind his literary high-wire act was formidable: a portent of the wide-ranging erudition that in subsequent years was to back up his further volumes of critical prose and the television column that made him famous. An extra delight of this edition is a set of self-critical footnotes which combine with a nostalgic introduction to evoke what literary London was like when the author, low on salary but high on hope, was making his spectacular start.
‘This splendid collection of literary essays . . . the opening essay on Edmund Wilson is almost like a preliminary schema by which we are invited to judge the rest of the book. He demonstrates over and over again that he shares, in varying degrees, all the high qualities which he admires so much in Wilson . . . like any first-rate critic, he much prefers praising to blaming . . . Mr James is a very formidable metropolitan indeed’ Philip Toynbee, Observer
‘His escape from the tyranny of Good Plain English – a long twisting run which has brought him to his present position as one of the most highly readable commentators operating in the British Isles’ Sunday Times