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He has more than 20 books under his belt, which include two weighty collections of essays even as we speak, and most recently Reliable Essays.And in the last month he's taken his passions for the things such as Shakespeare and the normally reluctant interviewee Martin Amis onto the Internet.
James starts out by stating Waugh was “the supreme writer of English prose in the 20th century”. Then the rest of the essay descends into a discussion about the grammatical errors in the prose of the writer Anthony Powell, which merely informs us how knowledgeable James is about dangling modifiers rather than helping readers to appreciate why Waugh occupies classic status. In his essay on Charles de Gaulle, in which he quotes de Gaulle’s words on the death, aged 20, of his daughter Anne, who had been born with severe Down’s syndrome and who died in his arms, he concludes, “Nothing is more likely to civilise a powerful man than the presence in his house of an injured one his power can’t help.
Every night he comes home to a reminder that God is not mocked: a cure for invincibility.” That is well said.
You look just the way you look on the television - it's quite uncanny!
Clive James: That's what Margherita said the last time I talked to her.
Thanks to a suggestion from a post following my recent blog about Stefan Zweig, I have been dipping into Clive James’s book, Cultural Amnesia.
James says that it took him 40 years to write this distillation of his reflections on the personalities encountered during his life through their books or, more occasionally, through their politics, their films or their music.
But then he veers off course for a long discussion about the possible merits of the actress Natalie Portman playing Sophie in a future Hollywood biopic.
This is bad taste and is also irrelevant; there is a fine film already made: Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, which I urge readers to see.
The people one meets in these short essays, arranged alphabetically, are not limited to the living or to the western world – though the emphasis is on 20th century European writers.
They are an eclectic bunch, including authors I knew such as Kafka, Thomas Mann, Camus etc (and many I didn’t, such as Peter Altenberg, Ernst Robert Curtius, Virgilio Pognoni and so on), as well as characters like Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel, Duke Ellington, Hitler and Margaret Thatcher.