Clive James is the author of many books of criticism, autobiography, fiction, and poetry. Among his books are Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts, The Blaze of Obscurity, and A Point of View.


Golden Boy

Things I Didn't Know

by Robert Hughes
Among my generation of aesthetes, bohemians, proto-dropouts, and incipient eternal students at Sydney University in the late 1950s, Robert Hughes was the golden boy. Still drawing and painting in those days, he wrote mainly as a sideline, but his sideline ran rings around his contemporaries, and his good looks and …

Great Days

Dream Stuff

by David Malouf
At an advanced point in his already prolific career, the Australian writer David Malouf has produced a book of fresh beginnings. Nominally a collection of nine short stories, Dream Stuff could just as easily be nine different outlines for new novels, each of them remarkably unlike any novel he has …

Secret Intelligence

Blessings in Disguise

by Alec Guinness
Concealing itself with a squirt of ink, the octopus makes a cloud which if seen from far enough away looks like a revelation. Alec Guinness’s autobiography has been a big hit in his native country. The British value their actor-knights so highly that they bought even Lord Olivier’s autobiography, an …

A Feelthy Penguin

Bawdy Verse: A Pleasant Collection

edited by E.J. Burford
Everything has been done to make this little anthology of off-color verse as repellent as possible. It is subtitled “A Pleasant Collection,” for coyness. On the title page there is a jocular penguin reading a book equipped with a flagrant pair of fake boobs, for vulgarity. Finally there is the …

His Brilliant Career

The Vernacular Republic: Selected Poems

by Les A. Murray
Australia is still a foreign country for everyone including Australians, most of whom live in the cities and rarely penetrate into the hinterland, although in the last quarter-century or so there has been a determined attempt at cultural self-discovery. But most of the discovering has had to be done in …

That Old Black and White Magic

Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard

Photography in Print: Writings from 1816 to the Present

edited by Vicki Goldberg
The flow of photographic images from the past suggests that what we are already experiencing as a deepening flood in the present will seem, in the near future, like a terminal inundation. Most of the theoretical works purporting to find some sort of pattern in the cataract of pictures only …

Laughter in the Dark

The Radiant Future

by Alexander Zinoviev, translated by Gordon Clough

Sans Illusions

by Alexander Zinoviev, translated by Wladimir Berelowitch
Though it deserved all the praise it got, The Yawning Heights was nevertheless of a size bound to tell against its long-term fortune. Its successor, The Radiant Future, treats the same themes at about half the length. It would be nice to think that Zinoviev had now, after recovering from …

Hit Parade

The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse

chosen by Geoffrey Grigson
There are several glaring omissions, but otherwise The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse is one of the best anthologies by the best modern anthologist. Geoffrey Grigson has always had a way of picking plums. His famous anthology of the Thirties, New Verse, remains a good introduction to the póetry of …