I can speak and read only one language, English, a very long time ago I was taught, French, Latin and Greek, only a few scattered crumbs remain in my mind, mainly French. On the positive side English as a lingua franca is spoken on every continent in the world which makes me an  extremely lucky person. Some state that it is the dominance  of the mighty cultural influence of the United States of America, this influence cannot be denied but the words are ENGLISH; the grammar, phrases, spelling and meaning vary from the language spoken and written in the Old Country. Nevertheless the words which derive from many languages, all those strange, wonderful, varied and beautiful words are English. There are some writers whose skill with these words is an inspiration and a compendium of delights, is Clive James. I have listened to him on the radio, watched him on TV and am now reading his books.

The book I picked up in the last few days is “Cultural Amnesia- Notes In The Margin Of  My Time.”  I say picked up but levered might be a more apt title, it contains 876 pages. It has been in the house for some time my concentration level has been somewhat fluctuating. Clive James’ time is my time. All  the other factors are in Clive’s favour, intelligence, education a varied and well travelled life, huge ability to make complicated ideas easy to understand and elegant prose that makes me want to go on reading the next page, the next and the next until my eyelids droop and I realise that I  haven’t understood the last paragraph and I’m are almost asleep.

This is James writing about his mind:” —– a trail of clarities illuminating a dark sea of unrelenting turbulence, like the phosphorescent wake of a phantom ship. far from a single argument, there would be scores of arguments. I wanted to write about philosophy, history, politics and the arts all at once, and what happened to those things during the course of the multiple catastrophes whose second principal outburst ( World War 1 was the first) I had been born in 1939, which continued to shake the world as I grew to adulthood.”

I too have lived through that same period, although in England not Australia. I was born in 1938, the same year that Austria agreed to become part of the Greater German Empire. His prose is almost poetry, every word in exactly the place it should be, his illustrations and connections are illuminated by his wide reading and understanding of the time in which we live. I must return to the book now.


3 thoughts on “WORDS, WORDS, WORDS.

  1. I do enjoy Clive James! I remember learning French and Latin at school, I was awful at both! That certainly does sound a good book. Hope all is well with you and yours.xxx

  2. Hi, thank you for your good wishes, hubs is in recovery mode and I have my trusty stick. Gosh I’m still making mistakes, heard on the radio yesterday Michael Rosen on the subject of language, we incorporated a lot of French words, anglicised the pronunciation and now call them English!!! Even now when we want to seem intelligent we incorporate a French expression, n’est pas?

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