Clive James

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Oh, love is real enough; you will find it someday, but it has one archenemy—and that is life.
Jean Anouilh Ardele
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Clive James (born 1939-10-07) is an expatriate Australian writer, poet, essayist, critic, and commentator on popular culture.

See also criticism quotes under Brideshead Revisited, Murray Walker.


  • I see the pain on your face when you say the word intellectual, because it has so many syllables in it.
    • from an interview with Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report"
  • I think the control I had over my work was less than adequate. There was nothing wrong with the good bits in my poems, it’s just that they were packed around with lots and lots of bad bits, and I think that the only way I’ve improved in the last several decades [. . .] is that I’ve learned to leave out the bad bits. I’m not sure you do improve beyond that.
    • from a conversartion with Peter Porter broadcast on ABC Radio, Australia in the program 'Book Talk' on Saturday 15 October 2005
  • On W. H. Auden ...
    His later manner leaves your neck-hair flat,
    Not standing up as Housman said it should
    When poetry has been achieved. For that,
    In old age Auden simply grew too good.
    • from the poem 'What Happened to Auden'
  • The controls fell easily to hand, and from there onto the floor.
    • On the Trabant. From Clive James' Postcard from Berlin.

Visions Before Midnight

Reprints of selected television reveiws from The Observer, published by Jonathan Cape in 1977.

  • Every week I watch Stuart Hall on It's A Knock-Out and realise with renewed despair that the most foolish thing I ever did was to turn in my double-0 licence and hand back that Walther PPK with the short silencer.
    • 'Edie Waring Communicates'

Glued to the Box

Reprints of selected television reviews from The Observer 1979 to 1982.

  • Shaw said that three years as a theatre critic was the maximum before insanity set in - the implication being that anyone who lasted longer than that was too dull to be unbalanced by his nightly ordeal.
  • Give or take the odd anatomical discrepancy, John Berger affects me exactly like Jane Fonda - ie. any opinion of mine which I discover he shares I immediately examine to find out what's wrong with it.

The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered

Poem published in several anthologies, and in The Book of My Enemy: Collected verse 1958 - 2003, ISBN 0330432052.

  • The book of my enemy has been remaindered
    And I am pleased
    In vast quantities it has been remaindered.
    • Opening lines.
  • Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,
    Though not to the monumental extent
    In which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted out
    To the book of my enemy,
    Since in the case of my own book it will be due
    To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error -
    Nothing to do with merit.
    • Start of last stanza.

Song Lyrics

  • From "Payday Evening" (sung by Pete Atkin on The Road of Silk 1974)
Outside the junkie tries to sell his girl
Her face has just begun to come apart
Look hard and you can see the edges curl
Speed has got her beaten at the start
  • from the same song
In midnight voices softer than a dove's
We shall speak superbly
Of our lost loves
  • From "Beware of the Beautiful Stranger". title song of 1970 album, sung by Pete Atkin.
"You live in a dream and the dream is a cage"
Said the girl "And the bars nestle closer with age
Your shadow burned white by invisible fire
You will learn how it rankles to die of desire
As you long for the beautiful stranger"
Said the vanishing beautiful stranger

External links

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