Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Reader's question: Kenneth Clarke's 1970's Civilisation series, what do you think?

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My response: I bought this fairly recently. There is much good in it, and - compared with nowadays - the ambition, density and scope are very impressive, the style uncompromising.

However, I do feel a bit disappointed. My feeling was that overall the series does not go anywhere or point at anything.

Ultimately, Clarke comes across as 'an aesthete' albeit highly knowledgeable and sensitive to quality - and this an ultimately weak and ineffectual position; I know, in retrospect, that it was easily corrupted among those whose priority was to remain within the establishment.

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