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Clive Vivian Leopold James, AO CBE FRSL
October 7th 1939 November 24th 2019


Newcomers to this site will soon discover, I hope, that it is meant to be rather more than an archive of my own work. It started out that way, but merciful Providence intervened to remind me that my belated brain-wave might be more useful if I could put a lifetime’s experience as a cultural critic to a new use, and so offer a critical guide, through the next medium, to works of thought and art by other people, and sometimes in other eras. The only criterion for inclusion would be intensity of expression, with the aim of creating, in this latterday Babelic flux we call the web, an island of quality where every word is meant, and every image meaningful. Where there was music, it would be music I responded to because I couldn’t help it, and not because I thought I should. Clearly such a scope, even allowing for my prejudices, is without theoretical limit, so I shall be a doddering cot-case before the thing barely gets started, but I am very glad to have been in on its beginnings.

After a large-scale rebuild in late 2009 to rationalise the structure, the site was all set for some heavy loading, but annoyingly I fell ill in early 2010 and all work except for routine maintenance had to slow right down. There were a couple of long winters during which I had hardly any spare energy. But now I find myself getting up to speed again, and keen-eyed regular viewers will notice that there has already been augmentation in some sections: some of the Guest Poets, for example, have acquired links to critical articles about their work. I hope there will be a lot more of that sort of thing to come, always with the aim of increasing the scope while maintaining the quality. But none of it would be possible without the practical know-how of my webmaster Dawn Mancer, who understands how the machines work. What that must be like, I can’t even begin to imagine. All I knew, when I first saw them in action twenty years ago, was they might be persuaded to build something that would go on unfolding as it flew, powered by nothing except the spirit of curiosity.

Clive James, Cambridge, June 2013


The Good Web Guide reviews this site

Clivejames.com is a generous and wonderful delight: this is the future for cultural multi-media websites... it ought to be a spur to an artistic renaissance on the internet... beautifully designed... In Audio there are fascinating dialogues. The (Video) archive  a treasurehouse of wit and insight.