Death of a critic

Death of a critic


norman lebrecht

November 27, 2019

In news released on the same day as Jonathan Miller’s death, Clive James has died, aged 80.

Both earned their living at television, for a while. Both came to hate the medium.

Here they are together.

Clive James was an Australian-born poet, critic and TV host. He died on Sunday. The funeral was held today in Cambridge.



  • Dr Presume says:

    He died on Sunday, actually – the funeral was today, and they kept his death quiet until after the funeral.

  • Dennis says:

    RIP. Reminds me I should revisit his great 2007 book, “Cultural Amnesia.”

  • Mock Mahler says:

    Clive James certainly has one of the most interesting Wikipedia pages. It starts with “being allowed” (?) to change his birth name from Vivan so as not to be confused with the star of ‘Gone With the Wind,’ goes on to being thrown out of the marital house after Australian tv claimed a long-term affair, and ends with a statement that he was embarrassed at still being alive due to experimental medical treatment.

  • MacroV says:

    I loved one of his shows seen in the U.S. – I think it was “Postcards from…” I recall a show from Chicago. Sort of like Anthony Bourdain’s show, without the food. Seemed like quite a character.

  • V. Lind says:

    RIP Clive James, who was a lot more than a “poet, critic and TV host.” He was a novelist, memoirist, scholar, translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and polymath. His language danced upon every subject he touched, and left indelible memories to those who read him. An uber-mensch.

    It is a black day indeed, as we read of his death an funeral on the same day we read of Jonathan Miller’s passing — two of the greatest “influencers” of their times, long before that silly word gained traction.

    And, in the context, another popular figure — Gary Rhodes– also gone today. Not a cultural icon, perhaps, but someone who did some good in his field, and had legions of admirers. Sadly, he went before his time — Messrs. James and Miller at least reached their ninth decades.

    It is a very Novembrous day.

  • Derek says:

    R.I.P. Clive James.

    He was bright, amusing and had a brilliant way with words.

    A very entertaining writer and at ease with the intellectual, the popular or the comical.

  • Hilary says:

    Clive James’s encounter with Leonard Bernstein in a TV interview makes for a salacious anecdote, and very much apposite for the content of SD :

    I liked the sound of his voice. RIP

  • Alasdair Munro says:

    I will always remember his skewering of Rajneesh aka “the Bagwash”.