Why is Anna Akhmatova's legacy important? What was shameful about Jorge Luis Borges' career? These are the kinds of questions esteemed critic Clive James poses and answers in his new book, Cultural Amnesia, a compendium of the intellectuals, artists, and thinkers who shaped the 20th century. Taken together, the essays—presented in an A-to-Z format—offer a compelling alternative history of the last century and of the struggles of liberal humanism against totalitarianism. Slate published an exclusive selection of these essays adapted for these pages.
"Anna Akhmatova: Assessing the Russian poet and femme fatale." Posted Feb. 5, 2007.
"Jorge Luis Borges: Can a great writer be blind to the world around him?" posted Feb. 7, 2007.
"Dick Cavett: The secret art of the talk-show host." Posted Feb. 9, 2007.
"Sergei Diaghilev: On generosity, artistic slobs, and dressing to kill." Posted Feb. 12, 2007.
"Duke Ellington: The supremacy of swing." Posted Feb. 14, 2007.
"Egon Friedell: The art of conversation." Posted Feb. 16, 2007.
"Terry Gilliam: What Braziltells us about torture today." Posted Feb. 20, 2007.
"Adolf Hitler: How the intellectual climate in Germany shaped the future Führer." Posted Feb. 21, 2007.
"Ernst Jünger: Did he help Hitler rise?" Posted Feb. 23, 2007.