Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Moving Finger, Having Wit

[posted by Callimachus]

Christopher Hitchens reviews Clive James' memoirs, so you know it's going to be a star-turn of pith and wit. Wits are in that class of performers who can shamelessly show off and you feel that's what you came for.

Hitchens pulls out a few delightful surprises from his bottomless sack of literary anecdotes for this one:

The great Peter De Vries, when asked about the nature of his ambition, replied that he yearned for a mass audience that would be large enough for his elite audience to despise.


One of the “stars” of that snack, Martin Amis, once rebuked someone for being in want of a sense of humour, and added that by saying this he meant very deliberately to impugn the man’s seriousness.


Thus it’s brave of him to stand by the original version of his much-misquoted image of Arnold Schwarzenegger (it was “a brown condom stuffed with walnuts”) against subsequent plagiarism and dilution.