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Paperback Civilization (Civilisation; A Personal View) Book

ISBN: 0719522404

ISBN13: 9780719522406

Civilization (Civilisation; A Personal View)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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5 ratings

A very civilized survey of Western art and architecture

This is a very civilized survey of the highlights of Western art and architecture. Lord Clark an art- historian by profession writes with skill, taste and humor. In the opening of the book he quotes Ruskin as saying that " great nations write their autobigraphies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood without reading the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last" This is the line that Lord Clark adopts as he focuses primarily on the art works and the architecture. But his survey is at all points learned insightful cultured and a pleasure to read.

A treasure of a book

If I had to chose 5 books for eternity, this would be one. I first read it as a recent college grad when it was published in the early '70's. It helped estabish my view of western civilization and art. I have scoured used book stores for copies to give to others and I am pleased it is again available. I treasure this volume and would be lost without it.


Lord Kenneth Clark (1903-1983), English art historian and past director of the British National Gallery in London (1934-1945) reacted to the ominous signs of world cultural and political revolution which characterized the 1960's by writing scripts for, narrating, and personally appearing in a 13 hour British Broadcasting Corporation produced-for-television documentary series titled simply CIVILISATION (1969). The television documentary series he created was actually intended to discourage revolutionary thought and activity (Lord Clark's final pontifical message delivered at the very end of the final episode of the series), and thus could and should be regarded as a predictable bit of [...] delivered by one of the then high priests of the British Establishment defending property and privilege of the monied classes. Even so, a curious and wonderful side effect resulted from Clark's effort. Clark's very effective tactic in lending grave authority to his final anti-revolution message was to summarize in considerable detail great efforts of civilized peoples over roughly 1500 years of European history as reflected and demonstrated by works of great art and architecture. He guides us from the "dark" part of the middle ages to the present (1960's) and offers his considerable expertise and familiarity with high points of "civilisation" reflected by great works of art, and in so doing creates himself, in a low key, charming British way, as an authority on his overall subject. When his final message discouraging revolutionary thought and activity is delivered gravely during the last 10 minutes of the 13 hour documentary film effort, the implicit point is that all the great creators of art seen in the previous 13 hours would agree with Kenneth Clark's anti-revolutionary sentiments. Well, one can't blame monied, propertied, and privileged people for moving to protect their enviable situations through efforts like Kenneth Clark's CIVILISATION (1969). The revolutionary fervor of the times he was worried about, now almost half a century past, died down, and the forces he represented so skillfully in CIVILISATION certainly got and held the "upper hand" in the decades which followed the 60's. The smashing of the revolutionary spirit of the 1960's no doubt owes a great deal to the likes of Kenneth Clark and films/books like CIVILISATION (1969). New York City historian Rick Perlstein recently wrote a book about how the widespread liberal consensus of the 1960's was reversed by the efforts of Barry Goldwater and his supporters. The fact is that many efforts were made to change the trends of those times, and arguably, those efforts succeeded. All of this said, Lord Kenneth Clark created the very best and most digestable tour of the truly great works of European art and architecture ever produced before or since. Regardless of one's opinion of his political and social motives, the 12 hours and 50 minutes which came BEFORE his final 1


Mr. Clark's book and video series are really outstanding! He provides a very good overview of Western art and culture from the Dark Ages to the 20th century, with beautiful images and some profound statements about civilization and human nature in general, which can be applied to Western and Non-Western societies. Mr. Clark's humane ideas shine through. The book and videos are worthwhile for anyone, from children to adults, and those in academics could learn some things from it too. The book by itself is worthwhile, but if you have a chance, the videos are especially rewarding with their musical selections and photography.

Remarkable, Outstanding, A Must Read

This is the best book I have read on the subject of the art and culture, it should be recommended to anyone interested in history of art, music, architecture, and sociology. The Author's humanistic approach could be very useful in our busy and competitious time. It reminds us once again that human problems do not change in time, it is our approach toward them that defines us as personalities and as societies. "The Civilization" shows that human race has huge ancestry, which must not be forgotten, but used for good.
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