The Crystal Bucket

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First edition (publ. Jonathan Cape)

The Crystal Bucket is the second selection of Clive James's television criticism for The Observer, for which the British Press Awards named him 'Critic of the Year' in 1981: "His contribution to the art and enjoyment of TV criticism over the past ten years has been immense. His work is deeply perceptive, often outrageously funny and always compulsively readable."

First published the same year, the volume covers 1976–79; its title is taken from Walter Raleigh's The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage. It is dedicated to the poet Peter Porter. The compilation ends not with a review but with a tribute to James's friend Joyce Grenfell who had died at the end of November 1979: "Joyce Grenfell's death gave pause for thought to all who knew her. Her faith was profound. So was her humour, which was so devoid of malice that some people called her sentimental. She wasn't. She was just greatly good."

Writing in The Listener, Gavin Ewart expressed the view that James, "didn't get where he is today just by being funny. He is humane, liberal and compassionate.... What he writes is always pertinent and always witty. We owe him a deep debt of gratitude."

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