The Art of Invective: Selected Non-Fiction 1953–94 by Dennis Potter (Edited by Ian Greaves, David Rolinson & John Williams) - review by Jonathan Meades

Jonathan Meades

Box of Delights

The Art of Invective: Selected Non-Fiction 1953–94


Oberon Books 397pp £24.99 order from our bookshop

In his preface to Visions Before Midnight, Clive James recalls a conversation with the stage-door Johnny, Kenneth Tynan: ‘When, he asked, would I be turning my critical gaze away from television and towards its proper object, the theatre? Never, was my reply … Tynan was thunderstruck.’ On the back cover of this marvellously energetic collection, Trevor Griffiths observes, ‘It remains a scandal that because you worked in television, you are somehow downgraded. You don’t belong in the category of high art. Well, Dennis does if anybody does.’ [1pass]

A priori, this snobbism about television is all too easy to explain. The medium is irremediably contaminated by its galère of freaks, kiddy fiddlers and necrophiles. Anyone who essays originality or the non-generic or programmes that demand concentration and fail in their formulaic duty offends against the laws of populism,

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