Sir Kenneth Clark

The young Kenneth Clark
Sir Kenneth Clark

Snobbish. Arrogant. Cultural Imperialist. Misogynist. Kenneth Clark’s CIVILISATION a 1969 documentary series and worldwide hit for the BBC preceded the attacks (most justified) leveled against the narrator in succeeding years. Born to wealth and privilege, Clark had no hesitation anointing Western Civilization as the highest known to man.

The 13-part series began with three episodes that provide Clark’s take on the Middle Ages. ‘The Skin Our Teeth,’ ‘The Great Thaw,’ and ‘Romance and Realty’ look down at this seminar from Olympian heights. Though I preface these with caveats that never occurred to me in 1968, it’s a pleasure walking through Chartres with a connoisseur of the Old School. These episodes are available on Amazon Prime

or YouTube.

Looking back on his career Clark offered a perspective that helps make up for some of his failings…

I hold a number of beliefs that have been repudiated by the liveliest intellects of our time. I believe that order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology.

Sir Kenneth Clark

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