on 26 October 2001
Scruton is not a reactionary; do not be put off by his columms which often suggest outraged sentimentality: the worst kind. The IRA thrive on that diet.
The book is well researched; the prose is never stodgy; the arguments and summaries never make you feel uncomfortable; and the impulses behind the writing of 'England' are never mean spirited.
Scruton deplores jingoism. He derides the same type of verse and prose which Wilfred Owen vilified in 'Dulce et decorum est'. Henry Newbolt for example comes in for some incendiary commentary.
Scruton celebrates the inventiveness; the quirkiness; the randomness; the intellectual acuity; the bovine stubborness; the bravery; the foolishness of Englishness. The lament to institutions is particularly telling. The atrophy of aspects of nature as a result of insipid urban sprawl made me sigh. Societies which 'protect' birds, he notes, can only powerlessly report on their decline.
Scruton helpfully 'anatomises' the concept of Englishness which I, for one, didn't wholly understand.
Patriotism need not be the last resort of the scoundrel. I am not a scoundrel and, in spite of what you might think about Scruton's journalism, neither is he.
on 10 January 2001
Roger Scruton has penned an important - and possibly definitive - contribution vis-a-vis the developing debate on 'Englishness'. He examines the core areas of the English polity and national psyche in eleven chapters, and does so with refreshing intellectual rigour. Mr Scruton provides many fascinating insights, often illuminated by poignant personal recollections. Neither too dry and 'academic' nor too 'populist' and sentimental, this is an unusual, sad and illuminating 'elegy', but an elegy it certainly is. For anyone interested in England, the English, or the United Kingdom today, it provides invaluable reading. I highly reccommend it.