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England: An Elegy Hardcover – 5 Oct 2000
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Following in the footsteps of distinguished books such as Peter Laslett's The World We Have Lost and Julian Barnes' England, England, Roger Scruton's England: An Elegy is a deeply personal lament for the disappearance of the England of his childhood. "Having been famous for their stoicism, their decorum, their honesty, their gentleness and their sexual puritanism, the English now subsist in a society in which those qualities are no longer honoured, a society of people who regard long-term loyalties with cynicism, and whose response to misfortune is to look around for someone to sue". The result is a deeply personal account of Scruton's own life, his complex relationship with his disillusioned socialist father, who "loved what was local, collegial and attached to the land", and a wide-ranging historical and philosophical meditation on English character, community, religion, law, society, government, culture and the countryside. England: An Elegy is an impassioned defence of monarchy, religion and home, against the ^"anti-English hullabaloo" that Scruton detects in a climate of devolution and European federalism. He writes with his typically intelligent and sceptical conservatism, but this is a deeply pessimistic and elitist book, that will only delight right-wing Eurosceptics. The book has a tendency to demolish Marxist views on nationhood through rhetoric rather than evidence, and its historical scope is simply too large and vague to offer a serious account of Englishness as a social and political phenomenon. Scruton offers no answers to England's dilemmas, arguing simply to be allowed to mourn the death of England, and that "to describe something as dead is not to call for its resurrection". Many readers might find that England: An Elegy is a fitting epitaph to a world that we are glad to have lost, if it ever really existed. --Jerry Brotton
'Lovers of England and the English will find themselves reading this long farewelll with constant exclamations of agreement and flashes of new understanding...The most powerful and touching parts of it are snatches of Scruton's own autobiography.' --Peter Hitchens, Express on Sunday --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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