Our Neighbors and the Ground Beneath Us
We are very pleased to present you with this issue of the University Bookman. As befitting a quarterly devoted to serious books, the reviews cover numerous subjects with, we believe, learning and clear writing in explication of the major issues of our age.
Continuing our interest in examining conservatism in other countries, two reviews bring us the conservatism of Russia and France, respectively. Ethan Davey concentrates on three recent Russian books, and speculates on the chances of a real conservative revival in that troubled land. Thierry Giaccardi espies his native country of France from the green shores of Ireland, whence he sends his penetrating review of a new encyclopedia of the Right in France. Edited by the somewhat controversial Alain de Benoist, it is perhaps the antithesis of that early product of the Enlightenment, the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert.
Rounding out our survey, Robert Cheeks directs our attention to Roger Scruton, a British philosopher whose writings are provocative at times even to conservatives, among whom in Britain he is a leading light. His recent book, Notes from Somewhere: On Settling, presents a principled and imaginative defense of living on a human scale. He joins Wendell Berry in this country, among others, in rejecting the intellectual phantasms of people without history, affections, or tradition. Scruton’s work illustrates that the Permanent Things are not airy abstractions, but as real as our neighbors and the ground beneath us.
The relative absence of Shakespeare is perhaps the oddest lacuna in Russell Kirk’s work. That is too bad: Kirk could have done much with Shakespeare, in whose plays much of our linguistic and theatrical tradition were preserved and strengthened. Fortunately, Jeff Cain and R. V. Young are learned in the works of the Bard, and provide reviews of recent books seeking to get at the “real” Shakespeare.
Among the things Kirk did write and that he did write well about, and well, were ghost stories. Kirk recognized that such stories, at their best, reveal a glimpse of the eternal that lay behind everyday existence, an insight sorely needed in a world that has supposedly rejected the realm beyond the material. We include here his important essay, “A Cautionary Note on the Ghostly Tale.” Andrew Newman, who has written perceptively on Kirk’s fiction, here reviews a collection of classic ghost stories very much in Kirk’s spirit.
There is much more besides in this issue. We hope you enjoy it.
Gerald J. Russello
Posted: March 18, 2007 in Editor’s Notes.