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Gentle Regrets: Thoughts from a Life

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0826480330
ISBN-10: 0826480330
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Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

Scruton is an English philosopher best known for vigorously defending traditional culture in works like "England: An Elegy" and "The Meaning of Conservatism." His latest book assembles twelve "autobiographical excursions" into a composite account of his intellectual development. In addition to neatly expository essays ("How I Discovered Culture") and a sequence of poems entitled "Miss Hap," the collection includes a reminiscence of the "sleeping cities" of the Eastern bloc and an acute meditation on beauty and religious faith. The blunt wit for which Scruton is known is scarce here, but lyric suits him almost as well as polemic. Such passages as the evocation of a chapel filled with the "soft smell of stone that has grown old in shadow" vividly illuminate the moral import of aesthetic values.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'A practised and elegant writer'The Independent

'The autobiographical musings of a conservative intellectual who refuses to wear his learning lightly.'The Sunday telegraph

a very fine book, brimming with humanity and intelligence
(Michael Burleigh Literary Review)

Scruton is an English philosopher best known for vigorously defending traditional culture in works like "England: An Elegy" and "The Meaning of Conservatism." His latest book assembles twelve "autobiographical excursions" into a composite account of his intellectual development. In addition to neatly expository essays ("How I Discovered Culture") and a sequence of poems entitled "Miss Hap," the collection includes a reminiscence of the "sleeping cities" of the Eastern bloc and an acute meditation on beauty and religious faith. The blunt wit for which Scruton is known is scarce here, but lyric suits him almost as well as polemic. Such passages as the evocation of a chapel filled with the "soft smell of stone that has grown old in shadow" vividly illuminate the moral import of aesthetic values.



"The record of an extraordinary life"
"contains many memorable portraits of Scruton's friends, teachers, inspirations, antagonists
"the central teaching of this wise and companionable book is that the acknowledgement of loss is not the end the prelude to the possession of joy"
(National Review)

"...Gentle Regrets, Scruton's wistful, magnanimous, and ineluctably intelligent memoir."- National Review, March 27, 2006

(National Review)

'[A] book of unforgettable reflections on childhood, schooling, music, opera, religion and love...[a] highly personal series of wistful reflections.' (A. N. Wilson, Times Literary Supplement, 18/08/2006 Times Literary Supplement)

Title mention in article by Roger Scruton on Chomsky.
Wall Street Journal [Europe], 29/09/2006
(The Wall Street Journal)

'Gentle Regrets, his memoir, is far more than a collection of fertile ideas: it's the colourful story of a learned man's life and the argued attempt to help other reclaim treasures of mind and soul that are being relegated to the discard bin....Scruton has produced a minor classic, a searching treatment of his own spirit in conflict with the spirit of age.' (David Castronovo, Commonweal, September 2006)

"...a penetrating self-examination that is oftenremorseless and poignant, while presenting what may be the finest contemporaryexample of one man's resistance to 'personal and social disorders of this age."- Philosophy Now

a very fine book, brimming with humanity and intelligence
(Sanford Lakoff Literary Review)

"The record of an extraordinary life"
"contains many memorable portraits of Scruton's friends, teachers, inspirations, antagonists
"the central teaching of this wise and companionable book is that the acknowledgement of loss is not the end the prelude to the possession of joy"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"…Gentle Regrets, Scruton’s wistful, magnanimous, and ineluctably intelligent memoir."- National Review, March 27, 2006

(Sanford Lakoff)

'Gentle Regrets, his memoir, is far more than a collection of fertile ideas: it's the colourful story of a learned man's life and the argued attempt to help other reclaim treasures of mind and soul that are being relegated to the discard bin....Scruton has produced a minor classic, a searching treatment of his own spirit in conflict with the spirit of age.' (Sanford Lakoff)

“…a penetrating self-examination that is oftenremorseless and poignant, while presenting what may be the finest contemporaryexample of one man’s resistance to 'personal and social disorders of this age.”- Philosophy Now
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (May 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826480330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826480330
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
One has to be awed by the range of cultural references in this book of autobiographical essays. Coming from a home which was not interested in books, the young Scruton was captivated by Bunyan at the age of 13. At 15 he was into Rilke and Dante. At 16, he and a group of sixth form friends `declared war on kitsch'. By the time he was a Cambridge undergraduate, inspired by T.S.Eliot, he was into Culture in a big way: he and his friends there were `consciously aiming to better themselves', and were establishing hierarchies among works which were not kitsch: the superiority of Mozart over Vivaldi, Milton over Carew, Titian over Veronese, and - Paul McCartney over Mick Jagger. They were elitists, and as such rebels against left wing rebels who were then fashionable. And an individualistic conservative he remained for the rest of his life.

As a 24 year old he was in Paris, and witnessed the events of 1968. He was an admirer of De Gaulle because the General defined the French nation in terms of its high culture, and he detested Foucault, one the gurus of the students, for his shallow relativism and for teaching that `truth' requires inverted commas.

So he was a defiant fish out of water as a lecturer at Birkbeck College at a time when academia in Britain (unlike in the United States) considered conservatism as an aberration, and when, to find an English conservative philosopher, he had to go back to Edmund Burke. In 1978 Scruton sought a parliamentary seat; but his Burkean philosophy was so unfashionable that he was not selected, and `I ceased to be an intellectual Conservative, and became a conservative intellectual instead'. The chapter called `How I Became a Conservative' is a splendidly vigorous presentation and illustration of his beliefs.
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Format: Paperback
Gentle Regrets seems to be the perfect title for this work. Especially strong are his writings regarding religion and the Catholic Church, ironic since he is not Catholic. It is also evident that he has suffered through the years from the liberal establishment that holds university life in a vice, refusing to even hear, let alone consider, reasoned dissent. His writing is as strong as his philosophical thoughts.
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Format: Paperback
Well, as we all know, Scruton has a very agile intellect, being a dissident in what used to be a very open-minded British society. The trajectory of his life seems to me quite unique.

Scruton has challenged the establishment with the power of his conservative ideas AND ideals - and the Brits went on with their bizzare socialist contrivances. Perhaps it would be too much to compare Scruton to Solzhenitsyn, but there is something brave, noble and extraordinary about this solitary knight. He reminds one of Jan Patocka, as well, the brave anti-Communist Czech philosopher who saw his calling to be something far greater than the petty academic achievements... No wonder why Scruton is so well appreciated by the Eastern European public!

I only wish he could delve more deeply into the early Christian tradition, for which he certainly shows a lot of respect.
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Format: Paperback
It has come to a pretty pass in modern British life that Roger Scruton should be classified as an intellectual dissident. The adage that the right won the economic war, the left the cultural war seems to ring very true when it comes to some one like Scruton. An intellectual pariah, regularly ignored or pilloried in the media (though sometimes justly, such as his notorious cash for tobacco articles scandal a few years back), he is actually an old fashioned intellectual Conservative - which is a complete oxymoron in British Political life. Can anyone name an intellectual Conservative MP in the Commons? Well, perhaps Michael Gove, but that's about it.

Scruton picks out themes from his life. He writes about how he discovered culture with the help of a curious, Larkinesque librarian in High Wycombe with a passion for Mozart; how his political career foundered before it had even begun when he attempted to gain selection for a parliamentary candidacy by mentioning his Conservative 'philosophy' - ouch! Never a good idea amongst the blue rinsers.

He is wryly funny describing a lecture trip to Finland. At first glance it appears as if he is being unnecessarily harsh on the quietly proud, lugubrious Finns, who after all are a minor European nation without the cultural cannons that Scruton can draw on. But after Scruton admitted his efforts to uncover the exact meaning of 'Finlandization' foundered, I did my own brief google search on the term and was none the wiser!
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