What makes Roger Scruton so distinctive a figure on the British intellectual landscape is the extraordinary range of his interests and sympathies – aesthetics, architecture, farming, hunting, literature, music, philosophy and, above all, religion. They are mediated through a sensibility that combines erudition, moral seriousness, and what seems very like wisdom. Inevitably those virtues have ensured Scruton’s malicious exclusion from British academia, although one wonders whether he would be content in that small world of envious drones and ‘wacky women’, and of thought reduced to outcomes, outputs and league tables.
Gentle Regrets is an episodic biography of Scruton’s intellectual odyssey. It is a very fine book, brimming with humanity and intelligence, and beautifully produced by one of Britain’s most interesting publishers, even if they contrive not to publicise their own books. Scruton explores the two personalities epitomised by his Christian