As a rule, I tend to try and choose my reading carefully; after all, life is short and I own more books than I’ll ever be able to read (although having so many is something of a comfort in these times of supply chain crises…) However, I do sometimes feel I should step outside my comfort zone more often, and so when Notting Hill Editions kindly offered me a review copy of one of their new essay collections I accepted, realising that I really was challenging myself… The author is Roger Scruton and the book “Confessions of a Heretic”, a collection of his essays. Published by Notting Hill Editions in one of their lovely cloth covered volumes, this is apparently a revised edition (I believe a couple of essays have been removed) and is introduced by Douglas Murray.

Scruton is described as a philosopher and political thinker, and his views are decidedly conservative; mine, fairly obviously, veer to the left. So it was inevitable that our views were unlikely to coincide. Nevertheless I approached the book with an open mind and was prepared to listen to the author, even if I didn’t always agree with him.

The book collects together eleven of Scruton’s works and these range over many topics. From modern art through our relationships with animals, conserving nature and defending the west, Scruton has strong views which he does present very eloquently. And on the odd occasion, I did find myself in slight agreement with him (I *do* wonder about modern art at times!) However, if I’m honest I mostly disagree with his views, and often quite vehemently. He’s a man who approves of Empire and dislikes modern architecture; and I found his views on government unrealistic as he makes the mistake of assuming that all people are capable of making reasoned decisions and behaving rationally. Scruton’s discussion of the problems of the longer lives we lead nowadays was interesting, though, and he did have some valid points upon our constant usage of screens nowadays in another essay.

However, we parted company strongly on his attitude towards animals – I am *never* going to see eye to eye with a man who says he loved his horse, which died under him while he was out hunting… And from what I know of his views on women, I know we would never see eye to eye.

Reading “Confessions…” was an interesting, if sometimes infuriating, experience. I’m happy to explore ideas opposite to my own, but I did find Scruton’s thought much too far from my own viewpoint. And I felt that a lot of his thinking came from a position of male, white, moneyed privilege which gave him an air of arrogance and lack of empathy with different kinds of people. However, I shall consider my mind suitable expanded by having explored the thinking of someone so diametrically opposed to my own, and at least I probably won’t need to read any more of his work….

Review copy kindly provided by the publisher, for which many thanks.