At a certain age on the path to adulthood, we begin to realize not just that our heroes are human, but that they are mortal. In the last five years, we have said goodbye to Harry Jaffa, Kenneth Minogue, Rene Girard, Bernard Lewis, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and Forrest McDonald, among brilliant others, and I have watched each go with an increasing sense that I was seeing my pantheon of intellectual greats fade rapidly.
Roger Scruton always held a special place in my heart, much as he might despise the trite cliche, because he was with me almost from the very beginning (I first read one of his books when I was 14) and because he spanned such a wide variety of mediums and topics with stunning skill. He showed me that a conservative could claim a place in academia, could show true genius and originality of expression in their field, and also claim a place outside of it, in the culture. On an even more personal level, his love of Britain, so beautifully expressed in much of his work, and the way that he had simply represented British academia for me was one of the things that inspired me to push aside myriad fears and take up a place at a British university.More