Published Humanitas, Volume XIV, No. 1, 2001
Roger Kimball, managing editor of The New Criterion, has recently received extraordinary praise in America. He has been hailed by Irving Kristol as ‘among our most intelligent, thoughtful, and provocative cultural critics’, and by Frederick Morgan as ’one of the ablest and most philosophically skilled critics on the current scene’. According to John Simon, Kimball is ’uniquely qualified to deal with literary and philosophical matters alike’. William J. Bennett, William F. Buckley, Harvey Mansfield, John Ellis, and the late Allan Bloom are among the many who have lauded Kimball’s books.
In 1996 Claes G. Ryn questioned the quality and the philosophical depth of American conservatives’ concern for culture in his article ’How the Conservatives Failed ”The Culture”’. In his view, an unhistorical, abstract way of thinking, inspired mainly by Leo Strauss, had eclipsed the older ’cultural conservatism’ of writers like Russell Kirk and Peter Viereck, which in turn had deep affinities with the earlier tradition of cultural criticism represented by Irving Babbitt and the New Humanism. Ryn often has argued that the ahistorical rationalism of much American conservative thought should be corrected by the simultaneously Burkean and classicist humanism of Babbitt, supplemented by the historicist and epistemological insights of modern idealism…

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