On subjects ranging from philosophy to circus freaks, Robert Grant's articles are renowned for their wit, elegance and willingness to risk 'political incorrectness', by tackling difficult questions head on. Aimed at the regular, enquiring reader rather than the academic specialist, Grant's volume brings together some of the most memorable pieces from his prolific output published since 1982. Conservative, but sceptical and non-partisan, these essays concern the inability of abstract theories to comprehend, let alone prescribe for, the things which most matter to us, namely morals, politics, art, and culture at all levels from the high to the popular. They deal with the threat to our cultural traditions offered by socialist hubris and liberal indifference, and (more optimistically) with culture's own spontaneous power of resistance, renewal and self-repair. Among the topics covered are 'concept production' in opera; Charles Rennie Mackintosh and interior design; sex, death and pornography; Burke, Arnold, Oakeshott, Havel, Shakespeare and Jane Austen as political thinkers; soap opera, Viz magazine and the idea of the 'normal'; terrorism and the Holocaust.
The collection is introduced by the polymath Raymond Tallis, and includes an otherwise unobtainable correspondence, on Tolstoy, between the author and the late Sir Isaiah Berlin.