Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Russell Kirk Remembered

...I do not know how many young conservatives in 2007 would say that their intellectual awakening began with the books and essays of Russell Kirk. But certainly many in this room can testify to his influence and especially to the impact of his masterful book, The Conservative Mind.

As most everyone in this audience knows, The Conservative Mind was Russell Kirk's magnum opus. More than 50 years after its publication, it remains in print in several languages. For most scholars, the publication of a book of this distinction would be the culmination of a career. For Kirk, who was only 34 at the time, it was just an opening salvo. In the years to come, he founded two influential journals (Modern Age and The University Bookman); published a regular column for more than two decades in National Review; wrote a major biography of T.S. Eliot and a classic history entitled The Roots
of American Order; did more than anyone living to revive Edmund Burke as a fountainhead of conservative thought; completed a superb memoir called The Sword of Imagination; and churned out a prodigious torrent of other writings.

How prodigious? According to Charles Brown, who has just completed a comprehensive bibliogra­phy of Kirk's works, Dr. Kirk wrote 26 nonfiction books, 9 volumes of novels and collected short stories, 255 book reviews, 68 introductions and forewords to other peoples' books, 814 essays and short pieces published in periodicals, and nearly 3,000 newspaper columns. Among all the founding fathers of modern American conservatism, only William F. Buckley Jr. rivaled him in productivity.

Surely, a man of such phenomenal intellectual output and versatility deserves to be honored, and so Kirk has been and continues to be...

Thus begins a lengthy but well worthwhile essay by George H. Nash at the Heritage Foundation web site. Nash, a Senior Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, President of the Philadelphia Society, and expert on the life and presidency of Herbert Hoover, is also the author of The Conserva­tive Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945.