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This interview is taken from PN Review 81, Volume 18 Number 1, September - October 1991.

Roger Scruton in Conversation Nicolas Tredell


Nicolas Tredell: Could you first of all tell us about your cultural and intellectual development through home and school and university?

Roger Scruton: I come from a poor lower middle-class background, my father being a primary school teacher. It was not a highly cultivated background; there were elements of musicality in the family, and a certain interest in ideas, but there were very few books in the house. I was, however, one of those lucky people who got to grammar school, before the grammar schools were destroyed, and this was the first major intellectual influence on me. My school was extremely energetic and intellectually active, so that although I did sciences at ' A' Level, I spent much time reading and talking with fellow pupils about music, art and literature. There was a Leavisite English master, whom I never met, but whose influence spread through the school. All pupils of any intellectual awareness came to believe the fundamental axiom of Leavisism, which is that literature is a moral force, and that it really matters what things you read and what things you like. I'm sure many people of my generation came under such an influence. The result was that by the time I left grammar school, I already saw literary criticism as a fundamental intellectual pursuit and one of immense importance to the nation. This perception was picked up by osmosis, and I couldn't have provided any theory to justify it. ...

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