and working classes and bankrolls ourrncandidates for high office.rnMichael Washburn is the assistant editorrno/” Chronicles.rnThe StraussianrnSidesteprnby Marco RespintirnLeo Strauss e la destra americanarnby Germana ParaboschirnRome: Editori Riuniti;rn162 pp.rnDr. Germana Paraboschi’s LeornStrauss e la destra americana {LeornStrauss and the American Right) is one ofrnthe few serious studies of the Americanrnright to come out of Italy. Dr. Paraboschirnis a young scholar, born in Milanrnin 1961 and now living just outside Pavia.rnShe spent several years in the UnitedrnStates, studying American conservatism.rnBut curiously enough, her book was publishedrnby Roman Editori Riuniti, thernpublishing house of the Democratic Partyrnof the Left, born from the ashes of thernItalian Communist Party (an example ofrnhow leftists are light-years ahead in therncultural war, and in studying the enemy).rnAfter surveying the movements thatrnmade up the postwar American right,rnParaboschi ponders the work of LeornStrauss and the debate between the differentrnStraussian schools. She reconsidersrnthe Burkean school within the OldrnRight and sets the thought of Paul Gottfriedrnand Claes Ryn—two scholars whorndecisively support transcendent valuesrnand thus escape the relativism popularrnin European historiography—as thernmain alternative to Strauss and thernStraussians. To her, Gottfried and Rynrnare correct in stressing the importance ofrnprinciples to a sound and self-consciousrnphilosophy of conservative thought.rnThey realize that historical consciousnessrnmust be grounded on values, ofrnwhich history itself is the vassal.rnParaboschi also analyzes Strauss’s defensernof objective values and NaturalrnLaw. As she explains it, the Straussiansrnabstractly approach Natural Law as if itrnwere a Shakespearean persona to advancernone’s own agenda; they try to lend legitimacyrnto their arguments before traditionalrnand conservative audiences withrnfrequent references to antiquity. But actually,rnthere is nothing ancient or traditionalrn(in the Latin sense of tradere, tornhand something down) in their arguments,rnwhich defend objective valuesrnout of their context and historical dimension.rnThe Enlightenment and thernFrench Revolution did the same thing,rnconsidering values and virtue (publicrnvirtue to be advanced forcibly by thernLeviathan state, the only source of rightrnand wrong) in an abstract way.rnGuido Alpa, in the introduction to thernnew Italian edition of Strauss’s NaturalrnRight and History, states that when thernfirst Italian version of this book wasrnpublished in 1957, liberals and secularizedrnItalians rose up against it, since NaturalrnLaw was considered a heritage ofrnclassical thought, commonly judged “reactionary”rnand defended only by RomanrnCatholics. Alpa gives this as the reasonrnwhy Strauss is not appreciated in Italy, arncountry surrounded and polluted with arnprogressive, liberal, and radical culture.rnOn balance, I consider it absurd tornattack and undermine Natural Law theoryrnby using history in this abstract way.rnThe founding of America, for example,rnshowed first principles embodied in arnparticular time and place. But if we considerrnthe self-evident truths and the languagernof the Declaration of Independencernboth as a supreme revelation of arnhistorical reality, and as the sole light byrnwhich to view the whole American experience,rnwe fall into the mistake of notrnconsidering what actually happened (thernconcrete reality of history), and to give tornwords and facts a presumptive meaningrnout of context. This is the way liberalrnEuropean scholars normally interpretrnthe American Revolution—i.e., as a subversive,rnprogressive, even radical inventionrnannouncing the new age of ideologyrnand the arrival of the Leviathan state.rnThe French Revolution was such an invention,rnbut not the American one; norrnwas the American Revolution the willingrnparent to the French Revolution.rnSeparating itself from abstract NaturalrnLaw theory, from idealism, and from relativisticrnhistoricism, true conservativernthought has to defend the alliance of historicalrnconsciousness with supreme objectivernvalues. As Russell Kirk said, “Historyrn. . . is the gradual revelation of arnsupreme design—often shadowy to ourrnblinking eyes, but subtle, resistless, andrnbeneficent. God makes history throughrnthe agency of man.”rnThe work of Paul Gottfried and ClaesrnRyn’s National Humanities Institute—rnaimed at defining and defending “valuecenteredrnhistoricism”—is the philosophicalrngood battle being fought today. It isrnalso the important premise for establishingrna sound philosophy of history connectedrnto what medieval scholasticismrncalled quaestio de veritate (the questionrnof Truth). Here is a true counterrevolutionaryrnand conservative philosophy.rnMarco Respinti is the editor of arnforthcoming series of books in Italy onrnAnglo-American conservative thought.rnBookman’srnHolidayrnby Gregory McNameernA History of Readingrnby Alberto ManguelrnNew York: Viking;rn372 pp., $26.95rnSaint Ambrose, the reputed author ofrnthe Athanasian Creed, did not movernhis lips when he read. Neither did Ambrose’srnpupil and colleague Saint Augustine.rnThe Roman chroniclers who witnessedrnthis feat thought it only arncuriosity, and the provincial missionaries’rnexample took generations to becomernthe ruling style of reading in the West.rnRegardless of how it is done, reading isrna social act, involving a history of formalrnand informal accords establishing thatrnwritten words have certain meanings andrnshapes, that they are to be used in certainrnways. Reading is also, of course, an intenselyrnindividual act: each reader approachesrna text differently, bringing tornbear experience and personality on another’srnwords. It is a complex mental activity,rninvolving several areas of the brainrnat once. Reading is physiologically complexrnas well, demanding that the eyesrndart around the page hundreds of timesrneach second to take in bits and pieces ofrnvisual information.rnAll of these matters are of profoundrninterest to Alberto Manguel, a multilingualrnArgentine now living in Canada,rnMAY 1997/31rnrnrn