for his research: “Pseudo-IntellectuaHsmrnas a Force in American History.”rnClyde Wilson is thought of in somernlimited circles as a real historian.rnThe Bishop’s Eggrnby Christie DaviesrnThe PoHtics of Sex andrnOther Essays on Conservatism,rnCulture, and Imaginationrnby Robert GrantrnNew York: St. Martin’s Press;rn248 pp., $55.00rnobert Grant’s essays range widelyrnacross political philosophy, literature,rnand aesthetics, from EdmundrnBurke to Vaclav Havel, from Jane Austenrnto the fiction of the 1930’s, from Shakespearernto Tolstoy, from Mozart to RenniernMackintosh. Yet Grant is always knowledgeable,rnalways clear and readable, alwaysrninteresting. He is able to cover hisrnrange of subjects adequately, withoutrnever lapsing into the obscurity of a polymathrnor the superficial dazzle of a newrnRenaissance man.rnHis most interesting essays concernrnthe nature of conservatism. In the forewordrnto the book, Raymond Tallis writes:rnIn Grant’s understanding of it.. .rnhue conservatism is no more hostilernto change than to ideas. Somernchange is inevitable, some positivelyrnnecessary; but it must be properlyrninformed, preserve continuityrnand respect tradition (“embodiedrnpractical knowledge”). Grant’srnconservatism is not a matter of party,rnnor confined to politics. Itrngrows out of his perception of therninterconnectedness of human concerns,rnand his respect for whateverrnhas evolved peaceably and naturallyrnout of our long-term dealingsrnwith each other. Such things,rnamong them culture, elude a narrowlyrntechnological, rationalistrnprospective.rnThis is an excellent statement of whatrnGrant stands for and why his essays willrnbe a welcome addition to the libraries ofrnconservative individuals and institutionsrnin the English-speaking countries. Grantrnwrites well about Burke, but it is his twornessays on 20th-century conservative philosopherrnMichael Oakeshott that are ofrnmost interest. Oakeshott was a respectedrnthinker, yet—as Grant points out—hernwas never a global guru (unlike, say, thernvacuous John Kenneth Galbraith, therndeeply flawed and ideological GunnarrnMyrdal, or the fellow-travelling HaroldrnLaski), and he deserves to be more widelyrnknown. Grant’s essays will help tornachieve this. Oakeshott’s great contributionrnwas to expose the irrationalism ofrn”Rationalism,” by which he meant thernidea that politics and government can bernplanned by reference to “abstract intelligencern. . . suitably backed by the necessaryrntechnical or fachial knowledge.” It isrna “category mistake” whose proponentsrnfail to see that “every activity generates itsrnown kind of rationality (that is the principlesrnarticulate or otherwise, appropriaternto its successful pursuit) and that it is foolishrnand futile to apply the techniques andrnassumptions appropriate to one kind ofrnactivity to others for which they were neverrndesigned and from which they neverrnemerged.”rnIt is not just socialism that Oakeshott isrnattacking but any kind of ])olitics or politicalrnthought involving this fallacy. (AsrnGrant points out, he was critical of Hayekrnas a crypto-rationalist and has nothing inrncommon with the Archimedean rationalismrnof later liberal thinkers such as Rawlsrnand Nozick.) On the latter thinkers.rnGrant comments shrewdly that “it wouldrnnot be altogether unjust t(3 describe theirrnefforts as exactly the sort of ‘crib’ tornpolitics that Oakeshott once accusedrnMarxism of being.” Oakeshott was not arncommunitarian but an individualist, understoodrnas “a virtuous explorer of hisrnmoral, cultural and intellectual inheritance.”rnThere is an interesting continuity betweenrnthe Oakeshott essays and Grant’srnown treatment of Charles Rennie Mackintoshrnand the House Beautiful. Mackintosh,rna Scottish architect and furniturerndesigner, was modern and imperious andrnstill has fanatical admirers in coimtries asrndistant from Scotland as Japan. An “aestheticrnplanner,” as Grant calls him, herndeliberately designed chairs with backsrntwice as high as a seated man so that theyrnwould be uncomfortable, incompatiblernwith the presence of children, and easilyrnbreakable, particularly in the Scottish tearnshops that bought them. The fragility ofrnthe furniture emphasized the decorum ofrnthe tea rooms, in contiast to the raucousrnand sometimes violent inebriation of thernlower-class Glaswegian bar, where evenrnthe most robust of fiirnishings might regularlyrnbe smashed to fragments. Butrnthen, speculation about aesthetic fashionrnis vain. It is difficult, for example, to seernwhy we should accept Grant’s thesis thatrnthe preceding high-Victorian interiors,rnwhether in Scotland or America, rigorouslyrnexcluded anything remotely suggestivernof death from open display. Surelyrnhe is wrong; in an age of early death,rnthe clutter of knickknacks was also arnparade of relics of those who had died—rnthe carved walrus tooth brought backrnby Captain Uncle Harold, long sincerndrowned in the wintry North Atlantic;rnthe vases left to the householder in poorrnconsumptive cousin Mildred’s will.rnRobert Grant’s book is a bishop’s egg:rnNearly all of it is good, my lord. ThernOakeshott and Burke yolk will nourishrnthe mind of the reader, and the aestheticrnalbumen is bound to please; only thernshell is doubtful—the cover has the feelrnof a Carrington executed by Lytton Strachey’srndevotee of that name.rnChristie Davies is a professor in thernfaculty of letters at the University ofrnReading in England.rnHugging Himselfrnby Jeffrey MeyersrnA Life of James Boswellrnby Peter MartinrnNew Haven: Yale University Press;rn613 pp., $35.00rnIames Boswell (1740-95), whose frankrnand revealing London Journal soldrnare than a million copies, is the mostrn”modern” and widely read 18th-centuryrnauthor. His circle of friends—Johnson,rnBurke, Gibbon, Reynolds, Hume, Goldsmith,rnGarrick, and Fanny Burney—wasrnthe most brilliant in the history of Englishrnliterature. Cursed with a morbidrnCalvinistic stieak, Boswell had uneasy relationsrnwith his austere disapproving father,rna high-court judge in Scotland,rnwhom he compared to a cold surgical instrimient.rnA pushy and self-promoting,rnMARCH 2001/33rnrnrn