On Hunting Hardcover – May 1 2002
Back to University 2016
Save on College Prep Essentials on Amazon.ca. Shop now
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"My life divides into three parts," philosopher-journalist Scruton says. "In the first I was wretched; in the second ill at ease; in the third hunting." He wasn't born to the hunt. His parents were industrial Midlanders, and his ardent Labourite father, despairing of his son's class loyalties when his scion was admitted to a grammar school with public school pretensions, was partly mollified only when Roger "skived off sports, . . . opt[ed] out of cadets, and was generally . . . unhappy and insolent." He discovered hunting accidentally, when out riding a generally docile horse owned by a colleague. A foxhunt passed by and, after standing a while mesmerized by it, the old steed took off to join it and proved to be "a 'front-runner,' a horse determined to be first in the herd." Scruton was hooked and has been hunting ever since for a complex of reasons he lays out, explains, and proselytizes in this thoroughly delightful essay that is not without its depths of patriotic feeling, interspecies fellowship, small-c conservative sentiment--and bone-wrenching unsaddlings. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Roger Scruton lives in Wiltshire where he hunts with the Beaufort and Vale of White Horse. He is the author of over twenty books and is a well-known media personality. A knight-errant on behalf of forgotten truth, he has espoused every cause deemed lost by mad modernity. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I both hunt and read philosophy, so I'm biased to like this book on two counts.
Nonetheless, I'd highly recommend this work to anyone with an interest in philosophy who is curious about hunting, or to a hunter who likes to think. I guess one third character need apply: the post-modern untermensch with an aching sense that something is wrong with his heart and his world, and a desire to learn what that might be. Some insightful hints are found between these covers.
Scruton tells of how he was given his first set of hunting gear by Enoch Powell: ‘you are about the same size as me, physically, if not intellectually’ – the seams ripped at the first jump, and embarked tentatively into his new life. Flying back every weekend from the United States where he was teaching to pursue his new passion, Scruton found the Wiltshire hunting set frightening and enchanting in equal measure. Terrifying ladies charging on horseback hurling barbed insults if you get too close to their horse (of course it’s ‘mind my heels’ if they get too close to yours). Then there are the subtle delights of country customs such the particularly English beauty of a rain sodden dog display and the formality and elegance of affixing your choking collar stud as you dress for hunting, knowing that soon your attire will be completely mud-spattered. Echoes of the British army at Waterloo or Passchendaele. Scruton describes the adrenaline rush as you approach a jump, the threat of being killed yourself always hanging tantalisingly in the air. Then there is the portrayal of hunting throughout English literature such as the novels of Sassoon and Surtees.
The appeal of hunting (to those who ‘get it’) is manifest in these pages. Of course those who are innately against the sport will be just as repelled as they always were, if not more so. I doubt this book will change many minds.
Scruton explains the understandable sentimental reasons why many people loathe the idea of hunting. The sight of a fox wearily escaping its covert, bowing its head and succumbing to its inevitable fate is indeed heart wrenching. But then Scruton explains that sentimentality is not the only criteria involved in this debate. The rational case for letting foxes run untrammelled around the countryside, or being shot by guns with the risk of maiming and long term disability, is not well founded either. Country life is based on a precarious balance between man and nature, and those who hunt often understand this the most.
Tony Blair admitted that the farcical hunting ban (the legislation resulted in more animal cruelty than before) was the worst thing he did in office, and he should feel shame for the rest of his days for succumbing to such poorly reasoned, class warfare populism. He won’t, of course.