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Imagining the Permanent Things

“I see the imminent death of 20,000 men, / That, for a fantasy and trick of fame, / Go to their graves like beds . . . ”

—Shakespeare, Hamlet

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of Modern Age, the flagship journal of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, edited now for almost half of that time by George A. Panichas.  Russell Kirk (1918-1994), the founder and first editor of Modern Age, always took great delight in even the smallest coincidences in life, and so he is no doubt pleased to see The Essential Russell Kirk, edited by Panichas, appear in 2007.

Kirk should be pleased, too, with the result of his editor’s efforts.  Panichas has made a near-perfect selection of 42 essays, arranging them in nine sections that touch on every major theme of Kirk’s more than 40 years of intellectual endeavor.  Moreover, he has gone beyond the call of duty as editor, carefully trimming sentences and passages for the sake of concision while leaving Kirk’s arguments unaltered.  He introduces each essay with a short paragraph or two placing it in historical context and tying its theme to the overarching subject of the section in which it appears.  Each of those sections receives a slightly longer introduction, and Panichas has written a Preface to the entire...

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