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Two Encounters of a Classic Kind

by Jay Nordlinger

Past and Present: The Challenges of Modernity, from the Pre-Victorians to the Postmodernists, by Gertrude Himmelfarb (Encounter, 256 pp., $23.99)

On Liberty and Its Enemies: Essays of Kenneth Minogue, edited by Timothy Fuller (Encounter, 352 pp., $27.99)

Encounter Books is a publisher in New York, founded in 1998 by Peter Collier. It is now run by Roger Kimball, who is also the editor and publisher of The New Criterion. Encounter has a new line: Encounter Classics. The first two volumes are collections of essays, each of those collections showcasing the work of one author. Our authors — the showcasees — are Gertrude Himmelfarb and Kenneth Minogue.

Himmelfarb is a historian, born in 1922. She is particularly known for her work on Victorian England, and she has a special interest in morality: the moral tempers of various places in various times. Our society has been “de-moralized,” she says. Morality has been erased from it, or shoved to the sidelines. Society needs to be “re-moralized.” I don’t like those terms, but I don’t know better ones. And I agree with Himmelfarb entirely.

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