Mr. Kirk, please meet Mr. Burke: 1950

In the fall of 1950, Russell Kirk turned the ripe old age of 32. He had been publishing articles and reviews (and soon his M.A. thesis on John Randolph of Roanoke through the University of Chicago) since 1936. Even during college, academic journals had accepted his undergraduate work, assuming him to be a tenure-track professor.

Throughout his earliest publications, Kirk full explored the ideas of tradition and liberty, attempting to balance the sometimes tension-filled influences of Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More, Albert Jay Nock, and Isabel Patterson. Indeed, he immersed himself in any and every work imaginable, but he kept returning to these four.

When Kirk had written his M.A. thesis on John Randolph a decade earlier at Duke, he had encountered Burke as an intellectual inspiration. Almost certainly, Kirk had encountered Burke even earlier through his beloved New Humanist undergraduate literature professor, John Abbott Clark. From his first encounter with the Anglo-Irish statesman, Kirk probably had liked Burke. Certainly, there’s no evidence to indicate the opposite. While an undergraduate at Michigan State, he also encountered the works of T.S. Eliot, but he’d dismissed his Anglo-American contemporary as a “fraud.”

Read the complete article in The Imaginative Conservative

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