The world of literature has always been a space where philosophical ideas are explored and showcased in a manner that transcends time and cultural boundaries. One such literary work is "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles, an exquisite novel that tells the story of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, a former Russian aristocrat sentenced to house arrest in the luxurious Metropol Hotel in Moscow. While seemingly unrelated at first glance, the novel contains many elements that can be compared to the ideas of conservatism as presented by the late British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton in his writings. This essay aims to examine the themes of tradition, loyalty, and the notion of home in both "A Gentleman in Moscow" and Scruton's conservatism, thereby exploring the significance of these themes in the contemporary world.
In "A Gentleman in Moscow," Count Rostov is a man deeply rooted in the traditions and values of pre-revolutionary Russia. Despite being confined to a small room in the Metropol Hotel, he maintains his dignity and cultural heritage by adhering to these traditions. This strong sense of tradition is echoed in Scruton's conservatism, where he argues that the preservation of cultural and historical traditions is essential for the stability and continuity of society.
Scruton believes that tradition provides us with a sense of belonging and a connection to our ancestors, creating a vital link between the past, present, and future. Similarly, Count Rostov's adherence to tradition enables him to maintain his identity in a world that has dramatically changed since the Russian Revolution. The novel thus serves as a testament to the importance of tradition in preserving one's identity in times of tumultuous change.
Loyalty is another theme that is central to both "A Gentleman in Moscow" and Scruton's conservatism. In the novel, Count Rostov displays unwavering loyalty to his friends and loved ones, even when it puts him at great personal risk. This loyalty extends beyond his immediate circle to encompass a broader sense of loyalty to the Russian people and the nation's cultural heritage.
Scruton's conservatism emphasizes the importance of loyalty to one's nation, community, and the values that define them. This loyalty fosters a sense of unity and social cohesion, which are crucial for the stability and well-being of society. The novel's portrayal of Count Rostov's loyalty to his friends and country demonstrates the significance of this virtue in maintaining social bonds and ensuring the survival of cultural values.
The Notion of Home
The concept of home is a central element in both "A Gentleman in Moscow" and Scruton's conservatism. In the novel, Count Rostov's confinement to the Metropol Hotel forces him to redefine his idea of home, ultimately finding it within the hotel's walls. This transformation reflects the notion that home is not merely a physical space, but also an emotional and psychological refuge that provides solace, comfort, and a sense of belonging.
Scruton's conservatism also emphasizes the importance of home, particularly in the context of national identity. He posits that a shared sense of home is crucial for fostering social cohesion and unity, as it provides a common ground for individuals with diverse backgrounds and beliefs. The novel's exploration of the notion of home, both in the personal and collective sense, highlights its significance in fostering a sense of belonging and social harmony.
Through the themes of tradition, loyalty, and the notion of home, "A Gentleman in Moscow" and Sir Roger Scruton's conservatism share common ground in their examination of the human experience. Both works highlight the importance of preserving cultural heritage, maintaining social bonds, and fostering a sense of belonging in order to ensure stability and continuity in society. By exploring these themes, Towles and Scruton remind us of the enduring relevance of these values in the face of rapid social and political change. Ultimately, both the novel and Scruton's philosophical ideas serve as powerful reminders of the significance of tradition, loyalty, and home in nurturing our individual and collective identities, thus contributing to the creation of a more cohesive, resilient, and harmonious world.
Towles, A. (2016). A Gentleman in Moscow. New York, NY: Viking.
This source is the primary text for the analysis, providing the narrative and themes that are compared to Scruton's conservatism.
Scruton, R. (2014). How to be a Conservative. London, UK: Bloomsbury Continuum.
This source offers an overview of Scruton's conservative philosophy, with a focus on the themes of tradition, loyalty, and the notion of home.
Scruton, R. (2008). The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
This source explores the conservative worldview and provides context for understanding the core values presented in Scruton's work.
O'Hear, A. (2009). Roger Scruton: Philosopher on Dover Beach. London, UK: Continuum.
This source is a comprehensive examination of Scruton's life and philosophy, offering insights into his views on conservatism and the themes discussed in the essay.
Dooley, M. (Ed.). (2009). Roger Scruton: The Philosopher on Dover Beach. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.
This edited volume contains essays that discuss various aspects of Scruton's philosophy, providing additional perspectives on the themes of tradition, loyalty, and home.
Kirk, R. (1953). The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot. Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Company.
This source offers an overview of conservative thought and its development over time, providing context for understanding Scruton's views within the broader tradition of conservatism.