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Notes from Underground
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About the Author

Roger Scruton is a freelance writer and philosopher, who rescued himself from the academy twenty years ago. He currently lives in rural Wiltshire, England. He has held posts in the American Enterprise Institute, and in the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is married with two children. He is the author of 40 books, including five works of fiction, and composed two operas. He is widely known on both sides of the Atlantic as a public intellectual with a broadly conservative vision.

Reviews

A philosopher's exploration of communist Prague: Roger Scruton's novel conveys the tangled morality of this forgotten time and place with ease, elegance and deep conviction. -- Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag , and Iron Curtain Notes from Underground works superbly as a novel. From beginning to end I wanted to know what was happening and what would happen next. And it was wonderful being in your company - or Jan's company - looking at Prague (its history, its culture, its architecture, in Mala Strana, Strahov, Holisevice, Smichov) with more intelligent eyes than those I have cast on it in my many trips there. -- Raymond Tallis, poet, novelist, essayist and neuroscientist A wonderful book,,,the pages describing Prague in the seventies and eighties, the streets, the faces, the atmosphere, are so well done! I felt the paralysing chill go down my spine again when reading them. -- Professor Mikin Posp??il, Masaryk University Your novel is compelling: I couldn't put it down. I also found it moving in all sorts of ways, but especially for its evocation of the 1980s in Czechoslovakia, which is so accurate - I suppose only those who were there will know how accurate, but the others will discern it, I think. Betka is a wonderful invention and you feel almost as seduced by her as Jan is, and Pavel is a superbly imagined Dostoievskian figure. I didn't guess the ending, though it came as no surprise... -- David Matthews, composer A passionate novel about truth and the ways we manipulate it. About politics, yes, but about much much more - about the human condition, its hopes and fears, its ideals and illusions and its subtle, and tragic, betrayals. -- Salley Vickers Roger Scruton is one of the English-speaking world's most insightful philosophers, writing with perspicacity, and elegance, on an astonishing range of subjects, from sex and wine to politics and religion, and much else besides. In Notes from Underground, a moving, and fast-moving, book that draws on his own experiences in the dying days of communist Czechoslovakia, he proves himself a master of the novel as well. -- Brian C. Anderson, Editor of City Journal Roger Scruton is the most fearless and vivid writer. While a natural pessimist, he has unyielding determination for the causes he favours to succeed. Assisting the people of central Europe from breaking from the totalitarian shackles which had seemed so durable was the noblest example. As a man who seeks to live in truth, he has found that the most honest way of telling the story is through fiction. Scruton writes beautifully and he gives us a lucid sense of what life was like in Communist Prague for those furtively clinging to independent thought. There is the suspicion, the primitive samizdat printing methods, the experience of sex and romance amidst that strange metaphysical emptiness. Those of us for whom fear is a specialist product to be bought and sold in videos or downloaded on the internet find it hard to comprehend surviving in such a climate as a daily routine. This book brings disturbingly to life the way people lived. -- Harry Phibbs Roger Scruton knows many things, including communism, the human heart, and the English language. He was perfectly positioned to write this extraordinary, haunting novel. -- Jay Nordlinger, senior editor, National Review Notes from Underground isn't just a terrific novel about a love affair in communist Prague, it's a challenge to all of us in the West: can we recognise truth? As Scruton leads his hero out of the shadows, the reader also comes blinking into the light, newly, anxiously aware of how quickly any political ideology degenerates into deceit. -- Mary Wakefield, deputy editor of the Spectator Grippingly, movingly, and unforgettably, Roger Scruton's Notes from Underground transports the reader back to Cold War Prague in the bleak years after 1968, when the memory of freedom was kept alive by samizdat publishers, dissident intellectuals and subversive priests. Those who experienced Central Europe under the tyranny of Moscow's puppets will be startled by the clarity of Scruton's recollection. Those to whom Prague is now just another tourist destination should be required to read Notes from Underground before they go. -- Niall Ferguson, Historian and Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University I don't think anyone ever has so closely depicted the sheer variety of dissident or quasi-dissident reactions, each shading into the next (and often successively, within the same individual's consciousness), to the horrible situation they and their fellow-subjects found themselves in, from the saintly to the deeply compromised... All of which leads me to say that it is a brilliant and sensitive piece of fiction, graphically and stylishly written, though without the slightest affectation of stylishness... I would say, from my limited experience, that this is really the definitive account of what that world and those people were like, and why they were like that. In some ways it is superior even to Havel's, since although he knew better than anyone what life was like on the inside, he knew little of the outside, whereas you have the advantage of a double perspective. -- Professor Robert Grant, Department of English, Glasgow This novel is compelling: I couldn't put it down. I also found it moving in all sorts of ways, but especially for its evocation of the 1980s in Czechoslovakia, which is so accurate - I suppose only those who were there will know how accurate, but the others will discern it, I think. Betka is a wonderful invention and you feel almost as seduced by her as Jan is, and Pavel is a superbly imagined Dostoievskian figure. -- David Matthews, composer

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