Puritanism and the ethics of representation

A happy juxtaposition of two reviews in the same day. Roger Scruton reviews Martin Kemp’s From Christ to Coke in Prospect. Not available online is David Hawkes’ review article ‘Signs of Grace’, looking at four new books on the Puritans (TLS, Sept 2).
They are both interesting in different ways on the nature of the 20th century’s relationship with the visual image, and both engage with the idea of iconoclasm. For Hawkes, Puritanism is at base an ‘ethics of representation’, opposing an idolatrous fixation on appearances and a spiritually fatal neglect of underlying essences. The Puritans are worth studying for the critique they would likely have made of contemporary culture on these grounds; and there are overtones of such a critique in Scruton’s piece.


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