The meaning of things

The new installment of Dalrymple’s BMJ column is perhaps the most personal and powerful one I’ve read. Much of his recent work has focused on gratitude, and this short piece illustrates how an appreciation for life may flow naturally out of the experience of trauma.

($4 purchase required or $82 for one-year unlimited access to the entire website. His essays older than one year are free. See his BMJ links on the left of this page.)

9 thoughts on “The meaning of things

  1. Christine

    Yikes! Maybe it’s because the BMJ saw me coming, but it looks like they’ve raised their fee for online access to TD’s articles to $20. I read the excerpt and it sounds like the piece is a knock-out, up there with his take-down of Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas.

  2. Steve

    Ouch, I just confirmed that you are right. That fee is quite steep, and these pieces are very short, too. They must have increased the fees very recently. I can only hope that Dalrymple is getting a cut.

  3. Jonathan Levy

    I have registered with (but not subscribed to) the BMJ, but was not able to access the old Theodore Dalrymple articles (including those from 2007). When I try, I am told that I must subscribe.

    However, I am able to access the Anthony Daniels articles.

    Any suggestions? Having exhausted the City Journal and The Spectator archives, I would very much enjoy browsing the BMJ’s…


  4. Steve

    Jonathan, I confirmed what you said: all of the Theodore Dalrymple articles now require payment, and all of the Anthony Daniels articles are still free. I tried Googling some of the old TD articles but couldn’t find any place online that has them for free. Other than buying a one-year $99 membership, all I could suggest is going to a local library and photocopying them. The BMJ is such an important journal, I’m sure you could find a local library that archives them.

  5. Jonathan Levy

    Thanks for your suggestion Steve, the library is a good idea – I will keep my eyes open next time I’m there. I should also thank you for creating such a valuable website – I was not aware of much of Dalrymple’s earlier writings, and I’ve already ordered from a few of the books I’ve been missing.

    Perhaps you could advise me on this matter – do all of the books contain original material, or is there some repetition? I’ve already got “Mass Listeria”, and I’m wondering whether “An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Medicine” is not just an older version. Similarly, I am concerned that “Fool or Physician” may consist mainly of material from the other travel books. Since these seem to cost between $40 and $60 second-hand, I would greatly appreciate the advice of someone who has read them.


  6. Steve

    Thanks for the kind comments, Jonathan.

    There is no real repetition between the books. A couple of them have different titles in the US than in the UK: The Wilder Shores of Marx is the same book as Utopias Elsewhere, and likewise for Romancing Opiates and Junk Medicine. Mass Listeria and An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Medicine are two different books. The arguments he makes in them are related but different, and I would definitely recommend reading them both.

    There is some repetition of anecdotes between his books and essays but not very much. Given his prolificness, he seems to go out of his way to avoid repeating himself.

    Fool or Physician will be almost entirely new to you, and since it is (in my opinion) one of his greatest but most unknown books, if I could recommend buying only one of them second-hand, that would be the one. His prose in that book is so beautiful, it practically reads itself.

    Let us know what you end up reading and how you like it!


  7. Jonathan Levy

    Thank you very much for your advice, Steve. I will bump “Fool or Physician” to the top of my list. But I think I can safely predict that I will wind up getting all his books, and I will enjoy them all.

    What a pleasure it was to learn that there was more of his work to read! For that, I am ever grateful to you.

    May I ask how you came to discover his writing? I happened to stumble on his article “Barbarians at the Gates of Paris” by chance. After reading a few more articles on the internet, I went to amazon and got “Life at the Bottom”. The rest, as they say, is history.


  8. Steve

    My pleasure, Jonathan. I discovered TD through his occasional articles in National Review and a few references to him on The Corner. After reading Life at the Bottom, I was hooked. That book seems to have roped in a lot of people.


    Interesting to hear how others discovered TD.
    I bought 2 (left wing) books called “The School Report” and Dark Hear” about the mess in state schools and the social system today. I’m intersted in the subject b/c I went to a sink state school. In Amazon had “those who bought this title also bought this…” with a recommendation for Life at the Bottom. The photo and the blurb sounded good and I bought it and was hooked.


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