Underrated: Theodore Dalrymple

Britain’s Standpoint Magazine has a regular feature wherein they declare well-known intellectuals to be either overrated or underrated, and they have just turned their attentions to Dalrymple.

Jonathan Foreman is effusive in his praise, calling TD “one of Britain’s most incisive, courageous, knowledgeable and clear-eyed public intellectuals” and “arguably, our greatest living essayist”. His comments often echo those in 
our essay on Dalrymple’s importance: “He brings to his observations a wisdom gained from extensive travel, wide and deep reading, and having worked for long periods in places that most middle-class readers and commentators know only at second-hand.”

One of the aspects of Dalrymple’s life and work that we have tried to emphasize here, and that we thought was perhaps underappreciated by even his strongest admirers, was the almost absurd breadth of his experience — and indeed, the singular personality that lead him to seek out that experience. It is good to see others making the same discovery.

Since the riots, we have noticed that Dalrymple’s public profile has grown as commentators increasingly reference his work. Hopefully, he won’t be underrated much longer.

3 thoughts on “Underrated: Theodore Dalrymple

  1. B Kay

    Funnily enough I’ve recently lent ‘Our Culture’ to a lady whose daughter is doing political history at university. She (mother) told me today that her daughter, on receiving it, was enthusiastic.
    I pointed out that more often than not, at least initially, Dalrymple doesn’t go down well with people but that I consider him to be Britain’s most important intellectual; for want of better word really, social critic seemed too narrow, indeed Britain seems too narrow also, but then, my reading is necessarily very limited. So we shall see how that goes.

    I lent a copy of the same book to a young woman, Uni student, (who I’d say had a distinctly ‘Bloomsbury’ / bohemian persona) a couple of years back. She was quite heavily involved with a debating/discussion group. A week or two later she made a point of seeking me out and inviting me to dinner at her flat, with housemates who like to discuss things… I can’t remember exactly; her intentions may have had no untoward motive whatsoever. I was genuinely flattered and expressed gratitude, she barely knew me, but experience has given me a default suspicion I guess and in a friendly manner I quite spontaneously said “so you can all gang up on me”.
    Maybe I’m imagining things but she seemed a little taken aback… that was the last I heard from her, and she’s still got the book, unless she’s burnt it or something; I suspect Rage Of Virginia Woolf, will have enraged her.


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