Poison Pen

In this week’s Takimag column, Dr. Dalrymple takes up the topic of the use and abuse of arsenic in real life and in literature since the 19th-century.

I suspect that nowadays people might be shocked by this irony and believe that it indicated a callousness on the part of the author, as if he really thought that poisoning was fun or funny. We are now terribly literal-minded, too much so for irony. If we are infinitely more technically sophisticated than our near ancestors, mentally we are much less so.

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