Category Archives: Discussions

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.

Is Dalrymple right about the EDL?

Dalrymple’s comments on David Cameron’s recent speech on multiculturalism included a characterization of the English Defence League as “thuggish and fascistic”. This sparked a discussion on the Gates of Vienna blog about whether Dalrymple’s view of the EDL is accurate and some speculation on why he holds that view.

Clint and I know very little about the EDL, so we can’t say whether Dalrymple is right or not. I did a little online research but not enough to form an opinion. No reasonable person could disagree with their Mission Statement, but I don’t know how well they live up to it.

So we wanted to get your opinion. What do you think? Is Dalrymple right or wrong about the EDL?

Second Opinion: The Blog

Monday Books has created a new blog for Second Opinion where they will, gradually over time, publish the entire contents of the book. Obviously, they hope readers will be enticed enough to buy it.

And why not? Dalrymple’s long-running column in Spectator magazine, which forms the basis of the book, featured what has to be some of the wittiest, most profound and most entertaining short pieces ever written. These are distilled versions of his provocative encounters with his patients and are equally enjoyable by the serious student of human nature or the mindless voyeur.

Appearance on BBC Radio 4

Dan Collins of Monday Books, publisher of Theodore Dalrymple’s most recent books Not With a Bang But a Whimper and Second Opinion, has a post on the Monday Books blog regarding Dalrymple’s appearance Tuesday on BBC Radio 4 to discuss British approaches to treating mentally ill criminals. He links to a podcast of the segment. Dalrymple is outspoken as always.

Read it here

Oh yes… Dan has also sent us a recording of Dalrymple’s recent interview at the Dorset Literary Festival, which we hope to have online at some point, i.e. as soon as I can edit it and put it on the Speeches & Interviews page.

Symposium: Remembering the Dissident

Theodore Dalrymple has participated in another of Jamie Glazov’s online symposiums at, this time regarding the legacy of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Glazov assembled an impressive lineup, with Dalrymple being joined by Natan Sharansky, Richard Pipes, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and others.

Read the symposium here

In August, Dalrymple wrote this in City Journal on the death of Solzhenitsyn.

Dalrymple as the modern Montaigne

Patrick Kurp, proprietor of the Anecdotal Evidence blog, has a very perceptive post today comparing Dalrymple to a description of Michel de Montaigne taken from Donald M. Frame’s Montaigne: A Biography. The similarities Mr. Kurp highlights in the work and character of the two men are striking, and his post is a must-read for any Dalrymple admirer.

Just for starters, Kurp quotes Frame on Montaigne:

“Montaigne’s central concern was always man and his life, why we behave as we do, how we should. Few men have been less metaphysical. His interest is in the here and now, not in the unknowable hereafter. A psychologist of curiosity and acumen, he is ultimately a moralist seeking to assess, as well as understand, his actions and those of others.” [page 148]

Read the full post here