“Dalrymple is the William Hogarth of our age”

Ed West of the Telegraph apparently attended last night’s interview of Dalrymple by British MEP Daniel Hannan (organized by Monday Books), and today he writes:

Theodore Dalrymple is the William Hogarth of our age, capturing, more than any other writer, this era of intellectual cowardice and state-created poverty.

West asks why “as an intellectual he is easily ignored by the intelligentsia” and “he’s never been asked by the BBC to talk about his experiences as a prison doctor”, and suggests: “probably because he would not recommend what they wanted to hear – ‘more resources’.”

He continues:

…just as the adjective “Hogarthian” conjures up images of gin-soaked hags and foundlings dying in the gutter, I’ve heard “Dalrymplean” used to describe both the squalor of the modern criminal classes, and the attitude – the endless excuses which criminals, having had any concept of responsibility taken away from them by the welfare system, give to excuse their wrongdoings.

…just as the Tate in 2007 held a Hogarth exhibition, which showed us the squalor of Georgian London, maybe art galleries in centuries to come will put on Dalrymple exhibitions, with examples of his work besides a realistic model of a 21st century council estate destroyed by the benefits system.

I encourage those of our readers who attended last night’s event to chime in with comments. We intend to post an audio recording of the interview soon.

Update: Also see Daniel Hannan’s comments here, where he says:

It’s striking that many of those who are the most relentlessly upbeat about the perfectibility of man – those who, in T S Eliot’s phrase, “dream of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good” – are in person sour and humourless. Theodore Dalrymple, by contrast, is gloomy in theory, but sunny in practice.

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