Joanna Dennehy: The call of the underworld

Dalrymple writes in the Telegraph of Joanna Dennehy, the young British woman who was recently found to have stabbed to death three men in separate incidents. Dalrymple says she represents an extreme version of an increasingly common phenomenon, that of people from comfortable and respectable homes who choose lives of physical and/or moral squalor as a way to satisfy their selfish desires and stave off ennui:

For at least a century and a half there has been a concerted and rarely contradicted literary and intellectual attack on bourgeois respectability, not merely as dull, but also as hypocritical and immoral – indeed, as almost the worst immorality imaginable. Better outright egotism than such hypocrisy, for at least egotism is sincere! Do what you like because, underneath a veneer of righteousness, that is only what everyone does anyway! Riches being extracted solely by exploitation of the poor, the morality of the rich is only a smokescreen for their economic interests and depredations. All moralists have feet of clay, so the only way to avoid feet of clay is to live exactly as one chooses. Besides which, morality is a bore: it cramps one’s style so.

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