Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book for Mirabeau Press is his first book of maxims. Midnight Maxims is the result of Dalrymple’s recent sleepless nights in which he used those wee hours to write short statements of universal truths. Great writers throughout history, such as Francois de La Rochefoucauld, have used this form of writing, and Dalrymple has said in the past that he encourages young writers to focus on writing maxims because they clarify one’s thoughts. Many of Dalrymple’s essays already include these short and quotable lines (the ones here are all original).
There are 365 maxims here, one for each day of the year, but Dalrymple says these are not maxims of the daily inspirational type; rather, they focus on universal truths of human nature and, to some extent, contemporary society. I can imagine each one of these provoking a discussion.
Speaking for myself, this is already one of my favorite Dalrymple books. Although not intended as such, I think this book is a distillation of much (though certainly not all) of his thought and writing.
Midnight Maxims is available on various Amazon sites all around the world. US readers can go here and British readers here.
Dalrymple has written a new set of short stories called Saving the Planet and Other Stories, and it is available at all Amazon sites. The book includes eight stories that reflect various aspects of contemporary society and culture, including frustration with modern officialdom but also both the tragedy and delight of everyday interpersonal conflict — all in quintessential Dalrymple style. It is his fourth collection of short stories.
You can buy it here in the US or here in the UK, or from whatever Amazon site you use.
Dalrymple’s book The Examined Life, first published in 2011, was a fictional satire that made fun of the modern focus on health and safety, a focus that often seems to place health above all other considerations. With the spread of COVID-19, the book now seems more relevant than ever, and as a result, it has been republished in a new edition. It is available globally on all Amazon sites, e.g. here in the UK and here in the US.
Dalrymple has said that satire is nowadays prophecy, and although he did not predict a global pandemic, it does seem that the outlook satirized in The Examined Life has spread along with the virus.
‘Why are you wearing that mask?’ asked one of the security guards.
‘Germs, of course,’ I said. ‘They’re ubiquitous.’
‘You what?’ he said.
‘Ubiquitous – they’re everywhere.’
‘They are for us, too,’ he said, ‘and we’re not wearing masks.’
Exactly the same argument as the doctor uses when I raise the subject with him.
‘It was of no consolation to the victims of pneumonic plague during the Black Death that there were millions of other victims, was it?’ I said.
‘The Black Death?’ said one of the security guards to the other. ‘What’s he going on about?’
Dalrymple has just completed his 44th book (if my count is accurate), and it is now available globally on all Amazon sites (e.g. here in the UK and here in the US). Around the World in the Cinemas of Paris contains his reflections — critical, historical, cultural and philosophical — on 33 international films that he saw when he had some free time in Paris, the greatest city in the world for such films. Many of these films are set in countries that Dalrymple visited personally and therefore triggered his memories of his experiences there. Particularly in this era of COVID-19, the book may remind readers of a simpler time, when we could happily visit a cinema without wearing a mask or worrying about contracting the virus. Hopefully, that time will return soon.
Theodore Dalrymple has just written a new book of short stories, and it is now available on Amazon. Embargo and Other Stories is Dalrymple’s third collection of short stories, following The Proper Procedure and Grief. The stories in Embargo are based on Dalrymple’s real world travels to the remote corners of the world and illuminate the eternal human condition across the extremes of experience.
While newer readers might marvel at the writer’s vivid imagination, his longtime readers will recognize some of these travels from books like Coups and Cocaine and Fool or Physician, and it’s fascinating to see Dalrymple rework his travel experiences into fictional stories. Few writers have such sources of inspiration.
Dalrymple graciously dedicated the book to the memory of my brother, Clint Conatser, who created this website with me in 2008.
Readers can expect no shortage of future Dalrymple material, as he has several other books in progress.
Peter Bolton from The Canary wrote to us to let us know about his new piece that criticizes right-wing commentators for hypocrisy on the subject of civil discourse. He says Theodore Dalrymple is the most notable culprit:
In a highly competitive field, the prize for the most glaring peddler of wilful bias may go to the conservative essayist Anthony Daniels, better known by his pen name Theodore Dalrymple…
Daniels’ writing often focuses on what he sees as the decline in manners, self-respect, decency, and personal responsibility in both public and private life in the UK. And for Daniels, the blame for this decline lies squarely with Britain’s political and intellectual class, along with their purported embrace of popular culture at the expense of high culture. This criticism, however, is seemingly reserved almost exclusively for those who he considers left of center.
It’s a fairly long piece with many examples, as Bolton sees it, of Dalrymple’s hypocrisy. Read it here.
Bolton asked if Dalrymple would like to reply, and I expect him to reply here shortly.
I am sorry that I haven’t posted any new Dalrymple pieces in the last couple of months. I have received several emails questioning whether Dalrymple is even writing any more, and I can assure you that he is writing as much as ever. I have had some challenges in my personal life that have made maintaining the blog difficult, and I feel the need to explain. In late January, my identical twin brother Clint, with whom I built and maintained this blog, passed away suddenly from a seizure disorder that began three years ago. His death has made life difficult for me, and I have not had the heart to continue posting. I plan to start up again soon, perhaps with one “catch up” entry that lists all of the pieces I’ve missed. We were lax enough in keeping up with Dalrymple and posting all of his pieces when it was the two of us, and I’m not sure I can do it alone. Therefore, if anyone would like to assist me in maintaining the blog, I would welcome the help. You can contact me by commenting on this post or by emailing me at email@example.com.
Clint took great meaning and enjoyment from Dalrymple’s work and worldview, and in helping to promote them. The opportunities we have had to get to know Dalrymple personally have been a real thrill, as have the opportunities to meet and communicate with so many of his readers. I want to thank you all for having helped to make my brother’s life a better one.
Here is a piece in which Dalrymple pokes fun at not one but two articles, this one a job advertisement in the Guardian for a school seeking a Director of Social Pedagogy:
What person but a monster could possibly be against the practice of a holistic nurturing of relationship-centred well-being across the lifecourse, or is it the lifecourse practice of relationship-centred nurturing of holistic well-being? Of course, it comes with a salary and a pension, probably much larger than those of the poor teacher who teaches the little dears how to read and write and sit down when they’re told.
The editor of the Lancet has written a remarkable editorial which praises a Marxist view of medicine, and Dalrymple gladly takes him to task at the Library of Law and Liberty. For one thing, Dalrymple notes that Marxism fueled the murder of scores of millions of people around the world. Is this not “somewhat contrary to the public health that, according to the editor of the Lancet, ‘was the midwife of Marxism’”?
In practice, the system of parole is a sham, little more than a demand that offenders lie by expressing remorse. Programs to encourage criminals to change their ways have been proven repeatedly not to work. But even in theory, the idea of parole is a disgrace, says Dalrymple at the Spectator:
…the parole system is completely inimical to the rule of law. To grant or withhold liberty on the basis of speculations, inevitably inaccurate, about what people might or might not do in the future is to reinstitute what amounts to a star chamber.
A man is to be punished for what he has done beyond reasonable doubt, not for what some questionnaire or bogus calculation says he has a 70 per cent chance of doing at some time in the future.