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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Dalrymple takes issue with the product instructions at the front of a notebook:
Well, how can journaling help you? It “is a great way to organise your thoughts, reduce mental clutter, and gain insight into who you are.” And when you find who you are—that is to say who you really are—it is bound to be someone rather splendid, not this imperfect specimen who sometimes does not tell the truth, grows irritable when things do not go his or her way, is impatient, loses his or her temper, can’t resist eating too many chocolates if they are there, eats too quickly, talks too much or too little, is spendthrift and ungenerous, is sometimes lazy, enjoys other people’s misfortunes, gossips maliciously, forgets to return telephone calls, and so forth. Journaling can help you to discover your inner perfection.
Why would the leaders of the various European separatist movements, in Catalonia, Scotland and elsewhere, make common cause with the pro-EU forces who would seem to be their strongest opponents? Dalrymple proposes several reasons, one of which is:
…the leaders of the nationalist parties or separatist groups want there to be more places at the top table—vacancies that they would then fill. They might even rise to the dizzying heights of the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, who has long bestridden the world, or Europe at any rate, like a colossus. This he could never have done without the existence of the EU. In other words, personal ambition and the megalomania of petty potentates.
Not many of us would want to live next to a house whose owner had installed a life-size, fake shark on his roof, as one homeowner in Headington, Oxford did thirty years ago, but the problem with architecture in Britain today is due more to over-active bureaucrats than eccentric homeowners:
The authorities in charge of preservation often bully owners of listed houses in matters of tiny detail, at great cost to those owners, while simultaneously allowing for the wholesale desecration of whole townscapes. Anyone who doubts this phenomenon should take a look (just as one example among many) at Imperial Square in Cheltenham, where a criminally hideous tower office block has been permitted to ruin the outlook of a graceful Regency terrace once and for all.
How does one assess the significance of the recent accident in London in which a pedestrian was hit by four cars and none of them stopped to help her? As Dalrymple notes at the Salisbury Review, it was an isolated incident:
There are many hit-and-run incidents in London every year (currently about 5000), which is highly regrettable of course, and they have increased alarmingly of late years both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of all accidents; but fatalities and serious injuries have not risen in proportion to the number of hit-and-run accidents, suggesting that the increase is mostly in incidents that are relatively minor. As far as I am aware there have been no other accidents in which the victim was allegedly hit by four separate vehicles without the driver of any stopping, as if the victim were merely an injured pheasant in a country lane.