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.
We just received a nice email from Rebecca Bynum, publisher of New English Review, informing us that on August 1st she will release a book of short stories by Dalrymple. The Proper Procedure and Other Stories is 168 pages of 10 stories. Amazon link here.
This will be Dalrymple’s second work of fiction, after So Little Done, the first-person manifesto of a serial killer. No doubt many of us who admire his work have hoped to see more fiction from him, so this is an exciting development. He has often mentioned his deep admiration of Anton Chekhov, perhaps the master of the short story genre, and it will be interesting to see him follow in the footsteps of one of his great writer-heroes.
Dalrymple is quoted in the announcement thusly: “Some truth can be told only in the form of fiction. That is why I chose to write these stories.”
New English Review has published a new collection of Dalrymple’s columns, Out Into The Beautiful World. The Amazon page here includes glowing praise from some prominent figures. Myron Magnet compares Dalrymple to Montaigne, Conrad Black calls him “one of the most elegant and erudite contemporary writers in the English language”, and John O’Sullivan says, “Theodore Dalrymple has done something that all the severe literary critics had decreed impossible. He has revived the essay.”
Dalrymple’s own introductory words from the Amazon page are:
When I was a young man I thought that metaphysics was the most exciting (and important) thing in the world. I wish now that I had not wasted so much time on the imponderable questions of metaphysics but had used it to more worthwhile effect. Rather than study philosophy, I should have studied insects.
In the little essays that follow, I have no grand theory to prove, no single message to convey. Small things and slight occurrences have caught my attention and caused me to reflect a little. I hope only to please the reader.
In the following excerpt he follows a long discussion of what he calls “the doctrine of the Real Me” with the specific example of a man who recently murdered four people in the name of Islam.
The article’s headline was “The Multiple Lives of Mehdi Nemmouche.” It started:
Who knows the real Mehdi Nemmouche? Suspected of being the person responsible for the killing of four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on 24 May, he has several lives, without anyone knowing how exactly they are connected.
To help us understand and uncover the real Mehdi Nemmouche, now 29 years old, one of his childhood friends was quoted as saying that he was “a quiet boy, discreet, not at all aggressive, and who never had any problems with anybody.” Another school friend said, “He was a good pupil, he never had any fights, had friends, dressed normally in jeans and sneakers…” But for the criminal justice system he was a young man with a “solid history of delinquency,” with no fewer than seven convictions in ten years, many of them for robbery with violence. He spent five years between 2007 and 2012 in prison, in which he was “radicalized,” that is to say, he was given (and adopted) an ideological justification for his psychopathic behavior.
So who is the real Mehdi Nemmouche, the quiet, well-behaved boy or the delinquent young man who shot four people with callous and prideful indifference? Continue reading →
On Thursday evening the New Criterion hosted a launch party in New York City for the book, and your humble correspondents (along with Skeptical Doctor reader Adam) enjoyed seeing the good doctor once again. He spoke for a few minutes, humorously sharing the titles of the psychology-inspired self-help books he noticed in the bookstore of DC’s Union Station.
Other attendees included his old City Journal editor Myron Magnet, Roger Kimball and James Panero.
Dalrymple has a new book out, and we missed this review of it from three weeks ago on National Review Online. In Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality he makes his case against psychology for its practice of medicalizing, and thus excusing, destructive behavior. Reviewer Spencer Case, a philosophy student, argues that Dalrymple inaccurately defines the reductionism practised by a minority of psychiatrists who consider only physical causes as an overarching trend.
We’ll continue to share info about and reviews of the book as we find them.