Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Too much information

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b938 (Published 11 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b938
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    I once read a biography of Somerset Maugham, otherwise excellent, that told me more about his behaviour when demented than I thought I needed—or indeed had any right—to know. Maugham’s literary career was over, and revelations about his dementia could hardly cast any useful light on his work. Just because a fact is biographical does not mean that it should appear in a biography.

    What, then, of John Bayley’s account of the dementia of his wife, Iris Murdoch, the philosopher and novelist? It is often touching and sometimes deeply moving, but at other times it tells me, at least, things I would rather not know. I don’t really …

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