Views & Reviews Between the Lines

An inside story

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b4892 (Published 17 November 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4892
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    One of our purposes in reading is to extend the range of our sympathies by imaginative entry into situations of which we can have no more direct experience. Against this, however, is the increasing tendency of bookshops to classify literature by certain characteristics of authors, to be bought, presumably, by people who share those characteristics. In other words we read not to extend but to limit our experience and to fortify ourselves against others, in the manner of Afrikaner trekkers ranging their wagons for safety in the vast night of the veldt.

    Still, it is only human to want to read what authors have made of one’s métier, which is why …

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