Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Memento Mori

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 28 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4069
  1. Richard Smith, director, UnitedHealth Chronic Disease Initiative
  1. richardswsmith{at}

    When Muriel Spark, one of the sharpest, most unflinching, and funniest of writers, was 41 she published a book, Memento Mori, about death and old age. She examines both these forensically—and seems to me to be coming to terms with that uncomfortable pair. We and our patients all have to do the same, and this is an excellent book to help us do so.

    As A L Kennedy points out in an introduction to the book, “Almost everybody [in the book] believes they are still sound in mind and body, that they are the centre of things, that they are good and right, that they are not really going to …

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