Views & Reviews Between the Lines

A pipe dream

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c5839 (Published 20 October 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5839
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

The protagonist of Somerset Maugham’s novel The Narrow Corner, published in 1932, is a doctor by the name of Saunders, very like Maugham himself in philosophy if not in medical career. Maugham, of course, was a doctor, but unlike Saunders he never practised. (“One of our failures,” an eminent surgeon at St Thomas’s later said of the then richest author in the world, who made the modern equivalent of £30m (€34m; $48m) from one short story alone.)

Perhaps it would be fairer to say that Dr Saunders’s philosophy was as Maugham would have liked his own to be. Unlike Dr Saunders, Maugham was not a real cynic, unless a cynic be defined as a man who …

View Full Text

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Subscribe