Views & Reviews Between the Lines

What a nerve

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 14 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2036
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

Many plays have a doctor as a character, but few have five (of a total cast of 10). Jupiter Laughs is one such play, and, not surprisingly, perhaps, it is by a doctor: A J Cronin (1896-1981). Cronin, whom the Dictionary of National Biography describes as “a middlebrow writer par excellence,”—and who, like Anthony Trollope, tried to write 5000 words a day, rain or shine—wrote it in 1941.

The action takes place in a private clinic for “nerves” called Hopewell Towers—the tradition of giving cheery names to places for desperate cases lives on). The clinic is owned and directed by Dr Bragg, an immaculately dressed, pompous careerist. Among his staff is an ambitious and non-conformist young …

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