Intended for healthcare professionals


Premature burial

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 11 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:99
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Henry James once remarked that an excessive interest in the works of Edgar Allan Poe was the sign of a primitive sensibility: such as Baudelaire's, I suppose. I cannot but agree with James on this point, and I might add that Poe's prose style seems to me dense without depth and earnest without seriousness.

    One of Poe's preoccupations was shared by many people of his time, namely premature burial. Throughout the 19th century, and even into the beginning of the 20th century, books appeared about the danger of precocious interment, with advice as to how to avoid it. There was even a Society for the Prevention of Burial Before Death, which published many books and pamphlets; it made much …

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