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Views & Reviews Between the lines

Reality bites

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 28 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1377
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Public affairs, Dr Johnson once said, vex no man. What he meant by this, I suppose, is that what really and truly interests and motivates us is our private little world, and that when we pretend to care deeply about politics we deceive both ourselves and others.

    Guy de Maupassant has a story making precisely the same point. Dr Massarel is the doctor in the small Normandy town of Canneville, and the leading republican there. The mayor, the Vicomte de Varnetot, is an adherent of Napoleon III.

    At the start of the story, which is one of the funniest that I know, two peasants come to consult Dr Massarel. The husband …

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