Views & Reviews Between the lines

Grumpy old men

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 29 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1159
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    It is generally admitted, wrote R R Madden MD at the beginning of his book The Infirmities of Genius Illustrated by Referring the Anomalies in the Literary Character to the Constitutional Peculiarities of Men of Genius, published in 1833, that literary men are an irritable race, subject to many infirmities, both in mind and body. Worldly prosperity and domestic happiness are not often the result of their pursuits.

    Fame and frailty, he says, are inseparable companions. This, he continues, is just as well; for it renders those of humbler capacities contented with their lot. Let us “thank God [we] are not like the . . . poor children of genius, frail in health, feeble in resolution, in small matters improvident, and …

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