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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Victorian values

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 22 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2230
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    We all dislike emotional shocks, of course, but it seems that only in Victorian novels are they regularly followed by “brain fever” lasting several weeks. Pip in Great Expectations and Catherine in Wuthering Heights both get it, and for a time it is touch and go with them whether they will survive. It sometimes seems as if no Victorian novel is quite complete without a bout of brain fever.

    Sir John Maltravers, in J Meade Falkner’s The Lost Stradivarius, published in 1895, has a fairly typical bout of this fell disease. Falkner (1858-1932) was a man of parts, perhaps the only chairman of a major arms manufacturing company (Armstrong Whitworth) also to have …

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