Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Barney’s Version

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 25 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4561
  1. Michelle Canavan, registrar, age related health care, Dublin,
  2. Desmond O’Neill, consultant in geriatric and stroke medicine, Dublin
  1. canavanmichelle{at} and doneill{at}

    Gertrude Stein wrote famously of her native Oakland that “there is no there there.” The general public, and many doctors and medical students, fear that the same might apply to life with dementia. One of the great challenges of teaching modern dementia care is to assert the vitality of life and life experience in illnesses such as dementia. Artists are often the storm troopers of consciousness, and the last novel of the great Canadian author Mordecai Richler gifts us with unique insights into life with dementia that could enhance any teaching programme related to the illness.

    Barney’s Version is the story of the eponymous Barney Panofsky, a colourful character who has led an equally colourful life. Barney is a Jewish self-made millionaire who wishes to write his memoirs while he can still remember …

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