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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

A cut price Frankenstein

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 12 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d183
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

You do not normally associate the name of George Eliot (1819-80) with gothic horror, but she did try it once, in a novella called The Lifted Veil, written in 1859. It is a kind of cut price Frankenstein, exploring the desirability or otherwise of knowledge, especially but not only of foreknowledge.

The narrator is a man of indeterminate but not advanced age called Lattimer, who foresees his own death and wants to disburden himself of his story before he dies. He begins, “The time of my end approaches. I have lately been subject to attacks of angina pectoris, and in the ordinary course of things, my physician tells me, I …

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