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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Pedantry and Patricia Highsmith

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 30 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8150
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

Anyone who spends his time among old books, as I now do, must be familiar with the phenomenon of the pedant who has pounced gleefully upon the one orthographical error, underlined it in pencil, and put an exclamation mark in the margin as if this single error cancelled out all that the author has to say in the rest of the book. Indeed, one has the impression that such a person has read the entire book with the express purpose of finding such an error; for him, there is no joy quite like it.

I shall not here dilate on the psychology of pedantry, for it does not appear as a disorder in …

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