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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2007 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan 5768

Are famous writers accident-prone?

By Paul Johnson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It would be interesting to know what Thackeray weighed. As a child he was thin, in youth spare, but his appetite for food slowly became prodigious, and after Vanity Fair made him celebrated in 1848, the number of his invitations to grand dinners at the best tables in London grew steadily — he often had a choice of five or six in the season. He could never resist rich food, though he suffered agonies from indigestion and every kind of gastric, bile and liver trouble, not to speak of a recurrent stricture, the result of a venereal infection in his careless youth, never properly cured, which often made the business of urinating very painful, and sometimes impossible, forcing him to use a catheter. In his forties (he lived only to 52), he put on weight and developed a formidable paunch. He was six foot three and looked taller. His face was puffy and unformed, and his monocle, screwed in tight, gave it a comic twist. He had been forced to have a fistfight at Charterhouse, and had his nose broken in the combat. Later, travelling in France, he fell from a donkey and broke it again. It looked like a flat button, giving him an infantile look. He was described as 'resembling a gigantic baby'.


I suspect the peculiar shape of Thackeray's body in middle life made him accident-prone. He had many falls. Is there such a thing as a propensity to damage yourself? I would like to read a proper scientific study of the subject. Writers are certainly liable, the outstanding example being Ernest Hemingway. Like old Thack's, his big body was an awkward shape, but he hurt himself badly as a small child, falling with a stick in his mouth and gouging his tonsils. He also caught a fishhook in his back and hurt himself playing football and boxing. In 1918, beside being blown up in the war, he smashed his fist through a glass showcase. In 1920 he cut his feet walking on broken glass, and fell on a boat-cleat which caused internal bleeding. He burnt himself painfully while smashing up a water-heater (1922), tore a foot ligament (1925), and had the pupil of his good eye cut by his son (1927). In 1928, drunk, he mistook the skylight cord for the lavatory chain and pulled the heavy glass structure down on his hand. The result: concussion and nine stitches. The next year he tore his groin muscle, damaged an index finger, was hurt by a bolting horse, and broke his arm in a car accident. In 1935 he shot himself in the leg while drunk and trying to gaff a shark, broke his big toe kicking a locked gate, smashed his foot through a mirror and damaged the pupil of his bad eye (1938). In 1944 he was concussed twice. There was another bad car smash the next year, a clawing by a lion in 1949, a boat accident in 1950 and in 1953 a series of serious accidents in Africa, leading to a fractured skull, two cracked spinal discs, a ruptured liver, spleen and kidneys, and paralysed sphincter muscles. Bad falls, usually while drunk, continued till his suicide.


Some writers get themselves epitomised in a short sentence. Anthony Trollope 'had a voice like two men quarrelling'. George Eliot 'had a head much too big for her body'. It made her, as Jane Carlyle recorded, 'Oh, so slow!' When I was a child I was told Gladstone chewed his food 39 times before swallowing it. That is the kind of information I like to have, if true. But was it true? Did Gladstone count? Each time? There is something to be said for Dr Johnson's remark, 'There is no piece of information, however insignificant, which I do not prefer to know, than not know it.'

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Previously:

10/31/07: Courage needed to disarm Iran
09/20/07: Who Will Say ‘I Promise to Lay Off’?
07/24/07: Greed is safer than power-seeking
04/02/07: Benefactors must be hardheaded
03/07/07: American idealism and realpolitik
11/28/06: Space: Our ticket to survival
10/24/06: Envy is bad economics
10/11/06: Better to Borrow or Lend? Rethinking conventional wisdom
08/22/06: Don't practice legal terrorism
08/08/06: A summer rhapsody for a pedal-bike
08/03/06: Why is there no workable philosophy of music?
07/11/06: Historically speaking, energy crisis is America's opportunity
07/06/06: The misleading dimensions of persons and lives
06/06/06: First editions are not gold
05/23/06: A downright ugly man need never despair of attracting women, even pretty ones
04/25/06: Was Washington right about political parties?
04/12/06: Let's Have More Babies!
04/05/06: For the love of trains
03/29/06: Lincoln and the Compensation Culture
03/22/06: Bottle-beauties and the globalised blond beast
03/15/06: Europe's utopian hangover
03/08/06: Kindly write on only one side of the paper
02/28/06: Creators versus critics
02/21/06: The Rhino Principle

© 2006, Paul Johnson

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