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JAMA 100 Years Ago
April 21, 1999


Author Affiliations

Edited by Jennifer Reiling, Editorial Assistant.

JAMA. 1999;281(15):1442. doi:10.1001/jama.281.15.1442

A most grave and damaging accusation was brought against the great masters of fiction a few weeks ago by the Medical Press and Circular—no less than a charge of seriously misrepresenting one of the most important elements of human welfare, the birth-rate. It was alleged, and what was more, figures were given to prove it, that the average proportion of births to deaths in some forty of our most popular novels, was as one to ninety-six. . . . In those whose sole profession is to "hold the mirror up to nature" such false drawing is indeed a generous fault. As our contemporary well points out, at this rate the charming world of fiction, those Islands of the Blest to which our tired souls, sick and weary of this workaday world, turn for relief and cheer, will soon become totally depopulated; a mere howling wilderness. . . .

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