Waugh Themes Appear in Two New Works

Reviews of two new works refer to themes first appearing in Waugh’s fiction. “Misery,” a play by William Goldman based on a novel by Stephen King has opened in New York and is reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. It is about a writer who is rescued from a car crash by a nurse who turns out to be a madwoman obsessed by both his writings and himself. The novel was previously made into a successful film with an outstanding performance by Kathy Lee Bates as the madwoman. King has previously acknowledged his debt to Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust (more specifically the story “The Man Who Liked Dickens” (1933), which was later incorporated as the novel’s ending). According to the WSJ review, the stage version is less successful than the film.

Another Waugh reference appears in a novel (Playthings by Alex Pheby) about the real-life case of a German judge, Daniel Paul Schreber, who suffers from psychotic delusions. According to the Guardian review:

The way the prose crisscrosses the unmarked border between reality and delusion recalls two very different novellas: Georg Büchner’s, Lenz another fusion of documented madness and fiction, and Evelyn Waugh’s The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, in which an alcoholic writer’s hallucinations are initially presented as indistinguishable from actual events: like Schreber, Pinfold is nonplussed by what is (or is not) happening.


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