Pinfold and the Paranormal

A  blogger posting as has made a detailed analysis of Evelyn Waugh’s novel The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold and compared the hallucinations described there with those reported by victims of alleged invasive electronic surveillance. According to the blogpost, Waugh’s novel:

…gives a fascinating first hand account of the kind of thing those suffering from electronic harassment report and we can use this text which is composed in a methodical manner, as a valuable resource to identify the purpose and nature of these auditory hallucinations.

These descriptions of “electronic harassment” come from YouTube posts of broadcasts (linked in the blogpost) on TV and radio where these victims are interviewed. Whether these comparisons have any validity is hard to say, but a few minutes of listening to the posted broadcasts should be enough to for most of us to judge for ourselves that the comparison may be a bit of a stretch. The effort is nonetheless an interesting, original and unforeseen use of Waugh’s writings. 

Another blogger posting as Diary of an Autodidact has written a detailed review of Brideshead Revisited. At age 40, this is the first Waugh novel he has read. Here’s an excerpt of his conclusions:

Waugh was a true craftsman of words, with gem following bon mot, and pictures told clearly in an economy of words. His skill is apparent, as is his ability to see the cracks in people and society…Anthony Blanche is in many ways the most perceptive and honest character in the book, recklessly baring the souls of the other characters while making them all uncomfortable. Waugh is a delightful writer – his prose seems so effortlessly good, never labored, and always fit to the purpose. Brideshead Revisited is a good book, despite its flaws. Perhaps best is the way Waugh complicates motives. Nothing is as pure as it seems, and we are all flawed, wounded, and damaged. Waugh may not be convincing in his proposed cure, but he poses the essential questions, creating memorable characters along the way.

Finally, Canadian writer John Metcalf posting on The, begins an article with a consideration of Canadian novelist Margaret Laurence. She was once thought to be “at the leading edge of Canadian writing” and died in 1987. After a discussion of her writing style, he progresses to Evelyn Waugh and Cyril Connolly:

Most of the writers I know have treasured particular sentences by whatever writers are in the pantheon they have constructed for themselves. One of the sentences in my own casket of treasures is by Evelyn Waugh. In a review for a newspaper of World Within World, the autobiography of the rather humdrum poet and literary functionary Stephen Spender, Waugh wrote: “To see him fumbling with our rich and delicate language is to experience all the horror of seeing a Sùvres vase in the hands of a chimpanzee.” Evelyn Waugh brings me to the friend of his Oxford University days, Cyril Connolly. And Cyril Connolly will bring me back again to sentences.

The article then continues with a consideration of Connolly’s career. Waugh’s review of Spender’s book is included in the collections Essays, Articles and Reviews and A Little Order. 

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