Academia x 2: Pinfold’s Voices and Waugh’s Propaganda

–A recent academic article about Waugh’s postwar novel The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold has been posted on the internet. This is entitled “Hearing Voices: The Extended Mind in Evelyn Waugh’s The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold” and is by Yuexi Liu, a member of the Waugh Society and co-editor of its journal, Evelyn Waugh Studies. She teaches at XJT-Liverpool University in Shanghai. The article originally appeared in Modernist Cultures, 15.2 (2020) which has now posted it. Here’s the abstract (which also appeared in a previous post):

Waugh’s last comic novel The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957) takes ‘exterior modernism’ to a new height, no longer avoiding interiority – as in his interwar fiction – but exteriorising the interior through dissociation. ‘The Box’, to which the writer-protagonist attributes the source of the tormenting voices, may well be his own mind, an extended – albeit unhealthy – mind that works as a radio: he transmits his thoughts and then receives them as external signals in order to communicate with them. Pinfold’s auditory hallucinations are caused by the breakdown of communication. Interestingly, writing is also a dissociative activity. Concerned with the writer’s block, the novel reflects on the creative process and illuminates the relationship between madness and creativity. If dissociation, or the splitting of the mind, is a defence against trauma, the traumatic experience Pinfold attempts to suppress is the Second World War. The unusual state of mind accentuates the contingency of Waugh’s radio writing; his preferred medium is cinema.

A full copy of the article is now available at this link.

–Another article appears in The Review of English Studies. This is entitled “‘Conducting his own Campaigns’: Evelyn Waugh and Propaganda” and is written by Guy Woodward (Durham University). It was originally published on 23 September 2021. Here’s the abstract:

This essay examines Evelyn Waugh as practitioner and critic in the field of wartime propaganda. In 1941, Waugh produced a fictitious account of a British Commando raid on German territory in North Africa for publication in Britain and the United States, an episode which reveals his skill as a propagandist, but also prompts scrutiny of his contacts with British propaganda agencies and agents and of the effect of propaganda on his writings. Waugh’s interwar fiction exhibits a sophisticated understanding of the evolving and growing power of modern propaganda, but the novels also anticipate the public relations and psychological warfare campaigns of the Second World War, specifically those carried out by the Political Warfare Executive (PWE), a secret service established in 1941 to produce and coordinate propaganda to enemy and occupied Europe. Waugh’s proximity to the PWE is suggested by a dense network of social and professional connections, and is further indicated by a series of references to the PWE and its work which I have uncovered in his fiction. Allusions to covert propaganda in Put Out More Flags and the Sword of Honour trilogy betray Waugh’s understanding of the PWE’s operations, but also provide a critique of the corrosive and unforeseen effects of information warfare waged by the secret state and offer a productive means of re-examining his much-noted anxieties regarding modernity and mid-century political change.

A full copy is available here.

UPDATE (29 April 2022): A correction was made in the entry about Yuexi Wu’s Gilbert Pinfold article. The original entry copied the abstract from a different article. The correct abstract is now posted.  Apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

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