Pinfold Article Available

The previously mentioned article on Waugh’s novel The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold by Dr Barbara Cooke has now been published and posted on the internet. See previous post and abstract. It is now available to download at this link. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction (footnotes omitted):

In 1957, Evelyn Waugh published The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold: a conversation piece. The text was presented and marketed as a novel less for accuracy than for convenience, and it subtitle implies adjacency to, as opposed to full identification with, that stable literary category. It is fiction, but it is also highly autobiographical. Its protagonist shares many of his authors personality traits he too is a fifty-year-old writer and its action is based very closely on a personal breakdown Waugh endured in early 1954. This breakdown occurred when Waugh embarked on the M.V. Staffordshire, alone, to sail to Sri Lanka. He was suffering from bromide poisoning which led him to experience auditory hallucinations during the trip. In Pinfold these distressing circumstances are related in a tone of humorous detachment that led to patchy critical classification, with varying levels of approval, as a comedy. It is clear from Waugh’s personal writings, and his recently discovered engagement diaries, that King Lear was on his mind both during his psychotic episode of 1954 and throughout the drafting process of the text that episode inspired. Pinfold was composed in two bursts of creativity in 1956, during which time Waugh was constantly re-reading Lear, and the play’s presence resonates throughout the text to such an extent that the second work may be studied as a form of postmodern, disordered adaptation of the first…

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