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Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold Paperback – March 30, 1979

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The very model of the modern paranoid novel."—John Leonard, New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5 1-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (March 30, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316926221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316926225
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,763,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If there are any aspiring writers of comic novels out there then I earnestly entreat you to have a quick read of this book. Writing humour is never easy but here is the great Evelyn Waugh showing how to do it. Not a word out of place, the mot juste on every occasion, prose stripped down to the bare minimum.
I read this book about twice a year. It is very short and can be read in a day. And, heavens!, how hilarious it is!
It is based on a true life cruise that Waugh went on in which he really did start to hear voices.
It is not one of his most well-known so it can be hard to obtain; it's well worth it though!
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Format: Paperback
Mr. Pinfold has become ill from his use of drugs, food and alcohol, and is in general dried up as far as writing goes. In order to "take the sea air" and follow his doctor's orders he embarks upon a cruise. He does not, however, stop the sleeping medications, and is probably seriously clinically depressed as well. the combination becomes the conduit for a series of hallucinations which become a nightmare and a reality for Gilbert Pinfold. Although humerous, the book is crafted in such a way that we see the suffering that losing touch with reality causes, and when Gilbert finally arrives at port and at peace, we are glad we read the book, and glad the author recovered his muse.
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Format: Paperback
Waugh, Evelyn, The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1957.

A middle-aged novelist, somewhat corpulent and partial to his toddy, almost a mirror of Waugh at the time, books steamer passage to Ceylon for a solo vacation to settle his nerves. What he gets instead is incessant noise, voices, music and criticism directed at himself through the walls and floors of his cabin. How he deals with these disturbances makes for a troubling but sometimes hilarious and often moving novella. Are these noises hallucinations or cleverly designed tricks played over the BBC? Who is directing them? How would the reader react to them in Gilbert's place? His solution is cunning and the novella is a fine piece of writing indeed. Five stars.
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Format: Paperback
As someone who has suffered from psychotic delusions periodically over a good deal of my adult life, it can be said with certainty that I have never read a more realistic account of this type of mental illness than Evelyn Waugh's classic 1957 novel "The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold."

In the Note preceeding the text it is explained that author Waugh suffered "a brief bout of hallucination closely resembling what is here described" three years prior to writing the book. It is my view that only someone who has suffered from auditory hallucinations could have possibly led the reader on this excruciatingly painful yet revealing journey through the darker parts of the mind. Waugh knows of what he writes.

Highly recommended
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Format: Paperback
This is about the 7th or 8th book written by Evelyn Waugh that I have read. Some are better than others and this is one of the better ones. In searching for the proper adjective to describe "The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold", I settled on "delightful". A writer (this is very autobiographical from what I understand) is suffering hallucinations for a variety of reasons; too much alcohol, too much medication, too many wrong combinations of each, etc. To recover up he sets out on a cruise to Ceylon on a modest-sized ship. His intention was to sober up but he kept putting that off and what we get is an hilarious account, through his eyes, of the various plots and subplots of persons real and imagined. The novel works best because it is told with sincerity through the eyes of the person having these paranoid hallucinations.

Mental illness is somewhat of a taboo these days so some may find the book offensive. If you're such a person then I don't recommend this book. I admit, I found similarities with Mr. Pinfold's experience and those of some clients of mine but I don't hold that against Mr. Waugh. Indeed, Mr. Waugh probably found it therapudical to write this book. I took it with that perspective and chuckled frequently throughout the book.

This is a rather short book and will probably be read from start to finish in the same day for most readers. After all, it is hard to put down primarily because it moves along so smoothly and you never know what will happen next. It wraps itself up very neatly and quickly at the end. Too bad it doesn't work that way for most people in the same boat (sorry).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love several of Waugh's novels but this is my favorite, even surpassing A Handful of Dust and The Loved One in its comic darkness. Perhaps because it is semi-autobiographical it's more entertaining to read the bizarre experience of Mr. Pinfold, who seems to be Waugh himself, Catholic convert and not-so-genial misanthrope.

Gilbert Pinfold has a serious drinking problem exacerbated by liberal mis-use of prescription drugs but decides a sea voyage is just the ticket to help him kick his habit(s). Although he's not feeling too well beforehand (all the brandy with bromide & chloral may have something to do with it) he decides sea air will make him a new man tout de suite and books passage on the S.S. Caliban. Before his cruise he reluctantly agrees to an interview with a BBC interviewer named Angel who comes to his home with a "box" to record the conversation for later broadcast. The box appears later on in a more sinister setting.

Almost as soon as he boards ship he's hearing music and even voices in his cabin (and a dog "snuffling" in the adjacent cabin). He assumes the Caliban is a war ship retrofitted after the war and remnants of a communication system must be randomly projecting conversations from various areas. Many are derogatorily aimed at him and he believes he's generally reviled by his fellow passengers although he can't quite manage to identify any in person in the dining room or bar or on the deck. He overhears the brutal mistreatment and resulting death of one of the ship's foreign crew by the Captain and a woman he dubs "Goneril" and is perplexed by the dilemma since he seems to have no allies on board except possibly a pair of fellow Brit military veterans... whose identities also elude him.
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