[Daily article] November 23: The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold

The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold is a novel by the British writer Evelyn
Waugh (pictured), his next-to-last full-length work of fiction, first
published in July 1957. He called it his “mad book”—a largely
autobiographical account concerning the early months of 1954 when he was
hallucinating as a result of his addictions. In search of a peaceful
environment in which he could resume writing, he had embarked on a sea
voyage, but was driven to the point of madness by imagined voices. These
experiences are mirrored in the novel: Pinfold, as an antidote to his
weariness and chronic insomnia, is dosing himself with a mixture of
barbiturates and alcohol, and hearing voices that insult, taunt and
threaten him. He is advised that the voices are imaginary, but Pinfold
ascribes his rapid cure to a private victory over the forces of evil,
not to the cessation of his drug habit. General critical reception to
the book was muted; some reviewers admired the opening self-portrait of
Waugh, but generally not the ending. The book has been dramatised for
radio and as a stage play.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:


Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the English throne during the
reign of King Henry VII, was hanged after allegedly attempting to escape
from the Tower of London.


African slaves from Akwamu in the Danish West Indies revolted
against their owners, one of the earliest and longest slave revolts in
the Americas.


An Anglo-Ethiopian boundary commission in the Ogaden
encountered a garrison of Somalis in Italian service at Walwal, which
led to the Abyssinia Crisis.


An earthquake struck the Irpinia region of Italy, killing 2,914
people, injuring more than 10,000 and leaving 300,000 homeless.


Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 was hijacked, then crashed into
the Indian Ocean near the Comoros after running out of fuel, killing 125
of the 175 people on board.

Wiktionary’s word of the day:

scream blue murder:
(idiomatic) To protest loudly or angrily.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

  A stupid person can make only certain, limited types of errors;
the mistakes open to a clever fellow are far broader. But to the one who
knows how smart he is compared to everyone else, the possibilities for
true idiocy are boundless.  
–Steven Brust

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