The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold by Evelyn Waugh

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Gilbert Pinfold was a British writer of some renown. In his younger days he was very engaged with life and enjoyed being out and about with a host of friends. But when he reached middle age, he became bored with that life. He moved to the country with his very young wife who managed their estate and their seven children. He began to pass his days “in writing, reading, and managing his own small affairs”.


When he was about fifty, Mr. Pinfold had a difficult winter. He felt sick, his joints ached, and he couldn’t get warm. The doctor prescribed some medicine which he gladly took. He supplemented the medicine with warming tonics of his own choosing. Nothing seemed to help. In fact, his condition worsened until he could not take it any longer. He needed a holiday. His wife was worried about him and supported his decision to go away to warmer climes. Of course, business kept her at home, but he insisted that he would be fine on his own. He had a plan to slowly wean himself from the drugs and the alcohol and then to spend his days recovering from his illness and writing, working on a book that he had started but had been unable to finish. He boarded a ship bound for Ceylon.


Mr. Pinfold had barely settled into his quarters when he began to hear the strangest things being broadcast into his cabin. There was a passionate revival meeting followed by a very personal confession of sin. There was a party in full swing somewhere on board with a jazz band providing the entertainment. It was annoying to him, and he i