The Devil’s Own Work

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

English novelist, Alan Judd, is the author of four previous novels, including A BREED OF HEROES (1981) and TANGO (1989). He is also the author of the highly acclaimed literary biography FORD MADOX FORD (1990). THE DEVIL’S OWN WORK was first published in England in 1991 and won the Guardian Fiction Prize. In this novel, Judd has written a terrifying tale of a young author’s pact with what seems to be the devil in order to become famous. The novel is narrated by an unnamed friend of the author who eventually learns of the bargain his friend had made. The young author, Edward, meets O. M. (Old Man) Tyrrel, a world-famous literary figure, at his home in the South of France. Tyrrel relates to Edward that he has been under the control of a mysterious and ancient handwritten manuscript. Edward is puzzled by what he is told, but he accepts the gift of the manuscript. After the transfer of the manuscript has been made, Tyrrel suddenly dies.

Edward soon learns that the ancient manuscript will allow him to write books that will not only become best-sellers but also will thrust him into literary celebrity. In addition to taking possession of the handwritten manuscript, Tyrrel’s seemingly ageless mistress, Eudoxie, becomes Edward’s companion. The narrator is a teacher and longtime friend. He is married to a woman by the name of Chantal who is seduced by Edward. Over the years, the narrator becomes aware bit by bit of the heavy price that Edward paid for his...

(The entire section is 412 words.)