The Devil's Own Work

The Devil's Own Work

The Devil's Own Work
First edition (UK)
Author Alan Judd
Cover artist Gustav Klimt,
"Judith", 1901
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Harper Collins (UK)
Knopf (US)
Publication date
1991 (UK)
1994 (US)
Media type Print
Pages 96 (UK)

The Devil's Own Work is a 1991 novella by Alan Judd which won the Guardian Fiction Award. A modern version of the Faust legend,[1] it was inspired by a dinner with Graham Greene.[2] and tells of a pact an author makes with the devil as told by his lifelong friend. In style the work was compared by Publishers Weekly with that of Henry James.[3]

Plot introduction

The unnamed narrator tells of his friend Edward's meeting in the south of France with O. M. (Old Man) Tyrell, a renowned author. Tyrell is found dead the following morning and the narrator later learns that Tyrell has given Edward a peculiar handwritten manuscript which becomes the source of Edward's later literary success. Edward also inherits Tyrell's ageless mistress Eudoxie but all is far from well with Edward who grows to loathe the hold that the manuscript and Eudoxie have over him but is unable to escape...


  • Elaine Kendall writing for the Los Angeles Times was positive, concluding "Wry and insightful, The Devil's Own Work toys with the notion of demonic possession but becomes a thoroughly realistic and highly original story of revenge; a chilling cautionary tale for literary critics and an unalloyed delight for everyone else".[4]
  • The Spectator was similarly enamoured, "a brilliant novella, almost a fable".[5]
  • Kirkus Reviews however concluded "Judd seems to intend his tale as an allegory about the price of success, but the connections are strained and the plotting predictable. An uneasy, unhappy, and unproductive mix of Ford Madox Ford and Stephen King.[6]

Publication history

  • 1991, UK, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-223832-2, Pub date Jan 1991, Hardback
  • 1992, UK, Flamingo, ISBN 0-00-654494-0, Paperback
  • 1994, US, Knopf, ISBN 0-679-42552-7, Pub date Jun 1994, Hardback
  • 1995, UK, Vintage, ISBN 0-679-74745-1, Paperback
  • 1997, US, Random House, ISBN 0-517-19357-4, Hardback



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  4. ^ BOOK REVIEW / NOVEL : A Story of Literary Dreams and Revenge : THE DEVIL'S OWN WORK by Alan Judd ; Knopf $17, 115 pages - Los Angeles Times Retrieved 2013-09-20.
  5. ^ Thirty years on » The Spectator Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  6. ^ THE DEVIL'S OWN WORK by Alan Judd | Kirkus Retrieved 2013-09-20.
  7. ^ Retrieved 2013-09-20.