The Devil's Own Work

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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)
ISBN 0-00-223832-2

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[edit]

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[edit]