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“The unsung heroes – and heroines – of the freak drama are the narrators, because they survive, they keep staggering along, less beautifully, less ornately, more grimy and weary by the day but staggering still”

(It) is something, perhaps, about their entitlement that makes these freaks so unbridled. They have been bred up within the establishment, they know the rules intimately, and so they know, precisely, how to break them. Also, their confidence attracts the less socially secure… from less elevated backgrounds, who are constantly ill at ease in any social situation. Then, the freak emerges — beautifully tailored or, in Withnail’s case, looking somehow stylish even in a sweaty suit he hasn’t changed for months, riddled with aphorisms, squandering their privilege with such sophistication, such intelligence, that it is fascinating to observe.

The Withnail character from the film Withnail & I is compared with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby and Evelyn Waugh’s Sebastian Flyte in this examination of the ‘my friend the freak’ genre, in which a first-person viewpoint character narrates the (mis)adventures of another, more compelling, eccentric, self-destructive and generally wildly entertaining character.