“The Amazing Eyes of Kuda Bux”

It’s not often I get to read a story by Roald Dahl that I’ve never read before! Recently I had that wonderful thrill though when I finally managed to track down a copy of Dahl’s 1952 essay “The Amazing Eyes of Kuda Bux” in an old magazine on eBay. I knew that Kuda Bux had been a real person, an Indian fakir who walked on fire and claimed to be able to see without his eyes. I knew that Dahl had written a “hard-to-believe true story” about Bux, and then twenty-five years later used him as inspiration for “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.” What I hadn’t realised though was just how much of “Henry Sugar” was already present in the earlier work. I’d estimate that 90% of the fictional account of Imhrat Khan’s life in “Henry Sugar” is reproduced nearly verbatim from the earlier essay. I’ve detailed the differences between the texts here if you’re interested. I guess the lesson is that Dahl didn’t hesitate at reusing and recycling earlier work when it suited him!