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Wyndham Lewis (1882–1957)

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Wydham Lewis: November 18, 1882 -- March 7, 1957 Distinguished and highly original, Wyndham Lewis was known for his sharp wit and sardonic insight. A modern master of satire, Lewis was born off the coast of Nova Scotia in his English father's yacht on November 18, 1882, and grew up in England with vis mere his mother. He was associated with Roger Fry and Ezra Pound on the vorticist magazine, Blast (1914--1915). Lewis served in France in World War I, and his dynamic paintings of war scenes soon gained him wide recognition for his art, now represented in the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. After the publication of his naturalistic novel Tarr (1918), he became prominent as a writer. His major work of fiction is The Human Age (1955--56). He also wrote Doom of Youth, The Hitler Cult, and The Jews, Are They Human? Lewis died in London on March 7, 1957. (Bowker Author Biography) vis mindre
Disambiguation Notice:

(eng) Not to be confused with the humorist and biographer D. B. Wyndham-Lewis.


Værker af Wyndham Lewis

Tarr (1918) 396 eksemplarer
The Apes of God (1930) 299 eksemplarer
The Revenge for Love (1937) 206 eksemplarer
Self Condemned (1954) 153 eksemplarer
The Childermass (1928) 133 eksemplarer
Blast 1 (1981) 112 eksemplarer
Time and Western Man (1927) 103 eksemplarer
Blasting and Bombardiering (1937) 72 eksemplarer
The Art of Being Ruled (1727) 70 eksemplarer
Snooty Baronet (1656) 57 eksemplarer
Journey into Barbary (1983) 56 eksemplarer
The Complete Wild Body (1764) 46 eksemplarer
Rotting Hill (1657) 46 eksemplarer
Collected Poems and Plays (1979) 45 eksemplarer
Monstre Gai (Jupiter Books) (1965) 41 eksemplarer
The Vulgar Streak (1829) 40 eksemplarer
Malign Fiesta (1966) 38 eksemplarer
Blast II (Blast Two) (1981) 38 eksemplarer
Men Without Art (1987) 36 eksemplarer
The Caliph's Design (1986) 31 eksemplarer
The Human Age (1955) 26 eksemplarer
The Wild Body (1928) 25 eksemplarer
The Lion and the Fox (1927) 23 eksemplarer
The Letters of Wyndham Lewis (1961) 19 eksemplarer
The Demon of Progress in the Arts (1954) 18 eksemplarer
The Roaring Queen (1973) 18 eksemplarer
The Essential Wyndham Lewis (1989) 16 eksemplarer
Mrs. Dukes' million (1977) 15 eksemplarer
Blast 3 (Blast Three) (No.3) (1984) 15 eksemplarer
America and Cosmic Man (1949) 15 eksemplarer
Pound-Lewis: The Letters of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis (1985) — Forfatter — 14 eksemplarer
The Red Priest (1956) 12 eksemplarer
Filibusters in Barbary (1932) 11 eksemplarer
One-Way Song (1933) 8 eksemplarer
Hitler (1931) 8 eksemplarer
Doom of Youth (1932) 7 eksemplarer
The Jews Are They Human? (1939) 6 eksemplarer
Cantleman en ander vroeg proza (1984) 6 eksemplarer
Enemy Salvoes (1975) 6 eksemplarer
The Hitler cult (1972) 5 eksemplarer
America, I Presume (1972) 4 eksemplarer
The writer and the absolute (1975) 4 eksemplarer
Enemy Of The Stars (1914) 3 eksemplarer
Wyndham Lewis: The twenties (1984) 3 eksemplarer
The Old Gang And The New Gang (1972) 3 eksemplarer
The Mysterious Mr Bull 2 eksemplarer
The Sea-Mists Of The Winter (1981) 2 eksemplarer
Blast: Nos. 1 & 2 2 eksemplarer
The Role Of Line In Art (2007) 2 eksemplarer
Satire & Fiction (1974) 2 eksemplarer
Wyndham Lewis, 1882-1957 (1990) 2 eksemplarer
Mixed lot. 1 eksemplar
The Tyro No 2 1 eksemplar
Crossing the frontier (1978) 1 eksemplar
Crossing The Water 1 eksemplar
Timon Of Athens 1 eksemplar
Blast 1 2 &3 (1981) 1 eksemplar

Associated Works

Coriolanus (1623) — Criticism, nogle udgaver2,718 eksemplarer
The Penguin Book of Contemporary Verse (1950) — Bidragyder, nogle udgaver263 eksemplarer
Selected Poems, 1908–1969 (1975) — Omslagsfotograf/tegner/..., nogle udgaver208 eksemplarer
Twentieth Century Interpretations of 1984 (1971) — Bidragyder — 18 eksemplarer
The Bedside Lilliput (1950) — Bidragyder — 11 eksemplarer
Agenda : Wyndham Lewis special issue — Bidragyder — 6 eksemplarer
The art of Wyndham Lewis (1951) — Bidragyder — 5 eksemplarer
GOLDEN SECTIONS (1957) — Introduktion — 4 eksemplarer
Beyond this limit : selected shorter fiction of Naomi Mitchison (1986) — Illustrator — 3 eksemplarer

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In December 1913, Ezra Pound wrote to William Carlos Williams calling the London art/literary scene ''The Vortex.'' Wyndham Lewis in turn appropriated the term to christen his budding movement in the arts, ''Vorticism.'' Vorticism was baptized on June 20, 1914 in the first issue of BLAST, A Review of the Great English Vortex - Lewis's revolutionary magazine. BLAST is now considered one of this century's examples of modernist expression and typography, both historically indispensable and a milestone in modern thought. To the artistic audience of its time, the first issue of BLAST came as a brutal shock (Lewis's plan was to create a ''battering ram''), a quality that has been preserved in this first facsimile edition. Described by Lewis as ''violent pink,'' but by some others as the ''puce monster,'' the large format magazine displayed radical typography and design, featuring a ''Vorticist Manifesto'' and eye-popping lists of items to be ''Blessed'' and ''Blasted.'' This new edition of BLAST documents in its original format the raw energy, violent humor, and graphic inventiveness.

Introduction by Paul Edwards.
… (mere)
petervanbeveren | Mar 21, 2023 |
Am a fan of Lewis' prose and his fiction, but this is weak, especially with the benefit of having seen his prognostications of a quasi-Fukuyaman end of history collapsing before our eyes.
Duffyevsky | Aug 19, 2022 |
review of
Wyndham Lewis's The Childermass
(Book One of The Human Age)
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 12-18, 2015

Hold onto yr spats! My review is "too long". This version's just cut off so if you want to read the full review (highly recommended by yrs truly) go here to "The Book of the Dagnabbited-all-to-Heck":


In order to do this bk 'justice' I'd probably have to write a longer review than I'm planning to. I've probably had some vague knowledge of Lewis for decades, I've probably known of him mainly as a Vorticist painter. Vorticism appeals to me somewhat as a somewhat avant garde school of painting akin to Cubism & Italian Futurism that started very briefly after the latter 2 mvmts did. I knew that Lewis was a writer but probably thought of him 1st & foremost as a painter. Having now read The Childermass I have to give him more credit as an excellent & unique writer indeed.

The Human Age was published by Jupiter Books from London. They're a subset of John Calder. I'd known of Calder as the publishers of the editions that I have of Raymond Roussel's Impressions of Africa & Locus Solus & that's about as good as it gets. The back of The Childermass also mentions publishing work by Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Alain Robbe-Grillet, & Jorge Luis Borges, amongst others - very interesting authors, all.

I'd probably read that Lewis was vaguely 'right wing' - akin to, perhaps, Céline - whose bks Journey to the End of Night & Rigadoon I've read & liked somewhat but the ellipsis technique wore on me quickly. Céline, notorious as a nazi sympathizer, comes across surprisingly as somewhat humanitarian & caring, albeit cynical, in the bks, as I remember these many decades later. Lewis has a similar reputation as a Fascist sympathizer & he & Ezra Pound were collaborators: "In 1914 Wyndham Lewis and the American poet and critic Ezra Pound together promoted Vorticism, an avant-garde movement celebrating the machine age" ( http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/lewis-ezra-pound-n05042 ).

Italian Futurism also celebrated the machine age AND war - & its founder, Filippo Marinetti, was supported by Fascist leader Mussolini. Pound supported the Fascists in WWII while he was living in Italy & was incarcerated in St Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington DC b/c he was let off as insane rather than executed as a traitor. I recall reading that while in the reputedly luxurious confines of the hospital he was visited by George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. Unfortunately, I can't substantiate this so it might be a purely apocryphal story or even outright slander.

Given that I'm not in any hurry to read bks by Fascist or Nazi sympathizers I wasn't in a rush to read something by Lewis. What convinced me to read both him & Céline is that they're both experimental novelists & that's a primary interest of mine.

Perhaps my 1st question is: was Lewis really a Fascist or Fascist sympathizer? A Lewis enthusiast that I correspond w/ named "Miss Noma" claims that that's slander. In Lewis's 1941 novel The Vulgar Streak (13 yrs after The Childermass), wch I haven't read but wch I've glimpsed thru, there's this passage:

"["]you are quite unable to fathom the intensity of the religion of class, which in England restricts the personal development of any man or woman born outside the genteel pale. It denies espansion to him or to her as much as the shoes formerly worn by Chinese ladies denied normal development to the feet. It stops you from breathing freely—indeed from existing in freedom at all. If you are born one of the poor, you must go about disguised. It is the only way."" - p 175 of the 1985 Black Sparrow Press edition

I don't know how that fits in the overall novel but that doesn't strike me as very 'right wing' at all. Furthermore, in Paul Edwards's "Afterword" to the same bk, it's written that ""its politics are overtly liberal". (p 241) Edwards goes on to elucidate:

"If Lewis's self was a battleground of contradictory forces, his way of writing fiction (of "making strange") involved stressing aspects of his self that were not likely to receive ready social assent. But during the thirties his "Enemy" persona, at first the battleground of a multiplicity of cultural, artistic and intellectual oppositions, became increasingly defined in narrowly political discourse, until he could be described by Auden as "that lonely old volcano of the right."" - p 244

I particularly like the "making strange" description of the writing & will return to that now & then. Edwards appears to explore this complexity of Lewis's character convincingly in his Afterword:

"Lewis thought that his contributions to political debate in the thirties were "neutral," but the time belatedly arrived when he recognized that "to be neutral is to be anti-British" (The Hitler Cult, 1939), when he at last aligned himself with his only real audience, the intellectuals. There had been some signs already: in 1938 he had sent a picture to be auctioned for Republican Spain, and by mid-1939 he was regretting the fall of Barcelona to the Falangists as "the end of a chapter."" - p 244

"In his book on Lewis's politics, The Filibuster, D. G. Bridson tells us that the Munich crisis of September 1938 was one more such symbolic moment for Lewis: hearing Hitler hurling abuse at President Benes over the radio "came as sickening revelation" to him." - p 245

"["]in The Vulgar Streak it links Vincent with the collapse of that civilization as well as with those "diabolical machines of empty will, Hitler and Mussolini." - p 245

In support of a perception of Lewis's as by-no-means simple, I quote at length from Alan Munton's "Wyndham Lewis: From Proudhon to Hitler (and back): the Strange Political Journey of Wyndham Lewis":

"If the brief revisionist survey which follows appears to some readers to be a challenge too far to the prevailing orthodoxy, let me hint at the possibilities by quoting from the autobiography Blasting and Bombardiering, published in 1937 at about the time Lewis’s politics changed: “I am the most broadminded ‘leftwinger’ in England” (305).

"Lewis was in some meaningful sense on the Left until about 1930. During the mid-1920s he deals with ideas that open more naturally towards socialism and anarchism than they do towards the right and to fascism; some of these are discussed below. He also held a “culturalist” view by which revolutionary art and thought precedes revolutionary politics:

"'Before there can be political change there must have been some other more fundamental change [….] So all popular revolutions, of whatever nature, have always, before they occurred, virtually existed in the consciousness and behaviour of a minority, and often, visibly, in phalansteries and colonies [....] The merely political revolutionary is thus […] an interpreter only of a creative mind.'

"That was written in the conclusion to “The Diabolical Principle,” published in Lewis’s own journal The Enemy at the beginning of 1929 (Vol. 3, 74-5).The rightward turn occurred not long afterwards, during a visit to Germany in November 1930, two months after elections which had given the Nazi party over six million votes. Reflections on Hitler appeared as magazine articles in Time and Tide in January and February 1931, and as a book in March. This was the first book on Hitler published anywhere, and the dustjacket was adorned with Lewis’s own design, which featured several swastikas. That book was translated into German and published in Berlin in 1932. It was pulped in or just after 1933, for reasons that are unclear, though it seems likely that what displeased British readers was not enough to please Goebbels. Lewis remained politically on the right until 1937. During that time he attacked Communism and communists, was sympathetic to the Nationalist rebels in Spain, and allowed his pacifism and fear of another European war to permit a tolerance of Hitler that it is kind to call “radical appeasement.” Lewis’s polemics at this time were often directed against other intellectuals, particularly those on the Left, and gave rise to his phrase “Left wings,” as in the “bad” polemic of 1936 already mentioned, Left Wings over Europe. In early 1937 he published an article in the British Union Quarterly, the relaunched journal of Mosley’s fascists, entitled “‘Left Wings’ and the C3 Mind.” (The term “C3” derives from the armed forces’ lowest category of physical fitness.) In August of 1937 Lewis and his wife visited Berlin; they left quickly, Mrs Lewis later said, “because we found it very uncomfortable, or Wyndham did at least” (O’Keeffe, Some sort of genius, 371). Visible German militarism, and a visit to the ghetto in Warsaw, initiated the change in Lewis’s politics; in 1938 Kristallnacht (November 9-10) confirmed it." - https://erea.revues.org/220

The choice of Proudhon as a symbol of anarchy & more 'liberal' politics is yet-another problematic thing here insofar as many consider Proudhon to've been a virulent anti-Semite whose views cd've certainly been inspiring to Nazis:

"Pierre Joseph Proudhon 1847

"On the Jews

"Source: Carnets de P.J. Proudhon. Paris, M. Rivière, 1960;
"Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor.

"Translator’s note: Though some twentieth century writers have maintained that Proudhon was not an anti-Semite, we find in his notebooks proof of the contrary. In this selection from his notebooks Proudhon’s anti-Semitism goes far beyond that of Marx at approximately the same time, calling not for the end of what Jews represent, i.e., capitalism, but of the Jews as a people. Proudhon’s privately expressed thoughts were elaborated on in the same year as this entry by his follower Alphonse Toussenel in his “Les Juifs, Rois de l’Epoque,” The Jews, Kings of the Era. After reading the passage translated here it can come as no surprise that the founder of the royalist group Action Française, the Jew-hater Charles Maurras, drew inspiration from Proudhon.

"'December 26, 1847: Jews. Write an article against this race that poisons everything by sticking its nose into everything without ever mixing with any other people. Demand its expulsion from France with the exception of those individuals married to French women. Abolish synagogues and not admit them to any employment. Finally, pursue the abolition of this religion. It’s not without cause that the Christians called them deicide. The Jew is the enemy of humankind. They must be sent back to Asia or be exterminated. By steel or by fire or by expulsion the Jew must disappear.'" - https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/proudhon/1847/jews.htm

Is Lewis anti-semitic? I'd say probably not but there are passages in The Childermass wch come uncomfortably close wch are probably insertions of expressions common for his time: "you are a disbelieving Jew !'" (p 101)

Pound, whose scholarliness has earned respect from such anti-Fascists as Beat poet Ed Sanders, clearly had a love for Italian culture that was probably greater than his love of American culture. When Fascism started in Italy as a nationalist mvmt it was by no means clear that it wd become as destructive as it did. It seems probable to me that Pound thought he was supporting Italian culture as much as anything. Then again, I've read very little Pound & can't discuss it intelligently.

Lewis's The Human Age is "obviously intended to parallel Dante's Divine Comedy" according to the blurb on The Childermass's back cover. "The Divine Comedy (Italian: Divina Commedia [diˈviːna komˈmɛːdja]) is an epic poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem's imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. It helped establish the Tuscan language, in which it is written, as the standardized Italian language. It is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Comedy ) Considering The Divine Comedy's profound importance in the history of writing it's possible that Lewis, like Pound, was a supporter of Italian culture & that that influenced his political views in the 1930s. That's speculation on my part, I still 'know' next to nothing about Lewis.

WHEW! The irony of my getting into these politics to the extent that I have here is that I find them mostly, if not entirely, irrelevant to The Childermass (1928)! Instead, I find the bk highly remarkable as a formallly imaginative work. In its meandering, frustrating 'nowhereness' it impresses me as a precursor to the writings of Maurice Blanchot, eg in Aminadab (1942), Samuel Beckett, eg in Waiting for Godot (1948-1949), Flann O'Brien, eg in The Third Policeman, Haruki Murakami, eg in Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1985), & Kazuo Ishiguro, eg in The Unconsoled (1995).

The Childermass is like an anxiety dream in wch nothing can be depended on & a fear of one's environment transforming in a hostile way is ever-present, if not always actualized. The only author whose threatening ambiguity I can think of as a precursor to Lewis is Franz Kafka, whose novels The Trial & The Castle were published posthumously in 1925 & 1926 respectively.

The Childermass isn't broken into chapters, making it immediately more difficult as a reading experience since there're no convenient stopping points for the reader. I wondered whether Lewis, like his fellow painter Salvador Dali, might not've written this novel in an intense stream-of-consciousness session over a short period of time - Dali having written his only novel, Hidden Faces, in a 2 wk period. Imagine writing a novel as a painter, focusing more on images than on sense, more on sensuality than on coherency. The Childermass isn't broken into chapters but it does have basically 2 parts: the 1st of wandering by Pullman & Satters, recently arrived in 'the afterlife'; followed by The Bailiff's interaction w/ the appellants implied to be seeking entrance into 'heaven'.

But is it 'heaven'? & wch of the parts of The Divine Comedy is The Childermass hypothetically parallel to? If The Human Age follows the progress of The Divine Comedy then this 1st bk wd be 'hell' & there are references to the heat.. but while the conditions are annoying, they're more like HECK than 'hell', more like a 'hell'-lite. Instead, this seems more like 'purgatory', more like the waiting ground where The Bailiff might be St Peter waiting at the Pearly Gates - wch may just turn out to be a gaping mouth ready to chomp its pearly teeth down on entrants. As of The Childermass the reader doesn't 'know' & I'm not so sure that the reader ever will - even after reading the following 2 bks: Monstre Gai & Malign Fiesta.

At 1st, I was mainly impressed by the language. As w/ Joseph McElroy's Women and Men, I found The Childermass to be astonishingly free of stock phrases. I love my own writing but even I just used "stock phrases", as I used "virulent anti-Semite" earlier - both of those being stock phrases - but if I'd written 'stock car racing heart market' wd you've understood me? I'm sooooooooo misunderstood.

"In burning appropriate soliloquy the first neuter show-baby hen-pecks his dolly Pulley to himself and comes out of his nursery, with a cave-man scowl for the rejuvenating mask at his side. The less stable ghost to which he has been attached, it seems, does not look at him now at all." - p 48

"Could it hear if it would? Can wood, a little head-wool, a neat waxen ear innocent of cerumen but also drumless, an eye of jade, can linen and shoe-leather respond? The bourgeois lay-figure says No with its dapper jutting sleek undisturbed profile." - p 61

"They both rest on their oars for an interval, Satters stumbling along short-winded, his breath sawing a little in his throat." - p 98

I don't know if mixed metaphors are still a no-no according to writing academics but I find them quite stimulating. Above, the 1st metaphor is a rowing one: exertion is paused while the exerters rest on the rowing apparatus, presumably wooden, instead of further exerting themselves w/ them. The 2nd metaphor has an over-exerted character manifesting his exertion w/ a rasping sound associated w/ cutting wood - wch cd be thought of as the wood of the oars.

The circumstances of this afterlife are mystifying rather than mystical:

"Satterthwaite is in knee-cords, football stogies, tasselled golf stocking, a Fair Ilse jumper, a frogged mess jacket, a Mons Star pinned upon the left breast, and a Rugby cap, the tinsel rusted, of out-size, canted forward.

"'Where the devil did you get that outlandish kit from?'

"'I know — !' He looks down without seeing. 'I'm damned if I know !'" - p 12

Our characters arrive in the afterlife w/ clothing not of their own choosing [stock phrase used by reviewer]. Images of the afterlife are always sortof WHA? to me anyway so why not have them have clothes? The typical Christinane image that I think of is people wearing white togas standing on clouds & playing harps. Where did that image come from? Certainly not from the much more imaginative Hieronymus Bosch! If I were to believe in an afterlife in that sense of I-will-continue-pretty-much-as-I-am-now, wch I don't, I certainly wdn't imagine myself in a white toga standing on clouds OR in a hodge-podge of sports & military clothing. One might hope that in 'heaven' (a ridiculous bit of wishful thinking) one cd at least go around starkers, eh?! In my 'heaven' there might be the Moslem virgin maidens (more ridiculous wishful thinking held out to the deprived as a reward they'll certainly never get in this lifetime) but what good is that if they stay virgins?! I need to fuck, lardy. In 'heaven' there's no testicular or breast cancer, right?
… (mere)
tENTATIVELY | 1 anden anmeldelse | Apr 3, 2022 |
It's a useful book for understanding how deep antisemitism ran in Britain before WWII. While sincerely (I think) trying to defend "the Jews," he ends up endorsing the basic premises of antisemitism. I've used it in classes for showing how something can be racist and anti=racist (while it attacks certain racist attitudes, it leaves others strengthened.)

I hadn't read it in over ten years, and I thought maybe it had gotten worse over the years in my memory. Nope.

trishrobertsmiller | Jan 24, 2022 |



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