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Wyndham Lewis: Painter and Writer by Paul Edwards

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Publisher : Yale University Press / Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
Binding : Hardcover
Pages : 592
Publication Date : 7/11/2000
Definition :
A clean book with unmarked pages, firm binding, no foxing, unsoiled, and that it is as close to new as possible but it is not brand new.
Equally talented as a writer and painter, Wyndham Lewis (1882–1957) was one of the most innovative and controversial artistic figures of twentieth-century Britain, renowned as the driving force behind Vorticism, the avant-garde movement that flourished in London before the First World War. This book?the first critical overview of the visual, literary, and philosophical dimensions of Lewis’s works?is also the first study to consider them as an integrated whole. Lewis the painter was an early pioneer of abstraction, and as a war artist he adopted the vocabulary of Vorticism to convey the grim struggle of the Western Front. For the rest of his career he moved at will between abstraction and representation in imaginative works, incisive life drawings, quasi-metaphysical history paintings, and portraits (most famously of the other “Men of 1914,” Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and T. S. Eliot). As a writer, Lewis produced abrasive satirical novels, short stories, and “theological fantasies” as well as powerful cultural and political analyses. Through detailed but accessible commentary Paul Edwards traces a coherent pattern in Lewis’s bafflingly diverse work and shows its centrality to a full understanding of Modernism. He also discusses Lewis’s Fascist sympathies in the 1930s, his dissociation from Fascism after 1937, his self-imposed exile in Canada during the Second World War, and the radical reevaluation of his life and intellectual commitments in his final novels. From Publishers Weekly British novelist-painter Lewis (1882-1957) has long been recognized as one of the most intriguing figures in modernist arts circles, a combative friend and colleague of figures like Pound, Eliot and Joyce. Well explicated over the years by critics like Hugh Kenner and Frederic Jameson, Lewis's harsh satiric novels like Apes of God and Monstre Gai still resonate with a vigor that places them above mere experiments. But this vast and well-illustrated volume is the first to fully blend discussion of Lewis's writing and his art. Author Edwards lectures in the English department of Bath Spa University in England. His strength is in rather dense analyses of Lewis's writings; not as fun to read as Kenner, Edwards fully confronts Lewis's often ghastly anti-Semitism, a fault Lewis famously shared with Eliot and Pound, although past critics' apologetics have sometimes obscured this. Edwards, however, has a less acute eye for visuals. Sometimes the works are read curiously: a 1912 pen and ink, Two Mechanics, showing men inert like academic nudes or posed musclemen, are described as "plodding through a... landscape," whereas the painting The Crowd (1914-1915) is termed one of Lewis's "most important," though it looks here like nothing better than a weakly decorative wallpaper design. The author tends to skirt the erotic implications of paintings like The Pole Vault or a suggestion of oral sex in 1933's The Convalescent, as he does with a series of nude drawings, which may form the basis for Lewis's greatest achievement in art, Lewis's portraits of Pound, Eliot and Joyce. The man Lewis remains elusive, even as his books and paintings (via more than 300 illustrations, evenly split between b&w and color) are usefully assembled together for further analysis. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Library Journal Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) was one of those unusual talents who worked at a high level in both painting and literature. As this detailed but ultimately unsatisfying biography makes clear, however, it was as a painter, not a writer, that Lewis displayed the most talent. The book's lavish illustrations trace Lewis's early career as an abstract painter and his role in the Vorticism movement, documenting his insightful portraits of society members and such leading literary lights of his era as James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound. Unfortunately, with his dense, professorial, and needlessly opaque text, Edwa