The novels of Wyndham Lewis

Kinninmont, Thomas Hall (1974) The novels of Wyndham Lewis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The thesis attempts to re-examine the novels of Wyndham Lewis, emphasising language, style and general artistry in the novels. The introduction looks briefly at some of the confusion which surrounds criticism of Lewis and makes the case for close textual criticism of his novels to balance the excessive tendency to value his novels in terms of his philosophical and political ideas. Lewis was always conscious of his novels as works of art and they often possess a balance which, his polemics lack. It may be also that close textual scrutiny will shed a different light on some of his ideas. After a general look at Lewis's first widely published ventures - Vorticism and the publication of Blast, each of the novels is examined in turn, and an interpretation based as closely as possible on the text is offered. Tarr is interpreted with more emphasis on the satirisation of Tarr himself than has formerly been the case and the implications of this satire are considered. The Apes of God is seen mainly as a linguistic triumph, commanding admiration on every page, but failing to move effectively in several places. At the same time an examination of the language employed shows that the external approach of which Lewis boasted is not employed as exclusively as many have believed. Snooty Paronet is completely revalued, soon as a satire on the main character, and the break which this represents from Lewis's earlier work is emphasised. The Revenge For Love is assessed as one of Lewis's finest novels and the complexity of motif and imagery is looked at in some detail. The assertion of values not hitherto present in Lewis's work is also discussed and theme is pursued in The Vulgar Streak where Lewis's imagery appears in its most concise form. A strong contrast is made between the manner in which language denoting hollowness and falseness is employed here as opposed to the manner in which it is employed in earlier novels such as The Ape of God. Self Condemned, Lewis's bitter post-war novel is similarly examined in terms of its language and the implications of severe criticism of the intellect are considered. The Human an incomplete tetralogy is next considered. The first part of this, The Childermass 1. was written in 1928 and the subsequent parts in the early fifties, so the work provides a useful opportunity to examine the ways in which Lewis's work had changed in the interim. Lastly, The Pad Priest, Lewis' s final novel is examined. It is held to be inferior, though interesting, and while it makes intriguing use of some of Lewis's thematic ideas, it appears to have loose ends boat explained by Lewis's blindness and ill-health at the time of writing. Lewis had in fact been blind throughout the writing of Monstre Gai and Malign Fiesta, the last two books of the existing parts of The Human Age but his writing in these is a model of clarity, contrasting; strangely with the linguistic brilliance of of his early work. In both cases, the early novels and the late, much important detail has hitherto been ignored and erroneous interpretations of Lewis's novels have become widely current. This thesis hopes to remedy some part of this injustice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: British & Irish literature
Date of Award: 1974
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1974-72417
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 May 2019 15:12
Last Modified: 24 May 2019 15:12

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