The Agon of Modernism: Wyndham Lewis's Allegories, Aesthetics, and Politics

The Agon of Modernism: Wyndham Lewis's Allegories, Aesthetics, and Politics

The Agon of Modernism: Wyndham Lewis's Allegories, Aesthetics, and Politics

The Agon of Modernism: Wyndham Lewis's Allegories, Aesthetics, and Politics

Synopsis

"This book is a detailed analysis of Wyndham Lewis's allegories, aesthetics, and politics that identifies him as a central figure of modernism. Modernism is defined as a movement caught between the avant-garde's radical rejection of the status quo and the awareness of tradition, be it philosophical, political, religious, or artistic. The tension between radicalism and tradition causes modernist texts to be self-contradictory." "Lewis's political writings present ambiguities: his stated belief in the autonomy of art from life is contradicted by other statements he made and by his critical analyses of writers; and his political writings blur any a priori generic distinction between art and non-art. Given this blurring between art and life, artistic genre and non-artistic genre, Quema claims that Lewis's political texts present characteristics usually attributed to avant-gardism. However, this radicalism has to be balanced against Lewis's conservatism. Thus his political writings can be read as allegories with two pragmatic aims: to organize the life of the polis from an artistic standpoint and to persuade the reader to adhere to authoritarian politics." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

My encounter with modernist literature occurred twenty years ago and had the metropolis of London and the mountains of Savoy for background. Since then a number of persons have encouraged me to pursue my passion for books and art. I would like to thank them here for their direct or indirect contribution: the late Bernard Lafourcade as well as Judith Bates of the Université de Savoie; John Healy, Ian Cameron, Ray Morrison, Roger Mesley, and Francisco Loriggio of Carleton University; Paul O’Keeffe as editor of Enemy News; Paul Edwards of the Wyndham Lewis Annual; Bernard Bergonzi; David Trotter of University College London; and the perceptive reader for Bucknell University Press.

I also wish to thank the British Library for its assistance, as well as the staff members of the Libraries at Royal Holloway College and at Carleton University for their warmth and support.

On the technical side, Norma Rankin was of enormous help at previous stages of manuscript preparation.

Finally, the writing of this book would have been impossible, had Paule Quéma and Danièle Gréverie not stepped in at crucial babysitting times. I dedicate this book to my husband James M. Thompson whose love, knowledge, and unflagging support saw me through all these years.

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