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Wyndham Lewis
Vladimir Nabokov
Lewis: Vulgar Streak
“the most fascinating personality of our time...
the most distinguished living novelist” — T. S. Eliot
“the only English writer, who can be compared to
Dostoevsky” — Ezra Pound
Wyndham Lewis:
Vulgar Streak
Afterword by Paul Edwards
Illustrations by Wyndham Lewis
click image
for large view
“We live under a great shadow today. A Last Judgement
like sort of a thing. Like a coming eclipse. An unhealthy condition of course. War is only another shadow... It might be the best thing for all of us. ...This is not a ‘time’ at all. It is merely a gap.”
The uncertain ‘terra firma’ of dictator-ridden pre-War Europe is the ground on which Wyndham Lewis places this tragic novel about the counterfeit life of the Modern Age. Its suave and self-sufficient hero, Vincent Penhale, speaker of the above words, is a self-styled assassin of the British social structure, who attempts to break out of the stifling straight-jacket of “class” by passing himself off as a gentleman. Playing the part expertly, he woos and wins the genteel, graceful April Mallow; their whirlwind love affair is staged amid the gondolas and palaces of Venice in September, 1938 with the Munich Conference and the crumbling of free Europe as ominous backdrop.

But the “coarse streak... a vulgar exhibitionism... a primitiveness” detected in him by his upper-class companion Martin Penny-Smythe eventually proves to be Penhale’s downfall. Back in London, he’s arrested for his involvement in murder, which leads to the revelation that he’s been living for several years by passing counterfeit money. He concurs with the estimate of a psychiatrist who compares him with Hitler and Mussolini as a man suffering “to a morbid degree from an excess of Will.”

Laden with ironic commentary on modern history and the English social system, The Vulgar Streak (first published 1941) is a dark, gripping, swift-moving novel of ideas.

274 pages, Cloth Trade, 6 1/2'' x 9 1/2'' (160 x 240 mm)
5 b/w illustrations, English
ISBN-13: 978-0-87685-629-1  
ISBN-10: 0-87685-629-6      $ 25.00
About the Editor:
Paul Edwards was born in Colchester, England, in 1950. He attended Cambridge University, and later studied the work of Wyndham Lewis at the universities of Birming­ham and London. He has been the editor of Enemy News, the Journal of the Wyndham Lewis Society.
Mr. Edwards lives in Cambridge, Eng­land. He is a senior lecturer in Eng­lish at Bath Spa University College.
Book design by Barbara Martin
About the Author:
Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957)
Percy Wyndham Lewis
(1882-1957) was a novelist, painter, es­say­ist, poet, critic, polemicist and one of the truly dynamic forces in literature and art in the twentieth century. He was the founder of Vorticism, the only original movement in 20th century English painting.
He is the author of Tarr (1918), The Lion and the Fox (1927), Time and Western Man (1927, 1993), The Apes of God (1930), The Revenge for Love (1937), and Self Condemned (1954).
Wyndham Lewis was ranked highly by his important contemporaries.
See also:

Volcanic Heaven: Essays on Wyndham Lewis’s Painting & Writing
Volcanic Heaven: Essays
“An explosive force” is what Lewis required the artist to be. In his 1937 autobiography Blasting and Bom­bardier­ing he recalled the shock­waves stirred by the impact of BLAST upon an unsuspecting culture: But a bomb explodes only once, while a volcano keeps erupting. more...
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