The Apes of God: Time to Re-Read this Beastly Book in 2017!



In this absurd sociopolitical climate we live and breathe in everyday here in the States, choking from the befouled air so malodorous with corruption that we must don our imported WWI gas masks in order to salvage and breathe whatever decaying virtues, untouched by Trump's toxicity, we might have left to inhale.  Oh this fetid defilement where we've been bait-and-switched the stench of carrion flowers for the promised roses.  Who are the apes of god today?  Where, oh where, is a writer hated by everyone like Wyndham Lewis when we need him right now? 

My copy, 4th pr. (1997), Black Sparrow Press
Perhaps you don't know Wyndham Lewis' writing? Know that he was a sharp-angled Enemy of the Establishment in Politics and especially the Arts. His august, adversarial gaze alone, melted the grease for the dilettantes he sautéed every day for breakfast and hors d'oeuvres.  His intense countenance was the austere art of Excoriation Incarnate.  The Bloomsbury Group, for instance, experienced many lovely and fruitful blossoms for a time ... until Wyndham Lewis (who'd collected himself a few ezra pounds over the years) made them all wilt.

'Between 1926 and 1930, Wyndham Lewis pub-lished eight books* ... The Apes of God formed an appro-priate and controversial climax to the series ... Though much praised at the time of publication ... these books are now excluded from the canon of writings that critics of modern literature have established as important or "major".




'This exclusion is, I think, mistaken, but as Frederic Jameson has pointed out in his book on Lewis, Fables of Aggression: Wyndham Lewis, The Modernist as Fascist ... its consequences can be seen as fortunate. For the text's of Lewis' great contemporaries have lost much of their revolutionary freshness by being canonized and assimilated to the institutional world of academic discourse. By contrast, when we read Wyndham Lewis, we "come upon a modernism still extant and breathing, an archaic survival, like the antediluvian creatures of Conan Doyle's Lost World hidden away within a forgotten fold of the earth's surface". In reading Lewis, we can, says Jameson, "once more sense that freshness and virulence of modernizing stylization less and less accessible in the faded texts of his contemporaries." 
Paul Edwards, 1981, from afterword to the Black Sparrow Press edition of The Apes of God. 
Won't anyone, beyond yours truly, consider reading a book by (or about) Wyndham Lewis, in 2017?

 "Between 1926 & 1930 Wyndham Lewis published eight books"
  1. The Art of Being Ruled (essays, 1926) 
  2. The Wild Body: A Soldier of Humour and Other Stories (1927)
  3. The Lion and the Fox: The Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare (essays, 1927)
  4. Time and Western Man (philosophy, 1927)
  5. The Childermass (novel, 1928)
  6. Paleface: The Philosophy of the "Melting Pot" (essays, 1929)
  7. Satire and Fiction: Preceded by the History of a Rejected Review (literary criticism, 1929) 
  8. The Apes of God (novel, 1930).

  

Comments

  1. I've read Tarr and do intend some further reading. Perhaps The Apes of God will be the one.

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  2. I've still not gotten around to Tarr! Need to remedy that. In fact, I don't even own it. Other than Apes, I've read The Vulgar Streak and The Childermass, and some portions of Journey Into Barbary and Men Without Art, which is hysterical literary criticism. He got under Hemingway's skin something good. He was brutal toward, but so apropos (I believe anyway) toward Papa's prose. So erudite and humourously snide, Wyndham Lewis. Gore Vidal and Lewis strike me as similar type commentators on the arts and culture.

    If you did want to read Apes sometime in 2017, why not let's read it together? I've put the word out in a group I'm in over on LibraryThing, and there've been a lot of "maybes" and one confirmed "let's do it". I could send you an invite to the group (assuming you felt like going to the trouble of opening an account there, on LibraryThing) or we could just do it here at some point, maybe blog about it back and forth? Maybe create an "Apes of God" blog?

    And no worries whatsoever if you were just thinking aloud, and can't commit to it. My shaky plan at the moment would be to start June 1st, only because my work slows down as summer arrives.

    Let me know what you think, Séamus. Take care. . . .



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  3. June sounds doable. Plenty of time to get my hands on the book and rediscover my blogging mojo... I may also see if I opened an account on Librarything at some stage. I was thinking about it.

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