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In Fundamental Agreement: Yeats and Wyndham Lewis

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Abstract

TWO MEN COULD HARDLY BE MORE DIFFERENT in style and ethos than Wyndham Lewis and W. B. Yeats. Yeats’s feudalistic Irish Nationalism, mysticism and eccentric historicism are the antithesis of the younger painter-writer’s cosmopolitan internationalism, anti-historicism and mechano-morphic vision of humanity. On closer inspection, Yeats and Lewis prove to have a surprising amount in common. The cultural vision of both extended way beyond Europe and they shared the view that a willed struggle with a contradictory version of the self was the basis of achievement in the arts. Each valued his apparent opposite at crucial moments. When Yeats was studying philosophy in the years following publication of the first version of A Vision, he suggested that the editor of The Enemy should read Plato’s Theaetetus—advice that Lewis apparently took.1 Yeats, in his turn, learnt from Lewis. Time and Western Man was one of the volumes the poet ‘defied the doctors’ by reading: ‘Tell Wyndham Lewis … that I am in all essentials his most humble and admiring disciple’, Yeats wrote to Olivia Shakespear in December 1927 (L 733–4).

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  • Phenomenal World
  • Conscious Mind
  • General Strike
  • Spirit World
  • Late Twenty

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Notes

  1. Wyndham Lewis, Time and Western Man (1927), ed. Paul Edwards (Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1993), p. 284, hereafter TWM. Yeats’s marginalia to Time and Western Man and markings, turned-down pages, etc. suggest that he read Lewis’s text with care (YL 157). Roger Parisious has found further pages which show evidence of Yeats’s attentions. We are grateful to him for sharing the results of his research with us. See nn. 42 & 61.

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  2. TWM 37–42, 67–72. On Yeats’s misgivings, see Warwick Gould, ‘The Unknown Masterpiece: Yeats and the Design of the Cantos’ in Andrew Gibson (ed.), Pound in Multiple Perspective: A Collection of Critical Essays (London: The Macmillan Press, 1993), pp. 40–92.

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  3. Ezra Pound, ‘Vorticism’ (1914), Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir (New York: New Directions, 1970), p. 87. (Pound’s ellipsis.)

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  4. Wyndham Lewis, ‘A Review of Contemporary Art’ (1915), rpt. Wyndham Lewis on Art, ed. C. J. Fox and Walter Michel (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1969), p. 63.

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  5. ‘Mr Lewis stands, in a paradoxically high-pitched and excited way, for common sense …’ F. R. Leavis, ‘Mr Eliot, Mr Wyndham Lewis and Lawrence’ (1934), The Common Pursuit (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966), p. 243.

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  6. Interview by ‘M. M. B.’, Daily News and Leader (7 April 1914), quoted in Richard Cork, Art beyond the Gallery in Early Twentieth Century England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1985), p. 184. Lewis went on to suggest an analogy between Cubism and Chinese Geomancy, which he followed up in ‘Fêng Shui and Contemporary Form’ in Blast 1 (June 1914), rpt. Wyndham Lewis on Art, pp. 41–2.

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  7. ‘The Credentials of the Painter’ (1919) rpt. in Wyndham Lewis, Creatures of Habit and Creatures of Change: Essays on Art, Literature and Society 1913–1956, ed. Paul Edwards (Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1989), p. 76. This seems to be a more considered expression of Lewis’s mature opinion than the slightly uncritical endorsement of spiritualism in the 1914 Daily News and Leader interview quoted above, and the strong reaction against spiritualism evident in his 1915 criticisms of Kandinsky: ‘Kandinsky’s spiritual values … seem to be undesirable, even if feasible: just as, although believing in the existence of the supernatural, you may regard it as redundant and nothing to do with life’ (‘A Review of Contemporary Art’, p. 72). Lewis’s image, in the 1919 essay, of art as a ‘coin’, may well be a recollection of the coin demanded by Charon for ferrying souls from this world to the next. For both Yeats and Lewis, art is one of the most important vehicles available for effecting such a crossing.

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  8. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), ed. E. C. Mossner (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969), p. 316.

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  9. Ezra Pound, ‘Canto XCIV’, Section: Rock-Drill (1955), rpt. The Cantos (London: Faber and Faber, 1964), p. 673. There is another way that ‘Justice’ emerges in the Cantos, through a ‘masculine’ direction of the will, cutting through to clean values. Likewise, despite Pound’s desire for an immediate language (manifested in his fondness for ideograms, hieroglyphs and pictograms), mind has already saturated his gists, piths and fragments with concepts. To take these two points in turn (and leaving aside the nature of the ‘clean values’ or ‘Justice’ the Cantos establish): in Pound’s work the direction of the will is registered all too often, as, (in Yeats’s words) a ‘nervous obsession … raging at malignants’ (OBMV xxv). This assertiveness alternates with the rather voulu ‘natural’ revelations (or with such ineffective syntheses of the two as ‘From ploughing of fields is justice’; ‘Canto C’, The Cantos, p. 743); secondly, as Yeats has it in his summary of Wyndham Lewis’s quasi-Kantian argument from ‘God as Reality’ (AVB 4n.); see TWM 377, quoted below), all rejections of the forms and categories of the intellect ‘stop at the conscious mind’, which can only function because of such categories in the first place. Since all valuations of nature are possible only in relation to a conscious mind, why attempt an impossible elimination of many of the mind’s shaping capacities? The answer to this would tell us a lot about Pound—not all of it to his detriment.

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  10. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Complete Works, ed. Oscar Levy, vol. X, The Joyful Wisdom (‘La Gaya Scienza’) tr. Thomas Common (London: T. N. Foulis, 1910), sect. 354, p. 298.

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  11. Yeats allowed a letter to Lewis praising The Childermass to be used in publicity for the American edition (see Wyndham Lewis, The Letters of Wyndham Lewis, ed. W. K. Rose [London: Methuen, 1963], pp. 182–3) and another praising The Apes of God to appear in Lewis’s Satire and Fiction (London: The Arthur Press, 1930), p. 29.

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  12. In ‘Mr Zagreus and The Split-Man’, one of a pair of forerunners to The Apes of God published during the early Twenties in The Criterion, Zagreus refers to a character named Joint whose role seems to anticipate that of Pierpoint in the novel (Wyndham Lewis, ‘Mr Zagreus and the Split-Man’, The Criterion, II:6 [February 1924], 140). Joint is the eponymous hero of an unfinished satirical narrative dating from this period; sections of this manuscript were edited by Hugh Kenner and published as ‘from Joint’, Agenda (Wyndham Lewis Special Issue), VII:3—VIII:1 (Autumn-Winter 1969–70), pp. 198–208. Significantly, among these fragments is ‘The Infernal Fair’ (a dream episode containing elements of the Dialogue of the Dead, that ancient subgenre of Menippian satura), for in Blasting and Bombardiering (1937) Lewis himself identified ‘Joint’ as one of the sources of The Childermass (1967 Calder edition pp 230–1, see also Peter L. Caracciolo, ‘Byzantium and Cosmic Man’, Wyndham Lewis Annual 2 (1995), p. 24, and ‘The Metamorphoses of Wyndham Lewis’s The Human Age; Medium, Intertextuality, Genre’ in Ian Willison, Warwick Gould, Warren Chernaik (eds.) Modernist Writers and the Marketplace (London: Macmillan, 1996), pp. 258–286, esp. pp. 264–5.

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  13. The ‘metaphysical’ dimensions of The Childermass (as well as its eventual sequels) and The Apes of God are illuminated by Lewis’s response to the Great War; the Platonism revealed in these reactions verges on the Manichean. In this fiction the Calvinistic determinism of which Lewis sought to exculpate God resurfaces as the weapon of another Power. See the 1937 memoir Blasting and Bombardiering (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1937), pp. 170–7, 193; see Peter L. Caracciolo, ‘“Carnivals of Mass-Murder”: The Frazerian Origins of Wyndham Lewis’s The Childermass’ in Robert Fraser (ed.), Sir James Frazer and the Literary Imagination: Essays in Affinity and Influence (London: Macmillan, 1990), pp. 207–231, esp. p. 215; ‘Like a Mexith’s renowned statue bristling with emblems’: Masquerade, Anthropology, Yeats and Pound among Wyndham Lewis’s Apes of God’ in Andrew Gibson (ed.) Pound in Multiple Perspective, p. 138; ‘Byzantium and Cosmic Man’ esp. pp. 26–7. Enlightening on The Human Age is Michael Nath, ‘“Monstrous Starlight”: Wyndham Lewis and Gnosticism’, in Paul Edwards, ed., Volcanic Heaven: Essays on Wyndham Lewiss Painting and Writing (Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1996), pp. 149–67; for a more general commentary see Daniel Schenker, Wyndham Lewis: Religion and Modernism (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1992).

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  14. Cf. T. S. Eliot’s ‘Ulysses, Order and Myth’, The Dial, 75 (Nov 1923).

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  15. Walter Michel, Wyndham Lewis: Paintings and Drawings (London: Thames and Hudson, 1971), nos M 617–19. All references to Lewis’s visual work will be to Michel’s catalogue; works with numbers preceded by ‘M’ are on paper, and those with numbers preceded by ‘M P’ are oil paintings. For colour reproductions of these images (plates 23–5) and an account of the circumstances of their composition, see Richard Cork, Wyndham Lewis 1882–1957: The Twenties (exhibition catalogue, London: Anthony d’Offay, 1984), n.p.

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  16. LE 47–73, and originally published as an epilogue to Lady Gregory, Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland, Collected by Lady Gregory: With Two Essays and Notes by W. B. Yeats (1920).

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  17. See Peter L. Caracciolo, ‘Byzantium and Cosmic Man’, pp. 23–29 for an exploration of the parallels between Lewis’s work and Yeats’s essay, which are too numerous to be coincidental—it was actually Yeats’s own description of the region of the dead (supplemented with others) that Lewis’s imagination had brought to such vivid life. Note also E. W. F. Tomlin’s comment, ‘This is the hallucinatory world of Yeats’s Byzantium and of … Eliot’s Waste Land’, Wyndham Lewis (London: Longmans, 1955), p. 28. Annotating ‘Byzantium’, Jeffares (YP 601) explicates ‘Hades’ bobbin’ as ‘probably taken from the spindle in Plato’s myth of Er (The Republic, 820)’. Lewis draws upon the same Platonic vision of divine judgement in The Childermass (see ‘Carnivals of Mass-Murder’).

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  18. Gladys Anne Wyndham Lewis to Hugh Anson Cartwright (n.d.; we are grateful to C. J. Fox for providing this quotation), and Jeffrey Meyers, The Enemy: A Biography of Wyndham Lewis (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), p. 157. The drawings that Yeats saw are lost. They may have been bought by Lewis’s publisher, C. H. Prentice, according to Mrs Lewis. Lewis invited Prentice to see them in 1930: ‘I have a number of pictures (some of a tower, a special set) … I should like to show them to you …’ (Lewis to Prentice, 14 October 1930, Letters, p. 196).

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  19. On Yeats’s and Lewis’s interest in The Thousand and One Nights, also see respectively Warwick Gould, ‘A Lesson for the Circumspect: W. B. Yeats’s two Versions of A Vision and The Arabian Nights’ and the editor’s ‘Introduction’ in ‘The Arabian Nightsin English Literature, ed. Peter L. Caracciolo (London: Macmillan, 1988), pp. 42, 43, 47, 56, 244–73.

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  20. Wyndham Lewis, The Caliphs Design: Architects! Where is your Vortex? ed. Paul Edwards (Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1986), p. 20.

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  21. W. J. Perry, The Children of the Sun: A Study in the Early Hstory of Civilization (London: Methuen, 1923), p. 130. A heavily annotated copy of Perry’s The Growth of Civilization (1924), once owned by the painter-novelist and now in the HRHRC, Austin, indicates how closely Lewis scrutinised this anthropologist’s theories during the period in which he was composing the first version of ‘Mr Zagreus and the Split-Man’; for Perry’s influence on The Apes of God see ‘Like a Mexith’s Renowned Statue’ esp. pp. 144–5, 155, n. 61.

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  22. For a discussion of Lewis’s paintings of the thirties in these terms, see Paul Edwards, ‘“It’s Time for another War”: The Historical Unconscious and the Failure of Modernism’, in David Peters Corbett, ed., Wyndham Lewis and the Subject of Modern War (Cambridge: C. U. P., 1997).

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  23. In Walter Michel, Wyndham Lewis, p. 26. Note the relation of this picture to M 626 (1927), the title of which translates as ‘immortal, therefore the soul’) and another drawing with the same title, not in Michel (c.1933), reproduced as No. 123 in Jane Farrington, Wyndham Lewis (London: Lund Humphries & Manchester Art Galleries, 1980) and (in colour) as Pl. 10 in Seamus Cooney, ed., Blast 3 (Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1984).

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  24. Neither Yeats nor Lewis ever visited Constantinople or Greece, but both visited areas of Italy influenced by Byzantium e.g., Venice, Ravenna, Sicily and Rome. Both studied in the British Museum where O. M. Dalton built up a fine Byzantine collection: his Byzantine Art and Archaeology (1911; YL 461) and Eastern Christian Art (1925) are well known. See NC 211 & ff. for a compendium of references on Yeats’s scholarly sources on Byzantium. Commenting on his exhibits in the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition (5 October 1912–31 January 1913), particularly Creation (M 46, 1912) and Mother and Child (M P6, 1912), the Athenaeums reviewer (who may have talked with Lewis) observes that these pictures are ‘detached… mathematical… powerfully fantastic.… We can imagine the arabesques of the Book of Kells sharing with Egyptian sculpture the parentage of such pictures’ (Athenaeum, 12 Oct. 1912, p. 422). ‘The closest parallel [to Lewis’s Mother and Child] is with Boris Anrep’s contemporaneous description of the Russian icon as a nationalist resource for Goncharova’s saints’, notes Lisa Tickner in her ‘A Lost Lewis: The Mother and Child of 1912’, Wyndham Lewis Annual, II (1995), 5, 2. A drawing of the same year, Russian Madonna or Russian Scene (M 83, 1912) shows Lewis’s knowledge of Russian icons. The Yeats circle too became intimate with the arts of more than just the Orthodox and Ancient Irish Churches. Pl. 9–10 in YA4 demonstrate how Sturge Moore’s cover for Responsibilities and Other Poems (1916) derives from a design which was based on a page from an early 7th century copy of the Latin Gospels that ‘resembles the Lindisfarne Gospels’; serpentine ornaments reminiscent of spiral motifs in the Book of Kells may be seen. See also TSMC 30–6, 48. Stories of Red Hanrahan and The Secret Rose, illustrated and decorated by Norah McGuinness (London: Macmillan, 1927) shows Yeats’s absorption in Byzantine mosaic and old Irish art: see L 738 and VSR 271–86 & pl. 9–37. Such syncretism was not unique at this time: Art O’Murnaghan’s The Book of Resurrection (1922) unites Celtic art and eastern mysticism (see The Rediscovery of Irelands Past: The Celtic Revival 1830–1890 [Thames and Hudson, 1980], p. 120 and plates xxi–xxii). In a postcard to A. H. Fisher (11 July 1931), Sturge Moore took a purist view of the Byzantine exhibition in Paris in 1931 (Sturge Moore papers, London University Library); whereas Yeats’s spiritualist interests had led in the previous year to The Resurrections enthralling synthesis of Buddhist Noh drama and mediæval mystery plays. See also D. J. Gordon, W. B. Yeats: Images of a Poet (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1961), p. 81. There is a distinct ‘family resemblance’ between the profile stuck on its pole in ATHANATON and the stylised zoomorphs of the old Irish illuminated manuscripts, though it also recalls an Easter Island statuette in the British Museum. See Leonhard Adam, Primitive Art (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1940), pl. 41; also Malcolm Mcleod and John Mack, Ethnic Sculpture (London: British Museum, 1985), p. 48.

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  25. In TWM, Lewis refers to Spengler’s historically valid claim that ‘the greek statue … came to life in Byzantium or Alexandria by receiving soulful eyes that “entered into” the onlooker’ (p. 269). Roger Nyle Parisious informs us that the equivalent page in Yeats’s copy of Lewis’s book (p. 287) shows signs of the reader’s close attention here. Yeats had already singled out Spengler’s reference to the drilled pupils of eyes in Roman statues as evidence of the similarity between his own and Spengler’s theories of cyclical history (see TSMC 105). Compare also ‘the sparkling eye’ which Lewis sees as similarly transforming Ancient Egyptian art in The Diabolical Principle and the Dithyrambic Spectator (London: Chatto and Windus, 1931, p. 182). In Lewis’s exposition of his theory of the comic, ‘The Meaning of the Wild Body’, it is the eye of a fat man running that indicates his detachment from his absurd and clumsy body, and shows that he is a person, not merely a thing (1927; rpt. Wyndham Lewis, The Complete Wild Body, ed. Bernard Lafourcade [Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1982], pp. 159–60). The presence of eyes in ATHANATON associates the image not only with ‘Byzantium’, but also with Yeats’s ‘drilled pupil of the eye [in a Byzantine] ivory [which gives] to Saint or Angel a look of some great bird staring at miracle’ (CVA 191–92). The ghostly presence in Lewis’s picture seems to anticipate ‘A Bronze Head’: ‘Human, superhuman, a bird’s round eye, | Everything else withered and mummy-dead. | What great tomb-haunter sweeps the distant sky …?’ (VP 618).

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  26. Born in Canada, of partly native American (Huron) stock, or so the family gossip went, and with his long-standing interest in Cave art, Polar and Steppe culture, Lewis was, as might be expected, drawn to the so-called ‘X-ray’ style (developed by the early hunters) in which the animal’s internal organs were displayed. Originating ‘in the prehistoric rock pictures … in Scandinavia and Siberia, the X-ray style has continued in use as late as this century in the ornamental art of native Siberian hunters … and in America among the Eskimos and Indians of the North-West.… The magic rites which are practised among the Ojibwa (Chippewa) people of the northern U.S.A. and Canada include the drawing of images ‘in the X-ray style’, and can still be observed.… The same tendency towards abstraction … already noticed in the Siberian rock pictures can be followed in X-ray images found in India, Malaya and western New Guinea, [Australia].’ Andreas Lommel, Landmarks of the Worlds Art: Prehistoric and Primitive Man (London: Paul Hamlyn, 1966), pp. 71–2. A succession of books on this subject appeared in the late twenties: Franz Boas, Primitive Art (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1927), G. Boroffka, Scythian Art (1928) and Mikhail Rostovtzeff, The Animal Style in South Russia and China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1929). Sturge Moore’s use of the X-ray style most probably derives from Lewis’s example.

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  27. As his lecture-notes, quoted on page check, confirm. See Wyndham Lewis, America and Cosmic Man (London: Nicholson and Watson, 1948), Chapter 20 (the introduction to Part Two, in which Lewis discusses his hope for a renewed global civilization). Lewis’s thirteen-paragraph chapter seems to acknowledge Yeats’s eloquent experiment with the sonnet and sequence forms in ‘The Second Coming’. See the discussion in ‘Byzantium and Cosmic Man’, p. 28.

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  28. See Walter Michel, Wyndham Lewis, ch. 6, and Robert Stacey, ‘“Magical Prescences in a Magical Place”: From Homage to Etty to The Island’, in Catherine Mastin, Robert Stacey and Thomas Dilworth, ‘The Talented Intruder’: Wyndham Lewis in Canada, 1939–1945 (Catalogue of exhibition; Windsor, Ontario: Art Gallery of Windsor, 1993), pp. 107–54. In his discussion of The Island (M P104, 1942), Lewis’s major imaginative oil of the forties, Stacey discusses suggestions that the island depicted is modelled on Böcklin’s Die Toteninsel.

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  29. Wyndham Lewis, The Human Age: Book 2, Monstre Gai; Book 3, Malign Fiesta (London: Methuen, 1955), pp. 370–3.

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  30. Lewis attacks Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926)

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  31. and the Abbé Brémond’s La Poésie pure (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1926) in TWM.

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  32. See the chapter, ‘Nietzsche as a Vulgariser’ in Wyndham Lewis, The Art of Being Ruled (1926) rpt., ed. Reed Way Dasenbrock (Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1989).

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  33. Wyndham Lewis, The Lion and the Fox: The Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare (London: Grant Richards, 1927; YL 1123).

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  34. On Eliot’s long-standing and complex debts to Buddhism see: T. S. Eliot, ‘The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism’ (1933) in Selected Prose, ed. F. Kermode (London: Faber, 1975), p. 83;

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  35. Stephen Spender, Eliot (London:Fontana, 1975), pp. 26–7;

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  36. P. S. Sri, T. S. Eliot: Vedanta and Buddhism (Vancouver: Vancouver University Press, 1985); P. L. Caracciolo, ‘Buddhist Typologies in [the Marlow Cycle] and their contribution to the Modernism of Jacob Epstein, Wyndham Lewis and T. S. Eliot’ in Conradian XIII (1988), pp. 67–91. T. S. Eliot’s work, until it sought the backing of theology, constituted a continuous judgement by the Absolute upon itself.

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  37. Wyndham Lewis, One-Way Song (1933), rpt. Collected Poems and Plays, ed. Alan Munton (Manchester: Carcanet, 1979), p. 58.

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  38. For a discussion of this aspect of Lewis’s work, see Peter Nicholls, Modernisms: A Literary Guide (London: Macmillan, 1995), pp. 182–87.

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  39. TWM 75. For a perceptive discussion of Lewis’s analysis of the interaction of Modernism and nationalism in an Irish context, see Emer Nolan, James Joyce and Nationalism (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 11–13.

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  40. See, however, Scott W. Klein, The Fictions of James Joyce and Wyndham Lewis: Monsters of Nature and Design (Cambridge: C. U. P., 1994), pp. 139–143, for a discussion of the way The Apes of God lays bare both the futile nationalist rivalries and the hollow claims of a central Britishness inherent in the cultural politics of the period in Great Britain.

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  41. Wyndham Lewis, The Human Age: Book 2, Monstre Gai: Book 3, Malign Fiesta (London: Methuen 1955) and The Human Age: Book 1, Childermass (London: Methuen, 1956). See D. G. Bridson, ‘The Making of “The Human Age”’, Agenda (Wyndham Lewis Special Issue), pp. 163–71. See also ‘The Metamorphoses of The Human Age’, pp. 258–86.

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  42. Wyndham Lewis, Malign Fiesta (London: Calder and Boyars, 1966), pp. 218–19.

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  43. For a discussion of their apocalyptic, specifically Joachimist dimension, see Marjorie Reeves and Warwick Gould, Joachim of Fiore and the Myth of the Eternal Evangel in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987), pp. 250–61).

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  44. Philip C. Almond, The British Discovery of Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 102–110.

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  45. Horace H. Wilson, ‘On Buddhaa and Buddhism’, The journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 16 (1856), pp. 229–65, esp. p. 256.

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  46. Mathew Gibson, ‘“What Empty Eyeballs Knew”: Zen Buddhism in “The Statues” and the Principles of A Vision’, (YA11 141–55). The affinities betweenthe relation of the Buddhist Wheel of Life to Nirvana and that of Yeats’s cycles to the Thirteenth Cone are compatible with the sources explored by Ron Heisler (sss infra, pp. check), since Mani recognized Buddha as a ‘revealer’. See Kurt Rudolf, Gnosis (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1983), p. 132.

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  47. ‘Ich hab’ Mein Sach auf Nichts gestellt’, the first line of Goethe’s poem, ‘Vanitas! Vanitatum vanitas!’ is the first heading and final sentence of Stirner’s influential Der Einzige und sein Eigentum, translated by S. T. Byington as The Ego and His Own (London: A. C. Fifield, 1912).

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  48. Most extensively in the 1935 novel (published 1937), The Revenge for Love, where the source of value, founded on a ‘nothing’ that recurs incessantly throughout the text, is Margot’s irrational attachment to a clowning Spanish dwarf/baby that claims her as its mother (a kinship she will not deny). See Paul Edwards, ‘Signifying Nothing: The Revenge for Love’, Enemy News, No. 15 (Winter 1982), p. 22.

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  49. There is no space here to consider Lewis’s treatment of Sartre and le néant in The Writer and the Absolute (London: Methuen, 1952), but, for illuminating surveys of the impact of ‘Nothing’ on modern thought and the arts, see Maurice Tuchman’s scholarly collection on The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890–1985 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1986) and George Steiner’s Real Presences: Is there Anything in What We Say? (London: Faber and Faber, 1989).

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  50. W. Lewis, The Red Priest (London: Methuen, 1956) pp. 107 and 109.

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  51. W. Lewis, The Demon of Progress in the Arts (London: Methuen, 1954), p. 32.

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  52. ‘I remained, beyond the usual period, congealed in a kind of cryptic immaturity. In my social relations the contacts remained, for long, primitive. I recognized dimly this obstruction: was conscious of gaucherie, of wooden responses—all fairly common symptoms, of course.’ Wyndham Lewis, Rude Assignment: A Narrative of my Career up-to-date (1950), rpt. as Rude Assignment: An Intellectual Autobiography, ed. Toby Foshay: Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1984), p. 126.

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Caracciolo, P.L., Edwards, P. (1998). In Fundamental Agreement: Yeats and Wyndham Lewis. In: Gould, W. (eds) Yeats Annual No. 13. Yeats Annual. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-14614-7_4

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