Loads of Learned Lumber

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Carmelo Cunchillos Jaime, ed., _Wyndham Lewis the Radical: Essays on Literature and Modernity_

ANOTHER COLLECTION OF essays on Lewis, this one from six years ago. The editor and five of the contributors are (or were) associated with the University of La Riocha in Spain, which must be the nerve center of Lewis scholarship in Spain--although, to be honest, some of these contributors seem to be using the occasion of writing on Lewis to write about something they apparently care about rather more: aesthetics of short fiction, Evelyn Waugh, Jeanette Winterson.

The Winterson piece addresses the question of why Winterson often mentions canonical modernists Eliot, Joyce, and Woolf, but never Lewis.  You were wondering about this yourself, no?  Don't deny it. I expect the author's answer to this question will prove definitive.

Prof. Cunchillos has lined up not only a good number of his colleagues, however, but also some of the heavy hitters of Lewis scholarship--Edwards, Munton, Caracciola--who, once again, deliver the goods. To cavil, I was hoping that Edwards's chapter on Lewis and Augustan satire would note the irony that two of Alexander Pope's greatest advocates in the 1920s, Edith Sitwell and Lytton Strachey, happened to be Lewis's particular bêtes noires, and also hoping that Munton would not feel the need to take a few more swipes at Fredric Jameson's book...but nonetheless, as usual, you can't get through a page of their contributions without learning something new about Lewis.

Were a prize for the volume mine to give, though, I would probably give it to Stan Smith--not a frequent caller in Lewis precincts, but his chapter on Lewis, Auden, and the Auden group shows extraordinary command of the relevant Lewis material as well as the superbly nuanced understanding of the period context one would expect from this particular scholar.

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