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Tarr Paperback – 12 Sep 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: TheClassics.us (12 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1230360239
  • ISBN-13: 978-1230360232
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 0.6 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,543,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

This is a valuable edition. (William Baker, Years Work in English Studies) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) was an artist, novelist, and critic. He was the leader of the Vorticist movement in art and, with Ezra Pound, edited the only two issues of Blast, the great manifesto of the modern art movement and one of the seminal texts of twentieth-century modernism. As well as Tarr, Lewis's novels include The Apes of God and The Revenge for Love. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Waddell on 1 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
Ever since Paul O'Keeffe published his edition of the 1918 version (Black Sparrow Press, 1996) of Wyndham Lewis's novel 'Tarr' the scholarly community has been in need of a scholarly edition of Lewis's 1928 rewrite of the same novel.

Scott Klein's edition for OUP's World's Classics series answers that demand in fine style. An extensive and illuminating editorial introduction frames what is a comprehensively annotated and explicated version of a text that to date has only been available as an unedited Penguin text (besides its original publication by Chatto and Windus).

Without doubt required reading for Lewis enthusiasts, but more importantly, as Klein suggests here, for general readers too. By reading one of Lewis's most experimental contributions to the novel form, new and old Lewisians alike necessarily will gain a greater understanding of the modernist novel as a whole.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Roland Hawken on 13 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As I mentioned in a previous review of Wyndham Lewis , it is a joy to own this book and I am glad I purchased it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert on 20 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A work of literary genius that I'm studying in my second year of University. The 3 star rating is in reference to the way the book was delivered to me... damaged and bent on both the front and back cover.

That said, Lewis could write!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of the best and most overlooked novels of the 20th century 11 Oct. 2012
By Nicholas Moses - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Tarr is a novel I enjoyed from start to finish. Written in the era of the polite avant-garde social activism exemplified by Bloomsbury, Lewis' most well-known novel is none of those things. It could logically be argued that Tarr is mean-spirited, but I prefer to think of it as a Nietzschean parody.

The titular character is an obvious stand-in for Lewis, being both intelligent, unique, and openly disdainful of the Parisian bohemians that surround him. A common complaint about the novel is that "nothing happens," and that isn't entirely wrong. Tarr is intelligent and charismatic, but he is simultaneously utterly ineffective. His flaw is the flaw of Hamlet - he is indecisive, non-committal, and under-motivated.
Tarr is more relevant now than ever. It is a commentary on the disillusion of the young bourgeois - the inevitable breakdown of segments of society after generations of materialism. It's also quite funny, easy to read, and occasionally rather vulgar. I recommend it.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A fine new edition of a pioneering novel 2 Oct. 2010
By Nathan Waddell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ever since Paul O'Keeffe published his edition of the 1918 version (Black Sparrow Press, 1996) of Wyndham Lewis's novel 'Tarr' the scholarly community has been in need of a scholarly edition of Lewis's 1928 rewrite of the same novel.

Scott Klein's edition for OUP's World's Classics series answers that demand in fine style. An extensive and illuminating editorial introduction frames what is a comprehensively annotated and explicated version of a text that to date has only been available as an unedited Penguin text (besides its original publication by Chatto and Windus).

Without doubt required reading for Lewis enthusiasts, but more importantly, as Klein suggests here, for general readers too. By reading one of Lewis's most experimental contributions to the novel form, new and old Lewisians alike necessarily will gain a greater understanding of the modernist novel as a whole.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Sex, death, art and life 27 Sept. 2014
By Steven Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tarr is an assertive and sometimes brutal novel exploring the relationships of Life, Art, Sex and Death. Ezra Pound called it “the most vigorous and volcanic English novel of our time.” T. S. Eliot said Wyndham Lewis showed “the thought of the modern and the energy of the cave-man.”

Lewis was equally a painter and a novelist. His scathing satires of the art world alienated him from his contemporaries, and his legacy has been tarnished by negative portrayals of Jews and homosexuals in his novels. As Scott W. Klein writes in his superb introduction: “Tarr still snarls, as though through the bars of a cage, challenging approach by adventurous readers only.”

There are two very different versions of Tarr. In 1916 Lewis enlisted in the Royal Artillery and was sent to the front. Wanting to leave a literary legacy in case of his death in battle, with the help of friends Lewis rushed his first novel into print while portions were still in draft form and described as “placeholders.” After the war, the author leisurely revised and expanded the novel, republishing it in 1928. The 1928 version, as published by Oxford World’s Classics, is the version reviewed here, but the 1916 version, because it is in the public domain, is the one more widely available.

The novel takes place chiefly in Paris circa 1910. There are four principal characters whose interactions and conversations form the basis of the simple plot. Frederick Sorbert Tarr, a young English painter, is Wyndham Lewis’s alter ego, though the author explains that while Tarr’s ideas are his own, the events of the story are not the least autobiographical. Tarr is a self-assured modernist, scornful of the ideas and styles of the past. He claims himself to be a new sort of entity, one in whom the “emotionality normally absorbed by sex is so strong that it claims a newer and more exclusive field of deployment. Its first creation is the Artist himself. That is a new sort of person; the creative man.”

The person on whom Tarr’s carefully rationed sexual energies are expended is Bertha Lunken, a pretty German art student and model. Tarr describes his girlfriend as “a bourgeois-bohemian” and “a high-grade aryan bitch, in good condition, superbly made; of the succulent, obedient, clear peasant type.” Tarr, clearly a misogynist, enjoys her body even as he ridicules her attachment to outmoded German Romanticism.

The novel’s most distinctive and entertaining character is another German, Otto Kreisler, a middle-aged man still living on his father’s meager allowance and debts he can’t repay as he moves from city to city to keep ahead of his creditors. Kreisler considers himself an artist and a gentleman, but is neither. His drunken antics and brazen effrontery are the source of the novel’s dark humor, and his attempts at being serious invariably turn into the absurd.

Lastly there is Anastasya Vasek, the “Modern Girl” whose combination of intellect and sexuality send Tarr into confusion and Kreisler on the path of self-destruction. Describing herself, she says “My parents are russian. I was born in Berlin and brought up in America. We live in Vienna… I am a typical Russian therefore.” The term Lewis uses for her disarming sexual openness is “swagger sex.”

As some of the quotations above suggest, Lewis preferred his own rules of capitalization and punctuation, and even invented a few words. He felt, for example, that capitalizing adjectives of nationality placed too much emphasis on a person’s birthplace. The text is also sprinkled with enough French and German phrases and cultural references to make the editor’s footnotes very welcome.

The meat of the novel is found in Tarr’s conversations and pronouncements on the relationship and distinction between art and life, the nature of the artist, the role of sex in the life of the artist and, most disturbingly, what Tarr calls the “tragic theme of existence,” that “pleasure could take no form that did not include death and corruption.” He insists to Anastasya that “Death is the thing that differentiates art and life.”

Tarr is a novel of ideas peppered with enough action and humor to keep it fresh and entertaining throughout. It requires a reader to look past some potentially offensive opinions and characterizations, but has some thought-provoking notions on the nature of art from a man who was at the center of the art world for half a century.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Tarr is a 20th century example of learned wit 30 May 2015
By David A. Burroughs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
5 Stars gets you Tristram Shandy, but Tarr is still pretty good. Unique observations and turns of phrase I find myself lingering over. Lewis had more influence over advertising and rock n'roll packaging than literature, but his talent is real.
23 of 83 people found the following review helpful
Pretentious and deliberately exasperating 2 Nov. 2005
By Shawn C. Standiford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book because an English major friend of mine said it was the most difficult book she ever read. I agree, but its difficulty lies not in any depth of thought or high artistic value; rather, this is an exhausting, dull read and I quickly grew to hate the characters and the author's writing style.

I read somewhere that it is a grave mistake to use foreign language phrases more than once or twice in an English language text. Perhaps it was in Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style". I wonder if they were speaking specifically of this book. On an average of once per page there is a German, Latin, or French phrase inserted in a dialogue or, even worse, the narration, and it isn't like these phrases are well known. The sole purpose of these, in my opinion, is to further obfuscate a work that is already so desperately trying to be well-known for it's complications.

As for the characters, I'm not asking that an author make any of their creations lovable, sympathetic, redeemable people. But the self absorption and self-importance of these pathetically deluded people was not only obviously contrived but ultimately served no real purpose.

Do yourself a favor. Avoid this book. If you want to read a writer that willfully but highly successfully buries the meaning of his writing under layers and layers of abstraction, pick up the works of Dylan Thomas and let the enigmatic beauties of his poems unlock themselves for you at the most inopportune times.
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