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Brendan_Wallace "Brendan" (Glasgow, Scotland)

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Tarr
Tarr
by Wyndham Lewis
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curate's Egg, 1 Sep 2005
This review is from: Tarr (Paperback)
The problem with Tarr as a novel (it seems to me) is that it is split in half (thematically). Lewis himself seems to have recognised this when he remarked many years later that the novel should really have been called "Kreisler".
The problem is this. "Tarr" (i.e. the character Tarr) is supposed to be the foil to Kreisler, the sensible, 'neo-classical' counterweight to the hysterical, 'neo-romantic' Kreisler. But Tarr (again, the character) is a dreadful bore. The first two chapters of the novel are tedious as Tarr spouts his (not terribly interesting) theories about art and life, and the book only springs to life when Kreisler appears.
Kreisler himself is a fascinating character: a Nietzschean proto-fascist, he is a hysterical thug, rapist and murderer: a failed artist turned killer (and Kreisler of course came to life many years later in the guise of Adolf Hitler). But Lewis was clearly more interested in characters than this than he was in the 'neo-classical' poise of the characters that were supposed to oppose him. The sad conclusion to this internal war was when Lewis ended up supporting the real Adolf Hitler, always telling himself (and others) that Hitler was a man of peace (i.e. a neo-classicist, just like Lewis himself wanted to be, if it were not for his Romantic impulses forever getting the better of him).
So the novel, overall, is a failure. However, it remains interesting in three main respects: first as one of the few authentic records of a Bohemian world that has now completely vanished (pre-world war 1 Paris), second, as an authentic High Modernist masterpiece (in terms of its experimentation with language and form), and third as a precursor of Lewis's later themes and obsessions.


The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation
The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation
by Professor John M. Hobson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 26.99

16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent challenge to eurocentric history, 25 Jan 2005
This is a GREAT and in some ways lifechanging book. Hobson shows that (to coin a phrase) everything (more or less) we know in the West is...well...wrong. To take some examples at random: the 'dark ages' weren't dark (they were the glory days of Western (Muslim) civilisation). Globalisation isn't new (it has its origins in trading networks dating back to 3500BC or even earlier, and a truly global world trading system was operational by 500 AD). Capitalism was not a Western invention (China was fully capitalist by the 11th/12 century AD). Neither was industrialisation or mass production. Most of the discoveries we take for granted as being 'Western' were either invented in the East, or were developed in the West from Eastern prototypes. Stupendously patronising nonsense in the West about how 'Islam' needs to go through a 'reformation' ignores the fact that Islamic thinkers in the 10th and 11th centuries were already discussing ideas that read like obvious precursors of Martin Luther. The fact is, that for all our 'reformations' and 'enlightenments' and 'renaissances', from the fall of the Roman Empire until about 1830-1840, Europe was an insignificant backwater, of no real interest to anybody in the civilised world: and by civilised i mean North Africa, China, the Middle East. It is only incredibly recently that Europe has raced ahead of the East, mainly as a result of our astonishing capacity for violence and aggression and our vicious racism. We then created a myth, the myth of Western superiority, with a wholesale rewriting of history that would have made George Orwell's head spin. The current rise of new economic superpowers like China, Japan and India are in no way a new phenomenon. On the contrary: this is merely a return to the mainstream of world history (after the aberrant 'blip' of Western hegemony). Countries like India and China are making up for the horrors inflicted upon them by Westerners who conquered and then pillaged their countries. Now that they have kicked the British out, these countries are now returning to the economic status they had before we invaded.
In short, a necessary corrective to Western triumphalism and a necessary context to current Western fun and games in Iraq.


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