By Hugh Kenner
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It is a little misleading to talk about technique; like all Lewis's successes the Kreisler section of Tarr has a fortuitous air, though like his masterpiece The Revenge for Love --a sustained anomaly--it implies a weighty rather than a trivial fortuity. Though the whole is almost continually impressive, details look clumsy in quotation, and pages or paragraphs slipshod or repetitious. An occasional sen- -35- tence can be found that will illustrate the nervous force of the whole: The letter had been laid on the table, by the side of which stood the large gas-stove, like a safe, its gas stars, on top, blasting away luridly at pans and saucepans with Bertha's breakfast.
Tarr was shy and the reverse by turns. He was alone. . Tarr gazed on this impersonality, of crowd origin, with autocratic scorn. 1 The Cambridge product Hobson ("He had nothing to distract him from the very satisfactory, if tame, advantages of his education. His training was a toy he never tired ____________________ 1 All quotations are from the first edition ( 1918), not the revised one of ten years later. The idiosyncratic punctuation is yet another device for preventing the prose from flowing.
This excollaborator with Joseph Conrad was himself, it always occurred to me, a typical figure out of a Conrad book--a caterer, or cornfactor, coming on board--blowing like a porpoise with the exertion--at some Eastern port. . This account of Ford was written in 1949. It is only a slightly more hurried application of the devices by which the stars and trees in Blast, or the characters of Tarr, were rendered thirty-five years earlier. If anything extended could be done with it, this early style would be one of the most impressive inventions in the history of English literature.
Wyndham Lewis by Hugh Kenner