The Revenge for Love Essay - Critical Essays

Wyndham Lewis

Critical Context

The Revenge for Love is regarded by many critics as Lewis’ best novel. In part, the novel has fared so well because, unlike his others, it contains likable characters, a degree of human sentiment, and a drop, at least, of compassion. Most of his satires, especially of the 1930’s, contain savage assaults on the British intellectual establishment, which was overwhelmingly leftist in its political leanings and which rather effectively froze Lewis out. Both as an artist and as an intellectual of some force and energy, Lewis became an embarrassment in England. Much of his rightist political stance he subsequently retracted, as he witnessed Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and his behavior toward the Jews, so that in later years he has been treated more kindly by the critics, who have focused more on his artistic and fictional career than on his political one.

It would be untrue, however, to think that Lewis stood alone during the 1930’s. D. H. Lawrence, a favorite target of his, as well as T. S. Eliot, shared many of Lewis’ concerns, as did a good number of people outside the intellectual circles of both England and America. Lewis’ warnings against Socialist excesses turned out to have been prophetic, and some of those who opposed him in the 1930’s sided with him after World War II. Lewis is now viewed as an eccentric but important figure in the modernist movement. As a writer, an artist, and an intransigent polemicist, he occupied a central place in the European artistic and intellectual world between the wars.