(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Perhaps Blasting and Bombardiering was an attempt at exorcism. Lewis was disenchanted with the role of the artist in society long before World War I erupted, but his war experiences deepened that disenchantment and added to it a cynicism that festered within him for much of the remainder of his life. The title of the book, of course, refers to Lewis’s editorship of the avant-garde journal Blast, which, although suspended after two issues, made a significant artistic statement in its day, and to his training as a bombardier after he entered military service in 1916.

The book is divided into five sections, the first of which deals with the London literary scene as the war became a reality, focusing on the publication of Blast. The next two sections have to do with Lewis’s entry into military service and with his service, first as a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery serving in France and later as a painter of war pictures attached to the Canadian army and stationed in London.

The next section deals with postwar England, a period when Lewis was semiretired, trying to find himself after the shock of the war. He was a dedicated womanizer and lived to a large extent on the patronage of various rich women with whom he had liaisons. The period from 1919 to 1926 was a fallow one for Lewis, although he was working regularly on his writing and published six important books between 1926 and 1929. These books were all in the...

(The entire section is 485 words.)