(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

No one can be expected to love satire, especially the reader, Wyndham Lewis wrote in 1934, but for the writer it is otherwise. Like his other works of fiction, The Revenge for Love is a satire, but it is satire with a difference. Not only is the novel considered his best, if not his most typical, but also it is a much gentler book, one in which the characters assume a human dimension often missing in his other satires.

The book is divided into seven parts and begins in Spain, where Percy Hardcaster, a British Communist organizer, is awaiting trial for his political activities. It is uncertain whether he will be shot or pardoned. Because of this uncertainty, he decides to escape with the aid of the prison guard, Serafin, and with some help from the outside. During the attempt, the guard is killed and Percy is shot in the leg, which he eventually loses. The end of the opening section finds Percy recuperating in a Spanish hospital attended by devoted nuns.

The second part of the novel moves the story to London and introduces the reader into the world of left-wing politics among the intellectuals and artists of England. The reader meets Victor Stamp, an Australian painter of uncertain talent, and his devoted wife, Gwendolyn Margaret Savage (Margot), and learns of their dire economic situation and of Victor’s doubts about his artistic abilities. Section 3 begins with a description of John (Jack) Cruze’s office, where he advises his clients on their tax difficulties and where one is also introduced to Tristram (Tristy) Phipps, a rather well-known and successful young painter who, because he occasionally paints nudes, attracts Jack’s interest. At Tristy’s...

(The entire section is 693 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The Revenge for Love is generally regarded as Lewis’s most successful novel. Despite its sometimes stinging satire, the book has a warmth and gentleness that distinguishes it from Lewis’s other writing, particularly his writing of the 1930’s. The novel is arranged in seven parts; Lewis is slow but calculated in bringing together its various characters and situations. The writing is vivid. The novel’s visual effects are meticulous and detailed.

The setting of the first section is Spain during its civil war. Percy Hardcaster, a Briton who is in Spain as a Communist organizer, is in prison waiting to be tried. A verdict against him will result in his execution. Rather than await the outcome, Percy, with the help of a Spanish double agent posing as a prison guard, escapes. The guard, Serafin, is shot and killed; Percy is injured and loses his leg.

The novel then shifts to London, where Lewis introduces a number of leftist intellectuals and artists. Among them are Victor Stamp, an Australian painter, and his wife, Margot. They are impoverished, and Victor is losing confidence in himself as an artist. In the next section, Jack Cruze, a tax consultant, is introduced, along with a successful young painter, Tristram Phipps, and his wife, Jill. Jack is interested in Tristram because he paints nudes. He quickly falls in love with Tristram’s wife and one day, accidentally seeing her nude, is totally inflamed with passion. By the next section, Jack and Jill are having a torrid affair (one inevitably recalls what happened to Jack and Jill in the well-known nursery...

(The entire section is 651 words.)


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Kenner, Hugh. Wyndham Lewis, 1954.

Materer, Timothy. Wyndham Lewis the Novelist, 1976.

Meyer, Jeffrey, ed. Wyndham Lewis: A Revaluation, 1980.

Pritchard, William H. Wyndham Lewis, 1968.

Wagner, Geoffrey. Wyndham Lewis: A Portrait of the Artist as the Enemy, 1957.