Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The principal aim of The Revenge for Love is to expose the underlying falseness of the Communist cause, a falseness resulting from not only the wrongness of the ideas espoused by the party but also the insincerity of the members of that party. Lewis became the Enemy during the 1930’s, when he took the unpopular side of Fascism both in his fiction and in his books of political analysis. As has been remarked elsewhere, T. S. Eliot was regarded as simply eccentric for his political beliefs; Lewis was regarded as dangerous.

What Lewis feared most, and what this novel attacks, is the expanding power of a mass cult, which socialism was producing as a result of its insistence on centralized political control. The homogenization of humanity was for Lewis an anathema, because it decreased the value of individualism, once a hallowed English tradition. In his portrayal of British leftists, he tried to demonstrate the insidious erosion of such traditional values. In addition, Lewis took great pride in being an outsider, and he believed that the outside was the only place for a true artist, if he was to depict society and its values with any perspective. To be inside was to be blinded. His theory is even reflected in the way he constructed his novels: always from the outside, never allowing his vision to be distorted by the personal involvements of his characters.

The theme of fakery, which is introduced early in the fiction through the presence...

(The entire section is 489 words.)