Wyndham Lewis: modernism and the ancient lights

Gilfedder, Luke (2021). Wyndham Lewis: modernism and the ancient lights. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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The claim of this study is that Wyndham Lewis was both a ‘revolutionary traditionalist’ and a ‘visionary modernist’ and not, as he is commonly assumed to be, a ‘reactionary modernist’. This study proposes that Lewis's work exhibits i) a Promethean drive to creation and freedom and a radical Modernist desire to realise an imaginative and ethical consciousness in the face of modern rationality, but that ii) this ‘revolutionary’ ambition is offset by a traditionalist resistance to grand teleological narratives, a classical insistence on humanity’s limitations, and a preference for the ‘ancient light' of eternity over Progress and time. The study relates this key tension in Lewis’s oeuvre to an emergent metapolitical conflict between a resurgent, reactionary traditionalism on the one hand and a potentially diabolical techno- scientific futurism on the other (whose intellectual predecessors are Lewis's fellow Modernists like F.T. Marinetti and Ernst Jünger). The study concludes that Lewis’s thought points to a ‘third way’ between these two metapolitical positions— one that ensures the inexorable march toward the singularity and a post-human future will be accomplished in tandem with nature and with the creative individual, rather than against him.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Language and Linguistics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11841


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