Everyone seems to have heard of Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), but no one is quite sure who he was. He is known—more or less—as an artist, a novelist, a man of controversy, an associate of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, and a fascist. He was all these—and more. Lewis is a puzzle, so much so that many find it more expedient to ignore him than to try to make sense of him.

No one did more to create confusion about himself than Wyndham Lewis. His oeuvre is huge—and impossibly scattered. He published some forty books: visionary novels, satires, naturalistic novels, a body of short fiction, a book-length poem, art criticism, literary criticism, philosophy, social commentary, political polemics, travel writing, and autobiography. He made roughly one thousand paintings and drawings in styles that range from semi-abstraction to straightforward figuration. In addition to all this, he filled his writings with hundreds of...

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