Another criminally out of print author. Having delighted in the exhibition of his portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. I started hunting down his fiction and other writings. Championed by Ezra Pound, his abrasive (and politically dubious, to say the least) modernism is thrilling and singular. Hectic and hilarious prose, surreal imagery and a breathtaking use of language, you can't help but wonder if Beckett was a fan.

But I was flabbergasted to discover that almost all of his works are out of print. Some had been Penguin Modern Classics and others were made available by the heroic Black Sparrow Press but now only The Childermass, the first volume of his Human Age trilogy published by the legendary Calder Books, is still in print. I dropped a line to One World Classics, who bought the Calder list, and they are working on bringing back into print the Human Age, Tarr and one of his memoirs Blasting and Bombadiering. Good news!

(Before posting this I have, of course, ruthlessly pruned online second hand booksellers of the cheapest copies of his backlist - sorry!)

Readers Comments

  1. That is indeed good news. Even better news is that Thames and Hudson are doing a reprint of BLAST.

    Prior to these reprints I find have been good for getting Wyndham's stuff:- I got the Black Sparrow Press version of Tarr off there a year back, and have just ordered an old 30s copy of Apes of God from there too - both at very reasonable prices.

    BLAST on the other hand I haven't been able to get for love nor money, well, not for under £100 anyway!

    Both reprints are long overdue recognitions of a great talent. As I've said elsewhere at Spike, While his vile, wretched and frankly unforgivable politics shouldn't be white-washed, they don't negate the great work, see also Larkin, Dostoyevsky, Eliot etc. etc.

    Wish I could get to see his portrait exhbition, too far unfortunately.

  2. Cheers Ben - spotted the Blast and got in touch with a mate at T&H. Unfortunately it's been delayed to the Spring - but it is apparently a facsimile edition. Very exciting!

    Cheers for the link to alibris - i haven't tried them - and they a look a little cheaper than where I got my copies. Curses!

  3. I have a good pdf copy of BLAST - downloaded from where, I cannot recall. A paper copy would, however, be well received.

    Lewis's prose delivers a beautifully crispy punch - not always easy to read at length, it must be said - but stunning in its own particular (if not peculiar) way. I have always thought the humour of BLAST to be misunderstood. Perhaps by me. In any case, it never fails to cracks me up.

    One line is, this week, especially relevant:

    'BLAST First (from politeness) ENGLAND

    Well, indeed.

  4. I'm pleased to report that Oxford World Classics plans to reissue the 1928 text of Lewis's "Tarr" in 2010. And digital copies of "Blast" can be found on the Modernist Journals Project website, hosted by Brown University.

  5. "Snooty Baronet" (1932) is excellent, like a Nabokov novel before Nabokov was writing them that way.

  6. I think you'll find a search amongst the different online bookseller websites may yield inexpensive fruit: I managed to pick up a brand new copy Black Sparrow Press copy of 'Tarr' for about AU$40 pounds, whereas it was going for about AU$200 dollars on Amazon at the same time. Not unreasonable. Very excited to hear OUP is reissuing 'Tarr' - I wonder which version they'll favour.

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