In 'the mouth of [the] cave': Wyndham Lewis, myth and the philosophical discourse of modernity circa 1914

Lewis, C (2017) In 'the mouth of [the] cave': Wyndham Lewis, myth and the philosophical discourse of modernity circa 1914. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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The central aim of this thesis is to clarify the conceptual role which 'myth' plays in Lewis's Vorticist 'pattern of thinking' and in doing so to deepen the existing critical understanding of Lewis's central importance to modernism (Foshay, 1984). As a reflective participant in modernism's turn to myth, Lewis, as I treat him here, opens a new and important chapter in the philosophical discourse of modernity, showing both the creative possibilities which myth presented the modern artist and highlighting the alarming consequences of seeking a new home for art among the ruins of ancient 'world pictures' (Heidegger, 2013). This point of focus leads me to join together two previously unconnected but highly relevant strands of Lewis scholarship, represented on one side by certain notable studies of Lewis's application to mythical source from Hindu, Buddhist and Gnostic typologies and, on the other side, in the identification of a corresponding anthropological rationale in Lewis's early writings. My analysis focuses particularly on instances in Lewis's Vorticist works when a mythopoeic tendency is consciously undercut by a lurking anthropological tendency which compels the rational disclosure of the myths being created. These warring elements of mythos and logos I take to be the 'master-subject' of Lewis's Vorticist text Enemy of the Stars and a crucial but previously underappreciated aspect of Lewis's early thought (Lewis, 1966). In order to access this feature of Lewis's works it has been necessary to conduct some preliminary research into the context of modernist 'primitivism', the formulation of Vorticist aesthetics and philosophy, and the thematic relation which exists between Lewis's early paintings and writings. These preparatory discussions are conducted in chapters one, two and three respectively, while the role played by myth in Lewis's pattern of thinking and the broader philosophical significance of this are addressed directly in chapters four and five.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

Thesis supervised by Prof Paul Edwards and Dr Faith Binckes.

Keywords: Wyndham Lewis, vorticism, modernism, early 20th century art, fiction, Hinduism, Buddhism, gnosticism, mythology, philosophy
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2018 09:08
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 13:33
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