«It was as Russian that I wrote my first novel». Wyndham Lewis and Dostoevskij

Flora de Giovanni


The purpose of this study is highlighting the influence exerted by Dostoevsky’s work on Wyndham Lewis’ first novel, Tarr (1918), and the consequent similarity between their fictional methods. Although in the age of the so-called “Dostoevsky cult” the Russian writer was mostly praised for his moral concern and his interest in psychology, the English literary world unanimously perceived his novels as shapeless and heterogeneous in structure and style – “fluid puddings”, in the words of Henry James. On the contrary, Lewis seems to acknowledge the originality of the Russian novelist’s textual construction, that highly complex, vital whole, later identified by Bakhthin as the expression of a «plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousnesses». If compared with The Possessed, Tarr reveals its debt to Dostoevsky’s narrative in the depiction of the characters and especially in the plot, revolved around a series of scenes charged with psychological dynamism, which are clearly reminiscent of the Russian’s tumultuous, scandal-ridden group scenes.


Modernism; English; Dostoevskij; Lewis; Novel

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/280

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17559

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