Individualism and Wyndham Lewis : a case for reconsideration

Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2013
Thesis identifier
  • T13531
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • Individualism is a school of philosophy that has always held a particular appeal to artists and writers due to its situation of the individual at the core of its beliefs. To artists, the issue of autonomy has always been of the utmost importance because through it, they establish themselves as objective chroniclers and critics of society. This connection between individualism and the artist led Oscar Wilde to state in The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891) that 'Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known. I am inclined to say that it is the only real mode of individualism that the world has known' (142). With this idea in mind, it is worth reconsidering the English artist and writer Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) because prevalent throughout all of his work is a concern for the artist and the issue of maintaining one's autonomy. For Lewis, individualism is a philosophy that encourages uniqueness, and so throughout Lewis's work one can see an evolving personal philosophy, a bringing together of elements from numerous schools of thought, so as to create a personalised philosophy. This thesis charts the evolution of Lewis's individualism, which begins with his strong endorsement of the individual in the avant-garde magazine Blast and an opposition to French philosopher Henri Bergson's time philosophy, which then develops throughout his fictional works "Enemy of the Stars," "The Crowd Master", and ends with his first novel Tarr. It engages but eventually defines itself against German philosopher Max Stirner's philosophy of Egoism and is a philosophy that is couched in French Sociologist Gustave Le Bon's rhetoric of herd opposition, incorporates in elements of Nietzsche's Übermensch; and ends with a philosophy that through its combination of various diverse elements is entirely unique to Lewis.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2013
Former identifier
  • 996684