Andrew Taylor

A Hero at the End

Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis

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Joanathan Cape 697pp £25 order from our bookshop

Wyndham Lewis: Painter and Writer

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Yale University Press 583pp £50 order from our bookshop

Readers of a biography may expect to ‘get inside the subject’s head’: but the squeamish may find that getting on first-name terms with his brain tumour is carrying intimacy a little far. Paul O’Keeffe opens his exhaustive study of Wyndham Lewis’s life, Some Sort of Genius, with a pitiless description of the tumour that eventually blinded him, a ‘morbid excrescence … pink in section and stippled with blood vessels’, and thoughtfully named FA1008 by the Westminster Medical School.

There is more to come: by the last of these 600-odd pages, barely a cranny of the unfortunate Lewis’s brain, mouth, eyes or genitals remains unexposed. This, it seems, is literary biography for medical students.

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