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Tarr

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  224 ratings  ·  16 reviews

Played out against the backdrop of Paris before the start of the First World War, Tarr tells the blackly comic story of the lives and loves of two artists - the English enfant terrible Frederick Tarr, and the middle-aged German Otto Kreisler, a failed painter who finds himself in a widening spiral of militaristic self-destruction. When both become interested in the same tw

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Hardcover, 350 pages
Published March 1st 1990 by Black Sparrow Pr (first published January 1st 1918)
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Les Misérables by Victor HugoA Moveable Feast by Ernest HemingwayMy Life in France by Julia ChildA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Books About Paris
323rd out of 440 books — 431 voters
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Metamorphosis by Franz KafkaPeter Pan by J.M. BarrieHowards End by E.M. ForsterA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Best Books of the Decade: 1910's
147th out of 225 books — 369 voters


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Community Reviews

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Eddie Watkins
Tarr is a novel at war with itself, with tensions raging at not only the level of style and content, but at the level of the book itself in that it exists in a few versions, being altered and revised by Lewis as it suited his fancy and his temper and his ever-mutating world view, and so even subsequent editors have been at war in their attempts to produce a definitive version. What emerged from these various levels of war is a book in many ways more revolutionary than Ulysses.

The author of a st
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Erwin
Mar 12, 2008 Erwin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who'd like to see an overlooked modernist writer get his due
If you were to take with you on vacation Wyndham Lewis's Tarr as a beach read, it'd somehow manage to kick sand in your face. It isn't breezy, nor especially pleasant. There really isn't a character to like in the whole work. And, upon finishing it, you'll feel as if you spent a long time at a greatly demoralizing task like checking behind the testicles of prisoner after prisoner for crack rocks or razor blades.

Yet, the novel succeeds on its own terms. Lewis's puerile Nietzscheanism blares from
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Bob
Perhaps in reaction to the sometimes cardboard cut-out quality of the good guys and concomitant mustachio-twirling music hall melodrama villains in Victorian fiction, the early 20th century gives us a new kind of protagonist. Döblin's Franz Biberkopf and Céline's Ferdinand Bardamu are both anti-heroes who might have been modeled on Lewis's Kreisler.

It is notable that Otto Kreisler is somewhat more developed as a character than the eponymous Tarr, whose appearances in the first part (called "Ove
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Kitty
Lewis is a much underrated writer. Though his prose is rather convoluted at times, and the narrative sometimes gets swamped in observational details, the individuality of his style is on a par with contemporaries such as Joyce and Eliot. Tarr is an early novel, and reveals Lewis's developing philosophical and artistic viewpoint, as well as the antagonistic persona that would later come to dominate his reputation. The characters are rather like ciphers, as in Huxley, but none the less fascinating ...more
Patrick
I feel like Tarr is a book that keeps one wondering. Why are the characters so strange?
Who is Tarr, and what does the title of the book has to do with the semi-protagonist?
Another question that puzzles me is that the book starts of so hype, we get introduced to
characters that are hard to analyze, and to understand. Lewis' "Tarr" is a good work of literature
but also a very strange one. I feel that eventhough Lewis paints a picture of a delusional
Kreisler, he Kreisler is the only charcter in Le
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K.c.
This may end up being one of my favourite books. If you like slow-moving tragedies that also make you laugh out loud; if you like tales of former aristocrats living on tick in abject poverty; if you enjoy casual racism between Western European races, then this book is for you.
Alasdair Ekpenyong
The most memorable part of the novel was just the character formation: Kreisler, Anastasya, and other characters whom Lewis designs as stereotyped representations of Germans, Slavic peoples, and other nationalities. The novel is explosive and dramatic as each of the different characters, their headstrong philosophies, and their national stereotypes come into conflict with each other. I'm interested in the failure of marriage, friendship, or really any other form of bond or social contract to suc ...more
Jacquelynn Luben
I read this as a set book as a mature student. It was ghastly.
Nikolay Nikiforov
Сцены из жизни богемы, некоторые большой сатирической силы или просто фактурно примечательные. Проповеднический пафос у Льюиса почти такой же выразительный, как у Достоевского; но мысли его либо скучны, либо вовсе неумны.
Shannon
Is this book back in print? When I had to read it in college it was out of print and we had to print it out ourselves at the library.

This isn't a well-known work but I'd actually put it up with other giants of the modernist era. If you enjoy James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett or the like, you may enjoy "Tarr" quite a bit. The focus is more tightly trained on the plot than a lot of modernist works (which are more form and style than anything else) but "Tarr" has some very memorable scenes a
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Seth

The story that runs throughout is amazing, however obscured it might be by pretentious artistic banter.

Would have been much better if about 50 pages of dull philosophical waxing were cut out. I'm no philistine, but why ruin awesome prose with all that?

Despite all this I really enjoyed it. There is no doubt it is a classic and I'm surprised I haven't heard more about Lewis to begin with.
Jennifer
Jun 29, 2008 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jeannie
Recommended to Jennifer by: read in modern lit class
This is a brutal and devastating portrait of the fractured mind of European culture during World War I. I recommend it, but know what you're getting into! It kind of belongs with Notes From the Underground, by Dostoyevsky.
Karen
Felt like the author was trying to impress the reader with his use of obscure language, but didn't really have a story to tell. Some minor glimpses of genuinely entertaining wit drowning in huge pools of descriptive boredom.
Fred R
I can't believe I finished it. Every page or so, there's an excellent sentence. Otherwise...

Did David Brooks ever give Lewis credit for coming up with Bourgeois Bohemian?
Deanne
Really intersting read which I read in a day.
Sookicrisp
amazing, but kinda mean
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(Percy) Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) was a novelist, painter, essayist, polemicist and one of the truly dynamic forces of the early 20th century and a central figure in the history of modernism. He was the founder of Vorticism, the only original movement in 20th century English painting. His Vorticist paintings from 1913 are the first abstract works produced in England, and influenced the development ...more
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