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3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  287 Ratings  ·  21 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

Hardcover, 350 pages
Published March 1st 1990 by Black Sparrow Pr (first published 1918)
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Eddie Watkins
Mar 19, 2009 Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-fiction
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
Mar 12, 2008 Erwin rated it really liked it  ·  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
Feb 04, 2015 Bob rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 07, 2012 Kitty rated it really liked it
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
Oct 15, 2011 Patrick rated it liked it
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
Apr 23, 2016 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
everyone in this book acts weird and wyndham lewis keeps comparing them to machinery, or livestock, or pieces of meat. there's some funny scenes, like wyndham lewis stand in spouting philosophy at people who aren't really interested, wyndham lewis stand in trying to break up with his curvy german gf, kriesler attempting to borrow money, kriesler going to a party and sabotaging it deliberately for no reason, it's pretty cool.
Mar 03, 2011 K.c. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 29, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
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.
Jacquelynn Luben
Apr 02, 2009 Jacquelynn Luben rated it did not like it
I read this as a set book as a mature student. It was ghastly.
Katja Kamjanets
Nov 09, 2016 Katja Kamjanets rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel that combines a lot in it.
It's just as trivial as it is complicated.
It can be viewed as an ode to male vanity, of a man who wants to seem more nobel than he is, or as a philosophical novel. The philisophical novel simply displaying the common views of its time, or a nove showing a unique individual position of the author. His position is shown through his characters' opinions and long dialogues about art and life. At the same time, those characters live human lives, they eat, they drink,
Apr 23, 2016 Tony rated it it was ok
TARR. (1918). Wyndham Lewis. *1/2.
This was a new author for me. It turns out that the author was famous for his contributions to a variety of art movements as well as being a prolific writer – though of unusually obscure works. From the jacket: “Set in contemporary Paris, “Tarr” is the picture of a grotesque world where human relationships are simply fodder for a master race f artists. Lewis inhabits this world himself, writing with the all-powerful – sometimes comic, sometimes bgrutal eye of th
Alasdair Ekpenyong
Jan 09, 2015 Alasdair Ekpenyong rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 21, 2016 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Published in 1918, but set before the war in the pan-European artistic community in Paris, this story centres on four people, of whom the eponymous artist Frederick Tarr, may be the least interesting. Otto Kreisler, angry, jealous, frustrated and lacking in Tarr's easy charisma ends up fighting a duel over a woman. The two women of the piece, the exotic Russian arriviste Anastasya Vasek and the more staid German Bertha Lunken are both involved with both men. The characters, much like the nationa ...more
Mar 12, 2012 Seth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012

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.
May 13, 2016 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Written in the early 19o0s by artist and polemicist Wyndham Lewis, the tale of a German and an English artist in the city of Paris and their muse(s). Rather sneering at the insincere Bohemian mannerisms of the characters, the book is a rather heavy-handed look at their situation, with much navel-gazing and fits of melodrama among the Parisian cafes.
Mar 18, 2013 Karen rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1001-books, 2013
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.
Note on the Text
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Wyndham Lewis
Map of Paris


Appendix: Preface to the 1918 American Edition
Explanatory Notes
Glossary of Foreign Words and Phrases
Nikolay Nikiforov
Sep 23, 2014 Nikolay Nikiforov rated it liked it
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.
Fred R
Sep 10, 2013 Fred R rated it it was ok
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?
Feb 12, 2013 Sookicrisp rated it really liked it
Shelves: meanie
amazing, but kinda mean
Really intersting read which I read in a day.
Sarah Mcbride
Sarah Mcbride rated it really liked it
Mar 21, 2014
Oleuanna Twig
Oleuanna Twig rated it it was amazing
Mar 22, 2012
Adrian rated it liked it
Nov 17, 2010
Gerry rated it really liked it
Aug 02, 2016
Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson rated it really liked it
Jul 09, 2014
Jonathan Darroch
Jonathan Darroch rated it did not like it
Jul 17, 2011
Arianna rated it liked it
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Tony rated it liked it
Nov 21, 2011
Megan rated it it was amazing
Mar 18, 2007
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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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