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3.41  ·  Rating details ·  410 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published March 1st 1990 by Black Sparrow Pr (first published 1918)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  410 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Vit Babenco
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tarr is a collision of everything new with everything old and it is a clash of intellectual and animal origins of man pictured in odd metaphoric strokes.
I am the panurgic-pessimist, drunken with the laughing-gas of the Abyss: I gaze upon squalor and idiocy, and the more I see them the more I like them. Flaubert built up his Bouvard et Pécuchet with maniacal and tireless hands, it took him ten years: that was a long draught of stodgy laughter from the gases that rise from the dung-heap.

For me
E. G.
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Bryant
Jun 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, novels

Even people who thought Wyndham Lewis was a great writer, such as George Orwell, said stuff like

Enough talent to set up dozens of ordinary writers has been poured into Wyndham Lewiss so-called novels yet it would be a very heavy labour to read one of these books right through


Ive come across a few well regarded authors with unreadable styles, meaning that you have to be some kind of rarified Everest-scaling Arctic-Sea-kayaking type of reader to be able to get
Eddie Watkins
Mar 19, 2009 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
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Introduction: Tarr suggests several possible origins. It may be the nickname for a British sailor who can stay masterfully afloat in the metaphorical sea of Paris (All the nice girls love a tar! Lewis later writes in another context); it may suggest the sticky tenacity, and perhaps the blackness, of his intellectualism; it may allude to a story by Edgar Allan Poe, The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, in which madmen take over an asylum. But it also suggests the German Tor (blockhead) ...more
Mar 12, 2008 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
Apr 23, 2016 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.
Feb 04, 2015 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
Monty Milne
I didnt like this, although it held my interest to the end, and has a certain curious power. The early chapters are the worst, because the dialogue feels so false and affected and pretentious. The most interesting character, Otto Kreisler, is at times treated in blackly comic fashion his absurd performance at a party, combining breathtaking insults with anarchist dance moves, made me laugh aloud.but later on the smile froze on my lips as I read of things which are Not Funny in the slightest. ...more
Nov 07, 2012 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 ...more
Lewis Lacook
If I could be convinced that Lewis was poking some fun at his own pretentiousness in the character of Tarr, I might award it three stars. The depiction of Kreisler was for me much more interesting; but I was put off about a lot of the focus on nationality and the general pretentiousness of the aesthetic ideas. This novel veers perilously close into letting its characters be flat symbols. I don't feel Tarr is an actual person, and if I feel Kreisler is a bit more defined it's probably because ...more
Oct 15, 2011 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
Mar 03, 2011 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.
Jacquelynn Luben
Apr 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
I read this as a set book as a mature student. It was ghastly.
I found everything about this book to be completely exhausting and after about 160 pages (or a little more than half way into this 280 page book), I flung it to the floor with an enormous exhale. How does this have more than a one star rating, and did the person who listed this on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list actually read this book?!?! Can I give a book zero stars?

So what didn't I like? In short, everything.

The character development is totally lacking. Not only are most of the
Jun 29, 2008 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.
Katya Kamyanets
Nov 09, 2016 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,
J. Alfred
Feb 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not a love triangle but square, as both women are interested in both men and vice versa, but this isn't right either as no one is, properly speaking, in love with anyone. None of the characters are likable or even particularly interesting. The plot involves-- is-- people of various nationalities doing vicious (brutal, socially unacceptable, motivated by vice) things for no real reason. The language does some good things but not enough to make it worthwhile. Like Bernard Shaw but without the ...more
Judith Rich
Jul 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
Pretentious misogynistic twaddle.

Another book about artists moaning how broke they are while they wait for their cheque from Daddy, who surprisingly seems reluctant to support them and thinks they should get a job.

To be honest, if I hadn't taken this on holiday I'd probably have abandoned it.

Read as one of 1001 BTRBYD - I see there are another 4 by this author on the list, so that's 4 more I won't get round to reading before I die!
Nov 05, 2020 added it
Shelves: november-2020
Charlie Ericson
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm confusedly catharticized
David D
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
To all current and future employers ---- I do not endorse certain subtexts within this novel
Alasdair Ekpenyong
Jan 09, 2015 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 ...more
Dec 21, 2016 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 ...more
Mar 12, 2012 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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013, 1001-books
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.
Nikolay Nikiforov
Sep 23, 2014 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 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?
Really intersting read which I read in a day.
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Reading 1001: Tarr 1 6 Oct 31, 2020 01:23PM  

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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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