Two characteristic expressions of Lewis's displacement of modernist poetics can be discovered in his fiction of the late twenties and thirties. In predominantly satiric works like The Childermass and The Apes of God , Lewis employs modernist techniques while divesting them of their thematic legitimation. They appear as mechanical and hollow, absurdly functional within the more general social and political farce portrayed in his books. These techniques are highly "inorganic" to Lewis's texts: they are not clearly motivated by events or characters and thus often appear like tics and mannerisms erupting into the text; nor are they justified by an overriding stylistic unity, as are the idiosyncratic sentence forms in James's The Golden Bowl , Lawrence's The Rainbow , Hemingway's early stories, or perhaps even Lewis's own Tarr .
In later works like The Revenge for Love and The Vulgar Streak , Lewis apparently renounces the disruptions of grammatical and narrative syntax characteristic of his earlier prose and returns in long stretches to something resembling classical realist style. While it would be possible to see this return to order in the fiction as congruent with Lewis's desire for order in the political arena, this view would both oversimplify the relation of literary form to politics and mischaracterize Lewis's prose of this time. On the one hand, the change in style does reflect Lewis's heightened rhetorical concern to establish his literary work within a broader social context (and not just political, but also commercial). On
the other hand, I want to suggest that this "realism," this return to certain "naturalist" conventions, is not as straightforward as it might first appear. For the world it "realistically" depicts is a universally de-realized one, one permeated by mimicry, counterfeit, diversion, imposture, and spectacle: the condition of generalized mimetism. The apparent transparency of these works is an unsettling, uncanny fiction of reference—not because the texts disrupt referentiality, like the vorticist montage text The Enemy of the Stars , but because the referent is explicitly thematized by the text as a mirage. More than "realist," these works are "hyper-realist"; if in a certain sense "naturalist," they nevertheless reflect a simulacral nature, a denatured reality of spectacles, codes, and models.
Yet while one can identify a certain shift from the novels of the late twenties to the novels of the thirties, the distinction should not be exaggerated. These two phases of Lewis's writing represent inflections and developments within a common late modernist aesthetic, rather than different modes altogether. In my view, the relevant divisions in Lewis's corpus are not between an "experimental" phase (ending in the twenties) and a return to "realism" (beginning in the thirties) but rather between the earlier work up to Tarr , the long middle phase including the majority of Lewis's fiction and criticism, and his partial abrogation of satire in the two late novels with which he attempted to complete The Human Age ( Monstre Gai and Malign Fiesta ), twenty-five years after the first installment (The Childermass ) appeared. Within the middle period, embracing the work of the late twenties and thirties along with much of Lewis's later work, there are a number of fundamental continuities, despite the differences in surface texture and style.
In any case, the shift that occurred across the divide of 1926-1927 did register itself in Lewis's writing in points of style and general approach, but still more decisively in the relation of Lewis's literary works to the surrounding social and discursive context. In particular, Lewis sought to engage as fully as possible the political, personal, and commercial vectors of his works, understanding such "contextual" points of reference as not merely contingent to the work's artistic structure and meaning but rather as essential to its artistic design. Paul Edwards argues that Lewis refracts the formal elements of modernism through his distinct, "rhetorical" focus: "The recognizable features of a standard 'Modernist' aesthetic are present . . . but transformed by the inclusion . . . of ideological awareness." Edwards goes on to note that Lewis's reputation has suffered for this ideological concern: "One reason for the lack of recognition of Lewis's Modernist aesthetic is that the
idea of the creation of a work of art as (at least partly) a self-conscious ideological critique of society is one that has a place in Marxist aesthetics, but not, until recently, in the Modernist tradition." One discerns in the development of Lewis's work over the twenties and early thirties a decisive rethinking of the social and political role of the category of form , a category central to the aesthetic ideology of modernism, and his desire to consider form primarily as a rhetorically and politically effective artistic means.
Modernist form, as Ferenc Fehér suggests, has a paradoxical double-ness in its relation to ideology. It at once disavows it and attempts to embody it sensuously: "This art is thoroughly free of ideology (tolerating no interpretations, refuting all 'ideal content' imposed on it), and at the same time it is thoroughly ideological (in so far as the 'form,' the formed world, is, so to speak, a sensualized theorem)." In its difficulty and singularity, the modernist work points to the rupture between itself and the ideological atmosphere of its readers. In its appeal to sensuous immediacy, however, it implicitly projects a reconciliation with that audience, in a utopian future perfect when it will have transformed or supplanted that ideology and can be understood transparently.
The reverse side of this utopian impulse in modernism is, however, as Stephen Spender suggests, a restriction of literature's engagement with topical, ideological issues:
Forster's antipolitics, antipower, anti-business attitude is implicit also in the novels of D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and Aldous Huxley, which have so little else in common. The fact is that the separation of the world of private values imagined in art from the world of the public values of business, science, politics was an essential part of the victory of the generation for whom "the world changed in 1910." . . . The aim of D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf was to create characters who were isolated creatures of unique awareness with sensibility transcending their material circumstances.
At its most involuted, as for example with Woolf's The Waves , this impulse to restrict the field of experience to a succession of unique, lyrically transfigured moments became the self-reflexive thematic center and narrative telos of the work. Through her chorus of characters, Woolf decomposed everyday experience into its component sensory atoms (the following scene takes place in the midst of London):
"Look," said Rhoda; "listen. Look how the light becomes richer, second by second, and bloom and ripeness lie everywhere; and our eyes, as they range
round this room with all its tables, seem to push through curtains of colour, red, orange, umber and queer ambiguous tints, which yield like veils and close behind them, and one thing melts into another."
"Yes," said Jinny, "our senses have widened. Membranes, webs of nerve that lay white and limp, have filled and spread themselves and float round us like filaments, making the air tangible and catching in them far-away sounds unheard before."
This intense abstraction from (or purification of) everyday experience placed rigid constraints on the writer, however, in key areas like choice of diction, plotting, character type, and thematic range. While Woolf's strong political concerns are in no way absent from The Waves , the novel's indirection and formal self-reflexivity does strongly affect the discursive range and rhetorical force with which these concerns can be expressed. A "formalist" reading of the book that fails to perceive its political aspects would be, of course, insufficient; yet given the dense thickets of prose through which these concerns must fight their way to the attention of a reader, such a reading could hardly be called aberrant. Quite the contrary, most remarkable is the degree to which the rich and detailed critical analysis that Woolf's work has garnered has become naturalized, for academic readers at least. To win some insight into how much effort has been required to educe the political content from Woolf's difficult texts, it is instructive to imagine oneself approaching a work like The Waves without this critical preparation of the ground.
Spender's remarks on Woolf's generation, of course, also fall short generally of capturing the genuinely political significance of modernism's displacement of "business, science, and politics" from the more forthright treatment they had received in Edwardian naturalism to the margins and even beyond. Recent critics of modernism, following the lead, above all, of the negative aesthetics of Theodor Adorno, have emphasized the political nature of this apparent "withdrawal" through form. Peter Nicholls, for example, suggests that early modernists saw in formal artifice a critical purchase on forms of sociality that were suspect or even unendurable for them. Their commitment to form was in no way "apolitical formalism" but precisely an investment of political concerns in a practice and ideology of artistic form: "It was Baudelaire's generation which took the first step toward a substitution of the aesthetic for 'the lost terrain of social representation.' This is not to suggest that writers suddenly ceased to be oppositional, but rather that the ground of opposition shifted from political rhetoric and
polemic to literary 'style.' " Nicholls goes on to argue that the symbolist tendencies in modernism, which had the most radical investment in form and artifice, should ultimately be understood as a form of social protest; for through their formal concerns the symbolists sought "to open up the divisions in subjectivity in order to call into question bourgeois ideals of rational progress and self-presence" (98). Analogously, Astradur Eysteinsson has identified modernism's political function as that of "interrupting" social modernization and rationalization and as putting brakes on the compulsory adaptation of subjective expressions to the social context in which they appear. "In refusing to communicate according to established socio-semiotic contracts," he concludes, the interruptive practices of modernism "imply that there are other modes of communication to be looked for, or even some other modernity to be created." Bob Perelman, in The Trouble with Genius , has studied the formal innovations of Pound, Joyce, Stein, and Zukofsky as manifestations of a paradoxically political rhetoric of "genius," as expressions of their common attempt to relate to their public context through a language that proves its legitimate claim to be heard by scorning all conventions of effective public and commercial address. Modernist form, in Perelman's view, is not so much apolitical as impossibly political.
Though certainly steeped in modernism's formal innovations, Lewis rejected the modernist politics of form : the investment in form as the primary mediation between the writer and his or her political, ideological, and social environment. Accordingly, Lewis displaces many of the central concerns evinced by modernist writers to justify their concentration on form, an emphasis he saw as an obstacle to the writer's critical engagement of the intellect. High modernism's emphasis on interiority; its appeal to allusive "depth" and "roundness" of character; its obsessive concern with temporality and history; its foregrounding of the ways that events are psychologically mediated; its valorizing of the unique over the commonplace or stereotype; its knotty quandaries about the relation of mind and language to the world—none of these can be said to characterize Lewis's fiction, except in its parodic reference to modernist works. But above all, Lewis disavowed the utopian aspiration implicit in modernist form that the work might one day be reconciled with its audience. In polemical contrast, he set himself in direct, intransigent relation to the ideological climate of his time.
When compared to the great high modernist prose writers, Lewis
seems accordingly unconcerned with formal innovation or complexity as such. As Bernard Lafourcade has argued,
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Lewis cannot be said to be a great experimentalist or innovator in the art of the novel. The septenary construction of both Tarr and The Revenge for Love or the duodecimal structure of Snooty Baronet are significant but far less vital for the success of the novels than is the truly vorticist ternary structure of To the Lighthouse , the immensely ambitious structure of Ulysses or the paradoxical combinations typical of Faulkner's books (think of Wild Palms or Requiem for a Nun ).
Yet while Lafourcade's observation is accurate, Lewis's novels could nevertheless hardly be described as conventional. Their literary center of gravity, however, lies not in the typically modernist engrossment with form but rather with a renewed engagement with figurality and rhetoric. For Lewis, Daniel Schenker writes, "Art does have a relationship to the world . . . but this relationship is more instrumental or rhetorical than mimetic. Thus, a fictional creation's effect upon its environment is more important than either its adherence to a canon of verisimilitude or its infidelity to inherent formal principles."
Not just Lewis's positive ideological interest, but also his evident abandonment of modernist formal principles in his fiction may account for his relatively low regard among critics attached to high-modernist standards. Lewis's attempt to establish his literary art on different grounds than those of his modernist peers puts him at odds with the evaluative bases of a great deal of twentieth-century Anglo-American criticism, so crucially shaped by modernist writers like T. S. Eliot, the New Critical poets, Yvor Winters, and others. Even critics like Hugh Kenner and Timothy Materer, generally sympathetic to Lewis, find his work falling short of greatness when measured against high-modernist writing. Materer, for example, judges Lewis's late modernist works on evaluative criteria that, in their appeal to vitality, roundness, and human depth, might have come straight out of E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel:
When one compares Lewis's characters to those of D. H. Lawrence and James Joyce, his creative limitation is evident. One might compare characters like Tarr, Percy Hardcaster, and René Harding to Joyce's Stephen Dedalus and Lawrence's Gerald Crich as studies in the corrosive effects of pride and intellectuality. However, Lewis does not have the complementary power to create a "woman in love" like Ursula Brangwen, or a fully realized young man like Paul Morel, or a grossly material but deeply human
character like Leopold Bloom. . . . In an atmosphere flooded with the "laughing gas of the abyss," all his characters live their fictional lives a bit groggily.
One would hardly want to deny, I think, that most readers will find these characters of Lawrence and Joyce more sympathetic than most of Lewis's (though what of Lawrence's cruel, quasi-allegorical puppet, Clifford Chatterley? what of Aaron or of Kangaroo?). As a reader not wholly insensible to the attractions of Lawrence's and Joyce's best characters, I am nevertheless led to wonder whether such judgments are really cogent as criticism. Once we leave the Forsterian reading room in which all novelists write their books simultaneously in a trance of inspiration, questions of history, intention, and literary politics must again be taken up. And here it seems necessary to recall that if Lewis never managed to create a character like those of Lawrence and Joyce, it is because he perhaps never intended to, and certainly not by the midtwenties, when he had set himself the task of satirically debunking modernist prose. It seems beside the point to judge the "shortcomings" of Lewis's work according to the evaluative criteria of high modernism, a literary poetics that Lewis had himself explicitly rejected.
I want to turn at this point from discussing the general outlines of Lewis's devaluation of form for contextual efficacy to considering some specific examples by which Lewis's relation to his context may be gauged. I am particularly interested in Lewis's relatively positive attitude toward the commercial dimensions of the work and toward the discourse of advertising, for it is here that the difference of Lewis's late modernist stance emerges most strikingly.
I will commence with the graphic shock of a peculiar juxtaposition. The facing illustrations are intended to suggest the shift in context that has occurred between the 1914 publication of Lewis vorticist drama Enemy of the Stars in the avant-garde journal Blast and its 1932 republication in book form. As Lewis suggests in his autobiography, the original version of the play was intended to assert and seal his leadership of the avant-garde circle around him. It drew its power and radicality from Lewis's privileged place as a painter, as the visual arts were clearly in advance of literary arts in terms of technical and formal innovation. "My literary contemporaries," Lewis writes, "I looked upon as too bookish
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and not keeping pace with the visual revolution. A kind of play, 'The Enemy of the Stars' (greatly changed later and published in book form) was my attempt to show them the way" (RA , 139). The work was, as Reed Way Dasenbrock suggests, primarily intended as a "gesture," a gesture of artistic genius, the evidence of which lay precisely in the
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formal innovations of Lewis's text: its destruction of narrative, fragmentation of syntax, and employment of typography and spatialized structure as primary vehicles of meaning. The first version of the play appears to be a clear-cut example of the rhetoric of genius that Perelman has identified in Lewis's main rivals in the canon of modernism, Joyce, Stein, and Pound. Indeed, Dasenbrock suggests that the importance and influence of Lewis's play may lie precisely in setting the pace for such "genius writing" as Perelman discusses: "Because of its origins as a polemical demonstration, [Enemy of the Stars ] is a peculiar, almost unreadable work. Nevertheless, it has had . . . a large (if previously undiscovered) impact on other writers. Moreover, its difficult style has been responsible for this influence" (128).
The context of the play's first appearance was, of course, the avant-garde journal Blast . The opening page of Lewis's text announces its tense relation with its context by playing with two distinct senses of the word advertisement : either the foreword of a book (as with the French, avertissement ) or a piece of commercial publicity (as in English). The aggressive typography rhetorically underscores the violent self-"advertisement" of Lewis's work; at the same time, its visual forms refer ironically to the aesthetically untamed formats of popular advertising type. Lewis thus suggests a complex relation of mimesis and critical destruction of the socially given form of advertising. Advertising is at once imitated in its abstract elements—its graphic shape and typographical vigor, its "loud" tone—and shattered by a syntax, diction, and content that could hardly be conducive to the commercial aims of the form. To take one line of the play: "A leaden gob, slipped at zenith, first drop of violent night, spreads cataclysmically in harsh water of coming. Caustic Reckett's stain." Could this be understood as an "advertisement" for a product, for instance "Reckett's stain"? The language of the "advertisement" would seem to have the very qualities conveyed by the passage about the "product": it is a leaden, violent, harsh, caustic stain of words on the page. "Who would like to buy? "—this "ad" sneers at its consumer. At the level of style the passage is above all characterized by the explosive tension between the various dimensions of the text: discursive, rhythmic, syntactical, lexical, tropological, and referential. It is this dissonance, this interference—and not a "message"—that is first and foremost communicated by the passage. In this first version of Enemy of the Stars , thus, Lewis has absorbed the advertising message into the formal and social
mechanisms of the avant-garde work, subjecting it to the rhetorical energies of vorticist aggression.
The later, book version of the play entered into a radically different context. The war had, as Lewis himself testified, stolen the thunder of Blast . If the first issue, with its loud red cover and violent rhetoric, could seem somewhat prophetic of the coming conflict, the second and final issue, the so-called War Number, had been but a pale echo of the first. Still more important, however, by the republication in 1932, Lewis had emerged as a major writer and critic, while his role as a painter had diminished. The republication followed Lewis's antimodernist polemics in The Art of Being Ruled and Time and Western Man and appeared in the immediate wake of Lewis's two most notorious (and personally damaging) books: his satirical novel The Apes of God and his book Hitler , which had appeared in article form in Time and Tide in 1931. Dasenbrock characterizes the shift from the 1914 to the 1932 text as one of "restoration"—restoration of narrative, of syntactic continuity, indeed, of a suppressed (sub)text: "The 1932 text . . . reveals that Lewis deliberately disfigured the narrative in 1914. He had a coherent, legible narrative in mind but rewrote the play suppressing the elements that would have allowed a reader to follow that narrative readily. Only in 1932 did Lewis make available the parallel text that enabled readers to make sense of Enemy of the Stars , but by then no one was particularly interested" (134). Obviously, one aspect of this "return to narrative" is Lewis's increasing emphasis on rhetorical and ideological effectiveness and his accompanying devaluation of "form"; from the rigorous strictures he placed on the modernism of his peers, Lewis did not spare even his own earlier work. Yet Lewis's interest in this "restoration" is not only political, it is also aimed at finding a place for his work within the commercial and critical context. A reading of the advertisement for Enemy of the Stars in the 23 July 1932 issue of Time and Tide (where Lewis was a regular contributor, including of the articles on Hitler) makes this point almost too obviously (see fig. 5).
In this advertisement, Lewis's book is spatially apposed to the financial self-help book on the left of the page, as well as to the high-culture publication of Chopin's Letters with which it shares the Desmond Harmsworth box. Within the ad for Lewis's book is included a quote, which itself serves to announce the forthcoming critical work of Hugh Gordon Porteus (Wyndham Lewis: A Discursive Exposition ) and to signify Lewis's importance as a writer, precisely because he is the object of
a critical monograph. The typography and layout and the disjunctive relation of registers could, indeed, have made this advertising page at home in the original Blast . But now, in 1932, it is not the text but the context of discourse within which the text as salable book appears that speaks the graphic language of the avant-garde. Whereas the early version of the text absorbed and shattered the social forms of advertising in the avant-garde work, here the avant-garde work has been reab-sorbed by the discourses of the context, made to recirculate in the channels of commerce and publicity that the Blast version of Enemy had so aggressively displaced onto its avant-garde "stage."
This resocialization of the untamed avant-garde work was far from unintended. It followed consistently from Lewis's reexamination of modernist poetics. One of the most poignant—and comical—examples of this reexamination can be seen in Lewis's deluded but symptomatically important commercial schemes for the marketing of his magnum opus, The Apes of God . In Lewis's thinking about the book as material artifact, as well as in his formal, stylistic, and thematic concerns, The Apes of God represented a major shift from the presuppositions of modernist aesthetics.
While critics have become increasingly aware of the extent of the complex divergence between the aesthetic ideology of modernism and modernist writers' practical manipulation of publicity, few would be prepared to suggest that the idea of writing as an autonomous, professional calling standing over and against commercial vulgarization is not integral to modernist poetics and practice. One can see, for example, Pound's ambivalent relation to publicity in a 1914 squabble with Amy Lowell over the public image of imagism. Lowell had published an advertisement for her book Sword Blades and Poppy Seed which read: "Of the poets who to-day are doing the interesting and original work, there is no more striking and unique figure than Amy Lowell. The foremost member of the 'Imagists'—a group of poets that includes William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Ford Maalox Hueffer—she has won wide recognition for her writing in new and free forms of poetical expression." Pound raised a fuss about the ad both to Harriet Monroe, editor of Poetry , and to Lowell herself. To Monroe he wrote:
As to Amy's advertisement. It is, of course, comic. On the other hand, it is outrageous. . . .
If it dealt with biscuits or a brand of sardines [the publisher, Essenwei]n
and possibly the magazines publishing the adv. would be liable to prosecution. (43)
To Lowell, referring to the ad, Pound carped in a similar but expanded vein:
In view of the above arrant charlatanism on the part of your publishers, I think you must now admit that I was quite right in refusing to join you in any scheme for turning Los Imagistes into an uncritical democracy with you as intermediary between it and the printers.
[. . . .]
I don't suppose any one will sue you for libel; it is too expensive. If your publishers "of good standing" tried to advertise cement or soap in this manner they would certainly be sued. . .
P.S. I notice that the canny [Essenwei]n in his ad refrains from giving a leg up to any of the less well known members of the school who might have received a slight benefit from it. (44)
I have quoted at length, because these letters bring to the fore the essence of Pound's relation to publicity and professionalism. First, Pound insists on the equal status of poetry as a professional activity. It should, Pound ironically implies, be accorded equal dignity as factory work and be subject to at least the same protection under the law as industrial and consumer products (biscuits, sardines, cement, soap). In apposing it to such humble goods, it is the autonomy of poetry Pound is defending, however, not its lowly everydayness, as for example Eric Satie did when he proposed to write "furniture music." Second, Pound clearly objects to the vulgar commercialism and self-serving character of Lowell's advertisement. It is advancing Lowell, not writing as such, not even the group of writers (viz. his complaint that only the best-known writers were mentioned). Finally, while publicity is legitimate as a tactic for gaining recognition in a society that values poetry less than sardines and soap, it also threatens the aristocratic logic by which poetry must advance. If publicity is to be used, its employment is nonetheless dangerous and must be carefully policed. If it takes on a logic of its own, unsubordinated to the small group's end, it can lead to "uncritical democracy," the loss of clear boundaries between the public and the professional elite of poets and hence the decline in the quality of the product.
Against this backdrop of his friend's coherent but fraught attitude toward publicity, Wyndham Lewis's schemes for selling The Apes of God appear all the more striking. Lewis planned what he referred to as a
"speak-easy" edition of his massive satire, to be published by the Arthur Press and priced at an inexpensive 7/6d. While this edition never appeared, the following circular letter, surely composed by Lewis himself, has been preserved:
We are shortly publishing a popular edition of Mr. Wyndham Lewis's novel, The Apes of God , probably at 7/6d. We are also publishing it with advertisements . The adverts. will not be confined to those of publishers and bookshops. We are including other adverts. of Steamship Lines, tooth-pastes, and lawn mowers.
This will be the first novel since the age of Dickens to carry advertisements. It will be a unique event in the publishing world . It is certain to arouse a great deal of interest and result in a wide publicity: and at the above price the book is certain to be very widely read.
The charge for a whole page is £5, a half page £2.10.0 We hope you will take this unusual opportunity of advertising in a more permanent form than the newspaper or the magazine offers—which once read is thrown away. For one person who reads any given copy of a magazine, a hundred read any given copy of a book .
As the time is short before the date fixed for our going to press, we hope you will send us your copy at once.
THE ARTHUR PRESS (Letters , 196-197)
This astonishing document reveals the degree to which Lewis was not only willing to acquiesce to the logic of publicity, but was actively attempting to meet commercialized, commodified discourse on its own terms. To sell Apes and advance his position against those attacked in the book, Lewis was projecting an inexpensive edition, which in turn committed him to selling advertising. The book itself would become the site of commercial exchange, as typographical space was divvied up at so much a page.
Still more striking, however, are the arguments with which Lewis surrounds these facts. First, he wants to break free of the book world (booksellers and publishers) and enter into the much wider industrial and consumer economies: "Steamship Lines, tooth-pastes, and lawn mowers." This goes well beyond Pound's assertions of the rights of poetry to be treated at least as well as sardines. Lewis's claim is both less rhetorical and more far-reaching. He is not ironically commenting on how little recognition his work can gain in a commodified world but is rather seriously staking a claim within the very domain of commerce. Moreover, while Lewis, like earlier avant-gardists, sets his book against
the commodified medium of the newspaper, his gesture is otherwise quite different. It is not intended, as was the case with Mallarmé, to assert the purity of his writing against the impurity of commercial discourse, nor even, as with Joyce in Ulysses , to create an ironic tension between the cited newspaper speech and the grand literary tapestry within which it appears. On the contrary, in his competition with the newspaper, Lewis asserts the superiority of the book precisely on the newspaper's own terrain: as an effective medium of publicity . Lewis does not argue that the book is the repository of more enduring cultural values and is therefore superior to the throwaway writing in the newspaper. Rather, it is that the material form of the writing, as preserved in books, is more enduring, thus allowing it to be seen by more people for a longer cycle of circulation. Hence, Lewis concludes, advertising in books should prove more successful than newspaper ads. In setting himself up as a latter-day heir of the "age of Dickens," finally, Lewis embraces precisely the most commodified aspects of literary production in that day: subscriptions, serial production, advertisement, the thoroughgoing commercialization of authorship. It is these features of the book, before even its content is considered, which will make Apes a "unique event in the publishing world."
Of course, the scheme, and what seems to have been Lewis's sincere hopes for it, was ridiculously overblown. One can hardly imagine Lloyd's of London taking out a full-pager to precede the "Lesbian Ape" or the "Ape-Flagellant" chapters of Lewis's novel! But a small vestige of the plan remained in the second printing of the 1931 Nash and Grayson trade edition (the Arthur Press 1930 collector's edition of 750 copies preceded this edition). The verso of the title page was altered to register its commercial status. It reads: "First Cheap Edition / Published November 1931 / Second Impression . . . March 1932. "