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Blast, The Good Soldier, Vortex: Pound, Eliot, and Lewis

a magazine, subtitled ‘the Review of the Great English Vortex’, founded in London in 1914 by Wyndham Lewis. The first issue generated much publicity and controversy; only one further edition was published, the ‘War Number’ of July 1915, which, with the exception of T. S. Eliot's ‘Preludes’ and ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’, contains less work of interest than its predecessor. Ezra Pound, the magazine's co-editor, the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, and the painter Edward Wadsworth were Lewis's chief collaborators. Together they formed the core of the Vorticist movement in art and literature, which violently rejected the aesthetic values of the nineteenth century; Pound described ‘the Vortex’ as a ‘radiant node or cluster … from which, and through which, and into which, ideas are constantly rushing’, drawing on astronomical theories of the spiral as the fundamental form of cosmic energy to express the Vorticists' search for a new dynamism in their art. Jacob Epstein, William Roberts, and Christopher Nevison were also closely associated with Vorticism in sculpture and painting. The movement's most characteristic literary manifestation is Lewis's futuristic play ‘Enemy of the Stars’, which appeared in the first issue of Blast; it also contained a number of poems and a ‘Vortex’ by Pound, Ford Madox Ford's ‘The Saddest Story’, which eventually formed part of his The Good Soldier (1915), Rebecca West's story ‘Indissoluble Matrimony’, and a series of photographic illustrations of works by Vorticist artists. The magazine's most remarkable feature was its lengthy introductory section of provocative manifestos and typographically experimental lists under the reiterated headings ‘BLAST’, ‘CURSE’, and ‘BLESS’; the many targets of its excecrations included ‘The BRITANNIC AESTHETE/cream of the snobbish earth’ and ‘the years 1837 to 1900’; among the blessed were ‘the vast planetary abstraction of the OCEAN’ and ‘the HAIRDRESSER for correcting the grotesque anachronisms of our physique’. Further radical attacks on the cultural status quo were made in Lewis's extensive ‘Vorteces and Notes’. Blast and Vorticism, which, although defunct as a movement by 1916, have seminal importance in British Modernism, are considered at length in Timothy Materer's Vortex: Pound, Eliot, and Lewis (1979). See also Futurism.

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