“Am I a Vorticist ?”: Re-Reading Rebecca West’s “Indissoluble Matrimony” and BLAST

In: BLAST at 100
Author: Kathryn Laing

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The contradictions implied by Lewis’s title, BLAST, at once destructive explosion and originary moment, conjure the image of a literary “Big Bang”. This sets the scene for the critical approach of this essay to Rebecca West’s story, “Indissoluble Matrimony”, and its fittingly uneasy fit in its BLAST contexts. The essay attends to the theme and metaphor of genesis, textual and contextual origins, and the idea of creative explosion. This includes discussion of West’s contributions to Dora Marsden’s The Freewoman/New Freewoman and her early fiction experiments. It also argues for a more careful consideration of intersections between Lewis’s artworks and West’s prose of this period, surfacing further possible reasons for its inclusion in BLAST. The essay concludes with an analysis of how the story simultaneously acknowledges and subverts its debts to feminist and literary models and a reconsideration of the story in its “bibliographic environment”.