Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939)

Ford was a modern English novelist of the grandest kind, a man after Jerry's and Emma's own hearts.

"Both The Good Soldier and Parade's End depict the confusion and despair attendant on a long undisturbed English aristocracy upon the arrival of the 20th century . . .

. . . The Good Soldier is narrated by the character John Dowell, one half of one of the two couples whose dissolving relationships form the core of the novel. Dowell tells the stories of those dissolutions, as well as the deaths of three characters and the madness of a fourth, in a rambling, non-chronological fashion that still leaves gaps for the reader to fill. The novel opens with the famous line, 'This is the saddest story I have ever heard.'"

Interestingly enough, these "dissolving relationships" are pulled asunder by a series of overlapping and compounding affairs. The Wikipedia article from which these quotes come gives a useful summary.

In 1908, he founded The English Review, in which he published Thomas Hardy, H.G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, John Galsworthy, and William Butler Yeats and gave debuts to Wyndham Lewis, D.H. Lawrence, and Norman Douglas. In the 1920s, he founded The Transatlantic Review, a journal with great influence on modern literature. Staying with the artistic community in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris, France, he made friends with James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Jean Rhys, all of whom he would publish. In a later sojourn in the United States, he was involved with Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon, Katherine Anne Porter, and Robert Lowell, who was then a student. Despite his deep Victorian roots, Ford was always a champion of new literature and literary experimentation."


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