Ford Madox Ford

Ford Madox Ford

Ford Madox Ford

Ford Madox Ford

Excerpt

FORD MADOX FORD, who was born Hueffer, is one of those writers who come late into their heritage. Robert Lowell, the American poet, inquired in a poem about him:

But Master, mammoth mumbler, tell me why
The bales of your left-over novels buy
Less than a bandage for your gouty foot.

The answers to that question will perhaps become apparent in the course of this essay. But today increasingly we find mentions of him as 'that neglected writer'; his work is receiving recognition in wireless programmes; and The Good Soldier and his great Tietjens tetralogy, Some Do Not , No More Parades , A Man Could Stand Up , and Last Post (conveniently known in the United States under the omnibus title Parade's End ) have been republished in the popular Penguin series.

His output was large, ranging from poetry to history, biography, criticism and novels, and it was uneven. I can discuss in detail only The Good Soldier , the tetralogy and the Tudor trilogy ( Fifth Queen , Privy Seal , and Fifth Queen Crowned ); but some others of his novels--for example, The Rash Act and When the Wicked Man... --are of fine quality, while his volumes of memoirs and discursive works are as highly organized art as his fiction, and as entertaining.

He has been called a writer's writer; he had a deep insight into the techniques of composition, and his views influenced men so widely separated by time and nature as Ezra Pound and Joseph Conrad, and, at the other end of his life Ernest Hemingway, Allen Tate and Robie Macaulay. But the solid and subtle construction of his best books makes them fresh and attractive also to the general reader when many better-known works by Ford's contemporaries begin to seem dated and stale.

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