Ford Madox Ford's Literary Contacts
Rodopi, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 271 pages
The controversial British writer Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939) is increasingly recognized as a major presence in early twentieth-century literature. This series of International Ford Madox Ford Studies was founded to reflect the recent resurgence of interest in him. Each volume is based upon a particular theme or issue; and relates aspects of Ford's work, life, and contacts, to broader concerns of his time. The present book is part of a large-scale reassessment of his roles in literary history.
Ford is best-known for his fiction, especially The Good Soldier, long considered a modernist masterpiece; and Parade's End, which Anthony Burgess described as 'the finest novel about the First World War'; and Samuel Hynes has called 'the greatest war novel ever written by an Englishman'. But he was a prolific writer in many different modes, which include criticism of others' writing, and reminiscences of the many writers he had known. One of the most striking features of his career is his close involvement with so many of the major international literary groupings of his time. In the South-East of England at the fin-de-siècle, he collaborated for a decade with Joseph Conrad, and befriended Henry James, and H. G. Wells. In Edwardian London he founded the English Review, publishing these writers alongside his new discoveries, Ezra Pound, D. H. Lawrence, and Wyndham Lewis. After the war he moved to France, founding the transatlantic review in Paris, taking on Hemingway as a sub-editor, discovering another generation of Modernists such as Jean Rhys and Basil Bunting, and publishing them alongside Joyce and Gertrude Stein. He spent more time in America from the later 1920s, spending time with Southern Agrarians, and poets such as William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, and Robert Lowell. He was always a tireless promoter of younger writers, reading manuscripts and recommending them to publishers.
This book takes Ford's 'literary contacts' to include such creative friendships, editorial involvements, and influential biographical encounters; and they form the most substantial, central section on 'Contemporaries and Confrères', covering figures like Proust, Carlos Williams, Rebecca West, Herbert Read, and Hemingway. But it also explores contacts with literary texts. The first section on 'Predecessors' considers the impact of Ford's reading of Trollope, George Eliot, and Turgenev. The final section discusses 'Successors' writers such as Graham Greene, Burgess, and A. S. Byatt, whose literary contacts with Ford have been as his admiring readers and eloquent critics. Ford has been described as 'a writer's writer'. This volume reveals how true that has been, and in how many ways, as it sheds new light on his relationships with other writers, both familiar and surprising. It includes two pieces published here for the first time: one by Ford himself, on Turgenev; the other a memoir about Ford by his contemporary, Marie Belloc Lowndes (the sister of Hilaire Belloc).
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Page 248 - My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel — it is, before all, to make you see.
Page 46 - For who in this world can give anyone a character? Who in this world knows anything of any other heart — or of his own ? I don't mean to say that one cannot form an average estimate of the way a person will behave. But one cannot be certain of the way any man will behave in every case — and until one can do that a "character
Page 44 - It is to be regretted that no mental method of daguerreotype or photography has yet been discovered, by which the characters of men can be reduced to writing and put into grammatical language with an unerring precision of truthful description. How often does the novelist feel, ay, and the historian also and the biographer, that he has conceived within his mind and accurately depicted on the tablet of his brain the full character and personage of a man, and that nevertheless, when he flies to pen...