Ford Madox Ford
(Born Ford Hermann Hueffer; also wrote under the pseudonyms Fenil Haig, Daniel Chaucer, and Baron Ignatz von Aschendrof) English novelist, poet, critic, biographer, historian, essayist, and autobiographer.
The following entry presents criticism of Ford's tetralogy Parade's End. For a discussion of Ford's complete career, see TCLC, Volumes I and 15; for a discussion of his novel The Good Soldier, see TCLC, Volume 39.
A major figure of the Modernist movement in English literature, Ford was a prolific author who produced works in a variety of genres. His fiction is noted for its intricate structure and impressionistic rendering of characters and events. In Parade's End Ford presented his most comprehensive treatment of the dominant theme in his work: social decay and alienation in post-Edwardian England.
Plot and Major Characters
Parade's End comprises four novels: Some Do Not, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up, and The Last Post. The protagonist, Christopher Tietjens, is referred to as "the last Tory," because of his devotion to conservative Edwardian traditions of honor and propriety, despite what appears to be the systematic dismantling of his well-ordered, mannerly world. Annoyed by Tietjens' unflagging desire to do what he believes is right, his wife Sylvia often acts as his nemesis, attempting to destroy his credibility and security through deceitful plots and extramarital affairs. Although in love with the young suffragette Valentine Wannop, Tietjens refuses to compromise his moral principles and marriage vows. In No More Parades and A Man Could Stand Up—, Ford vividly depicts the devastation of war through Tietjens' experiences on the front lines in World War I. As the world of honor he values continues to erode, Tietjens suffers a breakdown and is nursed back to health by Valentine, who finally becomes his lover. The Last Post focuses on Tietjens' adaptation to the new order, represented by Sylvia's destruction of a tree at Tietjens' ancestral home. Symbolic of the conflict between tradition and progress, the felling of Groby Great Tree allows Tietjens to successfully move into the future with Valentine and their unborn child.
Written during the 1920s, Parade's End addresses the moral uncertainties of Ford's times, documenting the sense of disorder, degeneration, and chaos he believed were the fruits of "the first modern war," the end of the Edwardian era, and the emergence of a society notable for its superficiality and rejection of such traditional values as loyalty and personal honor. Through Tietjens, who perseveres in spite of the relentless destruction of all that he values and has labored to protect, Ford suggested that humanity will survive political and social upheaval.
Critics are divided on the question of whether the Tietjens series should be considered a tetralogy with four separate but equal elements, as supported by commentators Neil D. Isaacs, Robie Macauley, and William Carlos Williams, or a trilogy with a sequel, the position taken by such critics as Graham Greene and John Meixner. Even those who assert that The Last Post is an essential component of the Tietjens saga conclude that it is structurally inferior to the first three novels. Critics also dispute the function of Sylvia in the series. While some scholars believe she signifies an evil antithesis to Tietjens' values, others argue that she is a necessary impetus to Tietjens' ultimate acceptance of change.
SOURCE: "Ford Madox Ford Adds a Volume to His Epic of the War," in The New York Times Book Review, October 24, 1926, p. 7.
[In the following review of A Man Could Stand Up, Crawford characterizes Ford's Tietiens series as a modern-day epic.]
Ford Madox Ford has now reached the third of his monumental series of novels. There are those who say the epic is a dead form which can never be made to function in such a complicated and rational and disillusioned age as ours. The epic is not dead, for its impulse has surely impelled the setting down, in passionate narrative prose, of the adventures of Christopher Tietjens. If the heartbreaking, quixotic Christopher is not of the stuff of great legends, a sort of contemporary Bayard, with much honest fear and many undeserved reproaches, then there is no heroism left. If the personal and public battles in which Christopher takes part are not action, in the strict epic sense, then contemplation and indecision and irresponsibility have been the lot of the twentieth century. The only point where Mr. Ford may possibly be conceded to have omitted to write an epic in fiction is in his language. The tone of these three novels is not elevated and noble. It is as if men, in a house about to be blown up, knowing that a time fuse has been set, calmly occupy themselves with getting their cigars well lighted and talk of ordinary things in the vernacular of the day....
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SOURCE: "Tietjens Once More," in New York Herald Tribune Books, January 15, 1928, p. 3.
[McFee was an English writer best known for his tales of adventures at sea. In the following excerpt, he offers a mixed review of The Last Post.]
Readers will have this opinion and that about these novels by Mr. Ford. They will be enthusiastic, and they will remain mildly indifferent to a very highly-specialized glamour. But they will all fail to agree with the announcement on the jacket-flaps of The Last Post that the novels deal with the lives of a small group of representative individuals. That word "representative" needs some qualification. Those individuals may be described as interesting and convincing and so on, but with the possible exception of Mark Tietjens, they are not representative English people. They are representative of Tory England only in their intense individuality, in their ability to do odd and shocking things without turning a hair.
Mark Tietjens, brother of the unhappy Christopher, holds the center of the stage in The Last Post. We find him, on page one, stretched out on a pallet beneath a roof of thatch in a Sussex garden on a hill where he can see four counties falling away below him. That is all he can do now—see, hear and think. Near by Christopher is living with Valentine Wannop, who is going to have a baby. They are in the antique furniture business,...
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SOURCE: An introduction to Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford, Alfred A. Knopf, 1950, pp. v-xxii.
[Macauley is an American author and educator. In the following introduction to the first edition of Parade's End, he affirms that the tetralogy should be considered as a single work rather than as four separate novels published together for the first time.]
The year before he died Ford Madox Ford used to walk around the campus at Olivet College like a pensioned veteran of forgotten wars. We took him for a kind of vast, benevolent and harmless Uncle Toby, leaning on his stick in class or sitting in his dark little basement office and wheezing out his stories of Henry James as Toby might have spoken of Marlborough. His books seemed like medals achieved, perhaps, in the Crimea; and we read Auden, Kafka, Evelyn Waugh.
We were no different from the rest of the world. We knew vaguely that his Tietjens books were about the first World War and we suspected that they might be a good enough account of a soldier's disillusioning experiences—but we had read all that before. If any of us went far enough to look at the introductory letter to A Man Could Stand Up—, the third in the series, he would find Ford confirming it:
This is what the late war was like: this is how modern fighting of the organized, scientific type affects the mind. If, for reasons...
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SOURCE: A review of Parade's End in The Yale Review, Vol. XL, No. 1, September, 1950, pp. 189-91.
[Pickrel is an American author, educator, and critic whose reviews have appeared in Commentary, the New York Herald Tribune, and Book Week. In the following excerpt, he suggests that Parade's End reflects Ford's belief that people will attempt to avoid loneliness and isolation at all costs.]
The chief character in Parade's End is Christopher Tietjens, the younger son of a great Yorkshire family, a man who calls himself "the last Tory," who regards himself as a survival of the eighteenth century: a gentleman, a scholar, and (with a landlord's respect for the Biggest Landlord of them all) a Christian. Married to a beautiful, depraved woman whose object in life is to make him miserable, he falls in love with a younger and plainer girl and eventually, after he has served his country well in the First World War, sets up housekeeping with her, in a very humble way.
Ford's admirers have made much of Christopher Tietjens as a man with a code in a codeless society, but in truth this is the least attractive aspect of the story. The code is a shabby one which (for example) demands that a man afford the protection of his great name and wealth to a worthless woman ("a gentleman never divorces") but permits him to expose a far finer woman to the calumny of living...
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SOURCE: "The Story of Ford Madox Ford," in The New York Times Book Review, September 17, 1950, pp. 1, 22.
[Gordon was an American author and educator whose works include The Good Soldier: A Key to the Novels of Ford Madox Ford (1963). In the following excerpt from a review of Parade's End, Gordon contends that the work is best understood from a historical distance.]
Ford's work—the body of it—may be compared to a huge stone cast into a pond; only the water which is displaced by its presence will have intimate contact with the stone, but the tiniest ripple will in time carry its impact to the shore. Ford was the best craftsman of his day; we are only now beginning to realize how widespread and pervasive such a literary influence can be.
The wielder of this powerful influence was born in London in 1873 (he died in 1939), the grandson of the pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown. His youth was thus spent among the Rossettis and their circle. At 17 he published his first book. His international background gave him ready access to the leading literary and artistic movements of his generation: his finest short novel, The Good Soldier (1941), he himself rewrote in French. And, indeed, as John Rodker said of this book, it is the greatest French novel in English.
Breadth of view, immense knowledge of many literatures, and an unwavering loyalty to his...
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SOURCE: "Ford's Masterpiece Now Reappears," in New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, October 1, 1950, p. 4.
[Morris was an American biographer, critic, social historian, essayist, and pioneering educator who is credited with introducing contemporary literature courses to the American university system in the 1920s. In the following review of Parade's End, he suggests that Ford is the literary equal of James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and Franz Kajka.]
Here, finally presented as its author wished, is one of the major English novels of the twentieth century. Parade's End brings together four books by Ford Madox Ford, first published between 1924 and 1928, and long out of print: Some Do Not …; No More Parsdes; A Man Could Stand Up and The Last Post. Issued separately and at intervals, these books were read as a series of novels having the same central characters and a common theme. But Ford intended them to be read as a unit. The single massive novel which he conceived is now offered under the title he chose for it. Parade's End gives us—for the first time in its organic unity—his greatest achievements.
Ford died in 1939 at the age of sixty-six. Readers who were then middle-aged remembered him as a very distinguished writer and a remarkable literary figure. He was the contemporary of Joyce, Proust and Kafka, but he had won no fame comparable...
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SOURCE: "Christopher Tietjens: His Life and Times," in The New Yorker, Vol. XXVI, No. 32, October 7, 1950, pp. 126, 129-30.
[An American novelist, biographer, and critic, Basso is best known for Sun in Capricorn (1942), a novel which, like much of his work, explores the societal structure and cultural mores of the American South. In the following review of Parade's End, he calls the tetralogy "a minor performance," asserting that Ford was unable to create a convincing portrait of a politically conservative character.]
Parade's End, by Ford Madox Ford, is an omnibus collection of four books that make up a single novel, along with an introduction by Robie Macauley. The titles of the books, as they originally appeared, over a period of five years (1924-28), are Some Do Not…, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up—, and The Lost Post. The author, who died in 1939 and who was one of the younger members of the generation of writers that included Joseph Conrad, Henry James, Stephen Crane, and H. G. Wells, built his novels around a central character named Christopher Tietjens. The time encompassed was the period of the First World War—before, during, and immediately after.
When the Tietjens novels were first published, they were regarded collectively by many as being in the same category as What Price Glory? and All Quiet on the Western...
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SOURCE: A review of Parade's End, in Shenandoah, Vol. 1, No. 3, Winter, 1950, pp. 29-36.
[In the following essay, Tobyansen offers a thematic overview of Parade's End and discusses the novel's principal characters.]
Parade's End is a single volume containing four of Ford's earlier novels, Some Do Not, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up and The Last Post, and an introduction by Robie Macauley. The four novels, published originally over a five-year period (1924-1928), achieved only brief popularity. When they first appeared, they were considered as merely another group of "war novels." In the Knopf volume they appear as what they should be—one great novel—titled Parde's End, The whole volume is an accurate presentation of the personal and univeral histories of several people and a country in the years immediately before, during, and after the first great war. This was a period in which tradition, the British moral aristocracy, was perishing due to the strains imposed by modernism, the new statism, while both elements were at the same time allied in fighting a devastating war.
Tradition is wounded and then dies before the sniping power of modernism. The pathos of tradition's death is that modernism's weapons are usually being aimed by opportunists. Christopher Tietjens, the epitome of landed aristocracy, bends slowly before the fire of...
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SOURCE: "Parade's End," in Selected Essays of William Carlos Williams, Random House, 1954, pp. 315-23.
[Williams was one of America's most renowned poets of the twentieth century. Rejecting as overly academic the Modernist poetic style established by T S. Eliot, he sought a more natural poetic expression, endeavoring to replicate the idiomatic cadences of American speech. In the following essay, which was first published in 1951, he focuses on the significance of Sylvia in the transition of Christopher Tietjens throughout the novel, and suggests that Tietjens is not "the last Tory," but rather the first of a new, more enlightened generation of Englishmen.]
Every time we approach a period of transition someone cries out: This is the last! the last of Christianity, of the publishing business, freedom for the author, the individual! Thus we have been assured that in this novel, Parade's End, we have a portrait of the last Tory. But what in God's name would Ford Madox Ford be doing writing the tale of the last Tory? He'd far rather have tied it into black knots.
In a perfectly appointed railway carriage, two young men of the British public official class, close friends, are talking quietly together. Back of their minds stands Great Groby House, the Tietjens' family seat, in Yorkshire, the north of England—its people, neighbors, and those associated with them just prior to...
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SOURCE: "Tietjens and the Tradition," in The Pacific Spectator, Vol. 6, No. 1, Winter 1952, pp. 23-32.
[In the following essay, Firebaugh contends that Parade's End is best read as an allegory. ]
Now that the extraordinary tetralogy, Parade's End, has been republished, we ought to reconsider it in the light of the message which Ford Madox Ford meant it to convey. For he did intend the "Tietjens Saga" to teach a lesson, although he was too much a product of his post-pre-Raphaelite times not to feel that he sinned against his literary gods by that intention. The meaning of the novels, however, is so much richer than his avowed purpose of denouncing warfare that he can have offended only the most dogmatic worshipers of artistic purposelessness.
The Tietjens cycle deals with the second decade of this century as those years were lived by Christopher Tietjens, "the last Tory." It is of some historical interest that in creating Christopher, Ford had in mind one Arthur Marwood, with whose financial help the English Review had been founded under Ford's editorship. Ford's literary achievement consists in his making of Tietjens and his circle a subtle allegory of social decay and reform. This he does through a story of personal disintegration and recovery which, both for technical accomplishment and allegorical treatment of a typical human situation, demands its place with the...
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SOURCE: "The Political Sense of Ford Madox Ford," in The New Republic, Vol. 134, No. 13, March 26, 1956, pp. 17-19.
[Walter is an American author and educator. In the following essay, he disputes the critical opinion that a well-crafted novel cannot be a political novel, citing Parade's End as an example of both.]
Ultimately, when critics write about Ford Madox Ford, they write about his technique, and since he is, if anything, a virtuoso of the well-made novel, it is appropriate that they insist on this side of his work. Still, in Paade's End, the Tietjens tetralogy (Some Do Not … ;No More Parades; A Man Could Stand Up—; The Last Post), he is also a political novelist.
This aspect is obscured by some of his admirers who make a fastidious effort to preserve the concept of the well-made novel from political defilement.
Facile conclusions have been drawn from this position, leading to a Manichaean view of the novel that conceives form and life as somehow antithetical and also implies a denigration of the concept of politics. The conception is not to be taken lightly, for, as Lionel Trilling has warned, "Unless we insist that politics is imagination and mind, we will learn that imagination and mind are politics, and of a kind that we will not like."
The well-made novel and the political novel are not mutually...
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SOURCE: "The Tietjens Tetralogy," in Ford Madox Ford, Longmans, Green & Co., 1956, pp. 28-35.
[Young is an English author and editor whose works include book-length studies of D. H. Lawrence and Ford Madox Ford. In the following excerpt, he focuses attention on the characters of Parade's End and their function in what he considers to be Ford's melancholy treatment of society in transition.]
To pass from [Ford's novel] The Good Soldier to [his] Parade's End is to emerge from a room heavy with discharged passion into a city street full of vivid personalities. Up they pop like freshly painted jack-in-the-boxes: 'Breakfast' Duchemin, so called from his habit of giving lavish morning parties, the rich, cultivated parson who breaks without warning into loathsome Latin obscenities…'09 Morgan, the Welsh private in the trenches whose wife has run off with a pugilist‧ The sly, snobbish Macmaster rising suavely in the civil service and to a wartime knighthood for literary services … The Old Squire of Groby, master of vast acres, whose gardener lays out his filled pipes in the bushes every morning, for he is not allowed to smoke in the house … Lord Portscatho, the banker, whose world crumbles when one of his officials uses his position to injure an enemy … Miss Wanostrocht, the headmistress, 'her little fingers hooked together, the hands back to back: a demoded gesture … Girton...
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SOURCE: "Ford Madox Ford and the Tietjens Fulfillment," in The Lock Haven Review, No. 1, 1959, pp. 58-65.
[Issacs in an American author and educator. In the following essay, he contrasts Parade's End with The Good Soldier, evaluating the two works based on Ford's own criteria as a literary critic.]
In the dedicatory letter to an American edition of The Good Soldier (1915), Ford Madox Ford says that he put into that novel everything he knew of the technical art of writing. He also says that he expects to be considered homo unius libri and that The Good Soldier is the one book. Elsewhere he claims that The Last Post (1928) was no more than an afterthought to the first three Tietjens books, Some Do Not (1924), No More Parades (1925), and A Man Could Stand Up (1926). These statements are mentioned first in order to get them out of the way. They are all equally untrue. The novels themselves refute them. Moreover, the testimony of all who knew Ford is that anything he might say at any time could be untrue. The truth is that Parade's End must be considered as a single aesthetic entity and that it is patently and demonstrably superior in many ways to the earlier, slighter work.
Two basic ideas went into everything Ford wrote, one aesthetic and one moral. The aesthetic idea is twofold, consisting of the importance of...
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SOURCE: "A Diamond of Pattern: The War of F. Madox Ford," in The Sewanee Review, Vol. LXX, No. 3, Summer, 1962, pp. 464-83.
[Gordon was an American author and educator. In the following essay, he offers a structural and thematic overview of No More Parades, the second novel of the Tietjens tetralogy.]
How we find any writer is so often a matter of where we first came in—of how we first encountered him, with what expectations and hopes. In the case of Ford Madox Ford there are over sixty wrong places for a first encounter and there is perhaps only one right one, since, as Ford knew, first impressions stick. The beginning reader should probably not begin with "This is the saddest story I have ever heard." Nor even with "The two young men—they were of the English public official class—sat in the perfectly appointed railway carriage." There is a better spot than either of these—another window that opens onto more of the garden.
Here as elsewhere, chance has something to be said for it as a guide. It was perhaps actually a slight advantage back when the novels that make up Parade's End were as yet uncollected, when The Good Soldier was still out of print—indeed when almost all Ford's books were out of print. One then read what came his way, hit or miss, and with a minimum of prejudice. The official opening of Parade's End, the first scene of Some Do...
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SOURCE: "Tietjens, the Great War, and England," in Ford Madox Ford's Novels: A Critical Study, University of Minnesota Press, 1962, pp. 190-256.
[Meixner is an American author and educator. In the following excerpt, he analyzes Some Do Not, the first of the four Tietjens novels, and asserts that Parade's End should be considered a trilogy with a sequel rather than a tetralogy.]
The four novels of the Tietjens series, although published separately, have in recent years been gathered together under the comprehensive title of Parade's End. But should Ford's work be considered, in fact, as a tetralogy? Or is it more accurately a trilogy, with The Last Post as sequel? Robie Macauley, in his introduction to Parade's End, has supported the first position, urging that the four should be considered as one book: "I think it can be comprehended in no other way.… Without The Last Post, the novel would have been sadly truncated." Acknowledging that the work could never "turn out" as an ordinary novel must, he asserts that the recapitulation and final statement of The Last Post are "indispensable." Support for Macauley's position, which he himself does not cite, may be found in the epistolary dedications to the books, in which Ford declares his structural intention. After observing, in the introduction to No More Parades, that his protagonist had been...
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SOURCE: "Parade's End," in Ford Madox Ford: From Apprentice to Craftsman, Wesleyan University Press, 1964, pp. 112-74.
[In the following excerpt, Ohmann compares Parade's End with The Good Soldier.]
More obviously than The Good Soldier, the four novels Some Do Not … (1924), No More Parades (1925), A Man Could Stand Up— (1926) and The Last Post (1928)—all republished in the United States in 1950 as Parade's End—are the culmination of Ford's efforts to record and to evaluate the life of his times. In their breadth of scene and their length, these novels are reminiscent of Victorian and Edwardian social realism. They present a picture of England, particularly of upper-class England, on the brink of World War I, in the trenches of the Western Front, and in the uneasy peace that followed the Treaty of Versailles.
Parade's End covers a more ambitious range of affairs than The Good Soldier, and it is a frankly intellectual work. It offers numerous passages of reflection, of discussion, of argument not only about men and women—the relationship which Dowell calls "the first thing in the world"—but also about English finance, politics, social reform, and the conduct of the war in Westminster and in Flanders and France. And where The Good Soldier works by implication, Parade's End is often...
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SOURCE: "Retrospect II: Fiction," in Heroes' Twilight, second edition, The Macmillan Press Ltd., 1980, pp. 171-97.
[In the following excerpt Bergonzi discusses the effects of World War I as presented in Parade's End.]
Parde's End is a trilogy or a tetralogy, depending on whether one accepts the final volume, Last Post, as an integral part of the total design. The first section, Some Do Not, came out in 1924, No More Parades in 1925, and A Man Could Stand Up in 1926. Last Post appeared in 1928; it seems that Ford wrote it because of the importunate desire of a woman friend to know what happened to his characters, and a few years later he virtually disowned it, saying that if the work was ever to appear in a single volume he would like it to do so as a trilogy. In fact, the one-volume American edition of 1950 included all four volumes; the recent Bodley Head reprint was restricted to three. Last Post is, indisputably, very different in tone and technique from the first three volumes of the sequence: it represents a certain desire on Ford's part to tie up loose ends, and at the same time to adopt a radically different mode of narration. Ford's critics are very much at variance about the place of Last Post in the sequence: Robie Macauley and Richard Cassell believe that it is essential to round off the work; whereas John Meixner has argued...
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SOURCE: "Parade's End," in The Life and Work of Ford Madox Ford, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1965, pp. 170-90.
[An American author and educator whose publications include well-received biographies of Ford, Raymond Chandler, James Jones, and John O'Hara, MacShane has specialized in studies of the so-called "stepchildren of literature. "MacShane's works combine narrative and critical insight in an effort to rescue some relatively forgotten authors from what he considers their undeserved obscurity. In the following excerpt, he examines form and technique in Parade's End.]
Parade's End is an immensely suggestive panoramic novel that at the same time provides a profound psychological analysis of a small number of human beings. Superficially, it has much in common with Vanity Fair and, in so far as it presents a study of the war between the sexes against a background of rising and falling social classes, it resembles Proust's A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. Yet comparison with these books or even with Joyce's Ulysses succeeds only in placing it in a class of literature. The success of Parade's End depends on Ford's skill in combining the intimate psychological techniques of James with a large social framework. This milieu is itself original in the sense that while the ordinary nineteenth-century novel seems to present an apparently static society with only an...
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SOURCE: "Tietjens' Travels: Parade's End as Comedy," in Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 16, No. 2, April, 1970, pp. 85-95.
[In the following essay, Kennedy identifies comedic elements in Parade's End.]
One can easily see Tietjens as a model of integrity, of morality, of pre-Edwardian honour and Christian long-suffering; as an innocent who is the victim of "an old bitch gone in the teeth." The ease of such a vision may be an indication that it is the best, most correct reaction to Parade's End. One need not, certainly, be always looking for complications. Tietjens' story does appear to have a direct simplicity, and one cannot be too far wrong in saying that Ford approved more of Tietjens' integrity than he did of the "lachrymose polygamy" of such moderns as Rossetti and McMaster.
In contrast, though, to a view which sees Tietjens as a tragic victim of a decaying society, one must remember the immense comic spirit which informs the whole of the work. I do not disagree that Parade's End sounds a note of regret for the passing of a way of life which so emphasized public virtue. But surely, Ford's regret for Victorianism-Edwardianism is of the same type as Swift's "lament" over the fact that we cannot all be as reasonable as Houyhnhnms. Swift seems to say that it would of course be desirable if we could establish the reign of reason in the affairs of men. But, after...
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SOURCE: "The Last Victorian Novel: Technique and Theme in Parade's End," in Twentieth Century Literature Vol. 18, No. 4, October, 1972, pp. 271-84.
[In the following essay, Heldman contends that the progression of the fiction techniques used in the four novels in Parade's End represents the transition from Victorian to modern writing.]
In a letter to Percival Hinton in 1931, Ford Madox Ford wrote: "I think the Good Soldier is my best book technically unless you read the Tietjens books as one novel in which case the whole design appears." The most complete description of that "whole design" had appeared in his 1925 dedication of No More Pardes to William Bird: "Some Do Not—of which this one is not so much a continuation as a reinforcement—showed you the Tory at home during war-time; this shows you the Tory going up the line. If I am vouchsafed health and intelligence for long enough I propose to show you the same man in the line and in the process of being reconstructed." Though Ford himself was later contradictory and inconsistent about whether Parade's End should be a trilogy or a tetralogy, critics now generally agree that it should be seen as a four-novel sequence and that The Lost Post, the final novel, is a necessary and appropriate conclusion to it.
Ford's version of the conception of the Tietjens novels suggests that he...
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SOURCE: "The Denuded Place: War and Form in Parade's End and U.S.A. "in The First World War in Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Holger Klein, The Macmillan Press Ltd., 1976, pp. 193-209.
[An English man of letters, Bradbury is best known as the author of such satiric novels as Eating People Is Wrong (1959) and Stepping Westward (1965). In the following excerpt from his comparative examination of post-World War I epic novels, Bradbury suggests that Ford juxtaposed in Parade's End Edwardian realism with Modernist experimental techniques to demonstrate the passing of Tietjens' way of life.]
Parade's End is the culmination of Ford Madox Ford's achievement, rivalled only by his novel of 1915, The Good Soldier, not directly about the war. But it came late in a long, mixed career; Ford—then Ford Madox Hueffer—had been writing since the turn of the century. An exemplary Edwardian novelist, he had steadily oscillated between the claims of liberal realism and experimentalism. He collaborated with Conrad, wrote historical novels, like The Fiftb Queen, and novels of contemporary political and social life (The Inheritors, A Call, etc.): novels in different ways devoted to the 'Condition of England' question central to the fiction of the day, and to its predominant theme, of the movement from the older, caring world to the new world of...
(The entire section is 3329 words.)
SOURCE: "Parade's End," in Ford Madox Ford, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1977, pp. 94-123.
[Stang is an American writer and editor specializing in the study and criticism of the works of Ford Madox Ford. In the following excerpt, she provides an overview of Parade's End, focusing particularly on the symbolism of the main characters and their interactions with one another.]
Parade's End is, of course, a "war novel"—really an antiwar novel, Ford called it, for he intended to show "what war was like" without overstating its physical horrors. W. H. Auden called Parde's End a "four-volume study of Retribution and Expiation"; Graham Greene read it as a book about the power of a lie. These themes are present, but they are lesser themes. As Robie Macauley has pointed out, Ford's book is really "more about our own world than his"; Ford wrote prophetically about the world he saw and understood. Pade's End is about historical change; its theme, most inclusively stated, is the great and irreversible change in human consciousness that took place when the shift from the civilization of the nineteenth century to that of the modern world as we know it occurred under the stress of World War I.
The complicated story of Paade's End tells itself in a series of images. At the center is the triangle composed of Christopher Tietjens, the main character; his...
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SOURCE: "Ford's Modern Romance," in The New York Review of Books, Vol. XXVI, No. 18, November 22, 1979, pp. 31-2.
[A highly respected American literary critic, Kazin is best known for his essay collections The Inmost Leaf (1955) and Contemporaries (1962), and particularly for On Native Grounds (1942), a study of American prose writing since the era of William Dean Howells. In the following review of the first paperback edition of Parade's End, which appeared more than fifty years after the four novels of the tetralogy were originally published, Kazin examines Romantic elements in Parade's End.]
Parade's End, Ford Madox Ford's tetralogy, revolves around Christopher Tietjens, "the last British Tory," a Yorkshire gentleman of ancient family and impeccable instincts whose dazzling, promiscuous wife is so enraged by his perfection that she tries for almost nine hundred pages to destroy him. It is a prodigiously fluent and inventive fiction that is no less captivating for being such a vibrant representation of Ford Madox Ford's absurd mind. (It is now being published for the first time in a single paperback.)
Obviously there is less difficulty in creating a subtle, very long, and even exemplary social novel out of characters and situations that are often comically unbelievable if you live deeply enough in your own myth, your favorite fancy of...
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SOURCE: "Living as Ritual in Parade's End," in Studies in the Literary Imagination, Vol. XIII, No. 1, Spring, 1980, pp. 43-50.
[Page is an English author, editor, and educator whose works include studies of Thomas Hardy, Henry James, and D. H. Lawrence. In the following essay, he examines Ford's treatment of ritual and conformity as hallmarks of social stability in Parade's End.]
Certain novelists, in common with many of us who are not novelists, betray an addiction, usually unconscious, to certain words or turns of phrase; and in them, as in us, the reiteration may be more than a trivial mannerism—may, indeed, offer an insight, through a tiny verbal crack in the fence, into central preoccupations or obsessions. I do not think, for example, that any of Arnold Bennett's critics has pointed to his fondness for two words, one of them very unusual and the two of them in conjunction highly suggestive as to his individual vision and method as a writer of fiction. Dailiness seems to convey a sense of boring but reassuring routine, of the pattern or ritual of repeated actions which make up an individual life; mystical (somewhat loosely used by Bennett), a contrasting and complementary sense of life's unpredictability, of the unguessedat lurking just behind the humdrum. Less readily accounted for, but no less striking, is D. H. Lawrence's repeated use of vague, vaguely, vagueness,...
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Braybrooke, Neville. "The Walrus and the Windmill: A Study of Ford Madox Ford." The Sewanee Review 74 (1966): 810-31.
Considers the marital and extra-marital relationships of Ford's protagonists within the context of the sexual mores and political climate of late Victorian England.
Gordon, Ambrose, Jr. The Invisible Tent: The War Novels of Ford Madox Ford. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964, 153 p.
Study of Parade's End and three other novels Ford wrote.
Gose, Elliott B., Jr. "Reality to Romance: A Study of Ford's Parade's End." College English 17, No. 8 (May 1956): 445-50.
Traces the biographical origins of Christopher Tietjens in the lives of Ford and his friend Arthur Marwood.
Griffiths, Marlene. "A Double Reading of Parade's End." Modern Fiction Studies 9, No. I (Spring 1963): 25-38.
Analysis of Parade's End focusing on what the critic calls the novel's balanced treatment of "the world of social experience (external reality) and the world of personal sensibility (internal reality)."
Henighan, T. J. "Tietjens Transformed: A Reading of Parade's End." English Literature in Transition 15, No. 2 (1972): 144-57.
Comprehensive reading of the novel focusing on Ford's dramatization of Christopher Tietjens'...
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