Monday, March 08, 2010

Parade's End

Mel u at The Reading Life and I will be reading Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford starting in April. I've had the Carcanet Press version sitting next to the bed for over a year and I can't take the procrastination any more.

Feel free to comment as we tackle the four books. If you post about any of the books, be sure to let us know--we'll be happy to link to it (or if you already have a post, I'll be happy to include that as well). I'll include a quote from the Carcanet Press website (although please choose any version of the book you like):
Of the various demands one can make of the novelist, that he show us the way in which a society works, that he show an understanding of the human heart, that he create characters whose reality we believe and for whose fate we care, that he describe things and people so that we feel their physical presence, that he illuminate our moral consciousness, that he make us laugh and cry, that he delight us by his craftsmanship, there is not one, it seems to me, that Ford does not completely satisfy. There are not many English novels which deserve to be called great: Parade's End is one of them.

W.H.Auden, 1961

Parade's End is the title Ford Madox Ford gave to his greatest work, the four Tietjens novels which -- in Graham Greene's words -- tell `the terrifying story of a good man tortured, pursued, driven into revolt, and ruined as far as the world is concerned by the clever devices of a jealous and lying wife'. He wanted to see the book printed in one volume: Some Do Not (1924), No More Parades (1925) and A Man Could Stand Up (1926), with his afterthought, The Last Post (1928).

Christopher Tietjens is the last of a breed, the Tory gentleman, which the Great War, a savage marriage to Sylvia, and the qualities inherent in his nature, define and unravel. Here the War's attritions offered no escape from domestic witchcraft. Opposite Tietjens is Macmaster, a Scot, different in class and culture, at once friend and foil. Here Ford's art and his human vision achieve their greatest complexity and subtlety.

No comments: