- The Saddest Tory
Ford Madox Ford has always been a shifting, elusive figure in the modernist group photo, difficult to take in at a glance. His centrality to Anglo-American modernism as novelist, critic, poet, and editor is not in doubt, but the multiplicity of his roles, the generic heterogeneity of his oeuvre, and the very longevity of his involvement with the modern movement have made him harder to categorize and evaluate than other figures of comparable eminence. In recent years, and especially since the publication of Max Saunders’s definitive biography in 1996, the terrain vague of Ford’s eclectic literary persona has been redeveloped as a happy hunting ground for the new modernist studies, with his activities as, for example, impressionist sociologist and wartime propagandist coming to join his editorship of the English Review and the transatlantic review as key quadrants in the enlarged map of modernism.1 Ford’s tetralogy about the First World War and its epiphenomena, described by William Carlos Williams as “the English prose masterpiece of their time,” is by no means uncharted territory in the same sense, either for scholars or for readers.2 But it has never existed before in a corrected [End Page 799] and annotated text, and Carcanet’s excellent four-volume edition paves the way for a new wave of reconsiderations of Ford’s postwar masterpiece.
This edition gives the reader of Parade’s End numerous advantages she has not previously enjoyed. At once the most obvious and the most easily overlooked of these is the division of the series into four separate volumes. This is of course how the novels were originally published between 1924 and 1928, but they have not been in print separately since 1948, so most contemporary readers will have ploughed through a single-volume omnibus edition as I did. Convenient in some ways, these editions omit Ford’s interesting dedicatory letters to each book and tend to obscure the formal autonomy of the individual novels, which were always designed to work as stand-alone units (unlike, for example, the volumes that make up In Search of Lost Time). The Carcanet edition also gives new options to undergraduate course designers wishing to represent the Tietjens novels on a syllabus without assigning the whole tetralogy.
The new edition was set in motion when one of the four editors, Joseph Wiesenfarth, was alerted by a colleague that the Hemingway papers at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library in Boston appeared to contain a Ford manuscript. This document turned out to be a previously unknown typescript of No More Parades (1925), completing the set of one surviving manuscript per volume (in the author’s hand in the case of Some Do Not. . ., typed with autograph revisions for the other three volumes). In the absence of witnesses other than these manuscripts, the editors have taken the UK first edition as the copy text, intervening in the case of unambiguous errors and where the manuscript can be taken with reasonable certainty to be a better reflection of Ford’s intention. The selective textual notes signal alterations to the copy text as well as commenting on significant revisions and deletions made in the manuscript, shedding light on Ford’s habits of composition. For the less assiduous reader, useful summaries of these habits and of the artistic significance of certain revisions are provided in the introductions, drawing attention to, for example, instances where Ford went back and amplified the novel’s thematic matrix with handwritten additions.3 This textual apparatus is complemented by admirably comprehensive informational notes, elucidating Ford’s prolific biblical, classical, historical, literary, and topical allusions, decoding Edwardian slang and regional dialects, glossing recondite vocabulary, and pointing out...