Parade's End

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This article is about the Ford Madox Ford novels. For the TV adaptation, see Parade's End (TV series).
Parade's End
Author Ford Madox Ford
Country England, United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Historical fiction
Publication date
1924–1928
Media type Print

Parade's End is a tetralogy (four related novels) by the English novelist and poet Ford Madox Ford published between 1924 and 1928. It is set mainly in England and on the Western Front in the First World War, in which Ford had served as an officer in the Welsh Regiment, a life vividly depicted in the novels.

In December 2010, John N. Gray hailed the work as "possibly the greatest 20th-century novel in English".[1] Likewise, Mary Gordon labelled it as "quite simply, the best fictional treatment of war in the history of the novel".[2]

Yet the work, a complex tale written in a modernist style ("it is as modern and modernist as they come"[3]), does not concentrate on detailing the experience of war. Robie Macauley, in his intro to the Borzoi edition of 1950, described it as "by no means a simple warning as to what modern warfare is like...[but] something complex and baffling [to many contemporary readers]. There was a love story with no passionate scenes; there were trenches but no battles; there was a tragedy without a denouement."[4] Instead, the novel focuses on the psychological result of the war on the participants, and on society as a whole. Ford himself, in his introduction to the third novel, A Man Could Stand Up--, wrote, "This is what the late war was like: this is how modern fighting of the organized, scientific type affects the mind."[5]

History[edit]

Ford stated that his purpose in creating this work was "the obviating of all future wars".[6] The four novels were originally published under the titles: Some Do Not ... (1924), No More Parades (1925), A Man Could Stand Up — (1926), and Last Post (or The Last Post in the USA) (1928). They were combined into one volume as Parade's End, which has been ranked at number 57 on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list.[7]

In 2012, HBO, BBC, and VRT produced a television adaptation written by Tom Stoppard and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall.[8]

Plot[edit]

The novels chronicle the life of Christopher Tietjens, "the last Tory", a brilliant government statistician from a wealthy landowning family who is serving in the British Army during the First World War. His wife Sylvia is a flippant socialite who seems intent on ruining him. Tietjens may or may not be the father of his wife's child. Meanwhile, his incipient affair with Valentine Wannop, a high-spirited pacifist and suffragette, has not been consummated, despite what all their friends believe. The two central novels follow Tietjens in the army in France and Belgium, as well as Sylvia and Valentine in their separate paths over the course of the war.

Literary notes[edit]

Notably among war novels, Tietjens' consciousness takes primacy over the war-events it filters. Ford constructs a protagonist for whom the war is but one layer of his life, and not always even the most prominent though he is in the middle of it. In a narrative beginning before the war and ending after the armistice, Ford's project is to situate an unimaginable cataclysm within a social, moral and psychological complexity.

Robie Macauley wrote that "the Tietjens story...is less about the incident of a single war than about a whole era" and its destruction. "Ford took as the scheme for his allegory the life of one man, Christopher Tietjens, a member of an extinct species, which, as he says, 'died out sometime in the Eighteenth century.' Representing in himself the order and stability of another age, he must experience the disruptive present."[9]

The work is also striking in its investigation of the relationship between gender dynamics, war, and societal upheaval. Scholar David Ayers notes that "Parade's End is virtually alone of the male writing of the 1920s in affirming the ascendance of women and advocating a course of graceful withdrawal from dominance for men".[10]

Textual history[edit]

The four novels were reissued separately by Penguin just after the Second World War (in 1948). They were first combined into one volume under the collective title Parade's End (which had been suggested by Ford, though he didn't live to see an omnibus version) in the Knopf edition of 1950, which has been the basis of several subsequent reissues. Graham Greene controversially omitted Last Post from his Bodley Head edition of Ford's writing, calling[11] it "an afterthought which he (Ford) had not intended to write and later regretted having written." Greene went on to state that "...the Last Post was more than a mistake—it was a disaster, a disaster which has delayed a full critical appreciation of Parade's End." Certainly Last Post is very different from the other three novels. It is concerned with peace and reconstruction, and Christopher Tietjens is absent for most of the narrative, which is structured as a series of interior monologues by those closest to him. Yet it has had influential admirers, from Dorothy Parker and Carl Clinton Van Doren to Anthony Burgess and Malcolm Bradbury (who also included it in his 1992 Everyman edition). The first annotated and critical edition of the novels, edited by Max Saunders, Joseph Wiesenfarth, Sara Haslam, and Paul Skinner, was published by Carcanet Press in 2010–11.[12]

Adaptations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "John Gray's New Year's Resolution". New Statesman. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Gordon, Mary (2012). "Book Reviews Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford". Style 46 (1): 112–115. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Barnes, Julian (August 24, 2012). "Julian Barnes: a tribute to Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford". The Guardian (England: Guardian News). Retrieved 062914.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ Macauley, Robie (1950). Introduction to Parade's End; included in the 1950 Borzoi printing of the novel. Alfred A. Knopf. p. vi. 
  5. ^ Ford, Ford Madox (1950). Parade's End; Robie Macauley includes Ford's quote to an earlier edition of the novel in his introduction. Alfred A. Knopf. p. vi. 
  6. ^ Meixner, John. Ford Madox Ford's Novels. p. 213. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Modern Library". Randomhouse.com. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Parade's End". BBC. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Macauley, Robie (1950). Introduction to Parade's End; included in the 1950 Borzoi printing of the novel. Alfred A. Knopf. pp. vi, ix. 
  10. ^ Ayers, David. English Literature of the 1920s. p. 19. 
  11. ^ "The Bodley Head Ford Madox Ford", Volume 3 (1963), Introduction.
  12. ^ "Carcanet Press — Parade's End: Volume I". Carcanet.co.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Barnes and Noble DVD Parades end by BBC Warner". 
  14. ^ Alter, Alexandra (21 February 2013). "TV's Novel Challenge: Literature on the Screen". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

For further discussions of the novels comprising Parade's End see for example:

  • Auden, W. H., "Il faut payer", Mid-Century, no. 22 (Feb. 1961), 3–10.
  • Bergonzi, Bernard, Heroes' Twilight: A Study of the Literature of the Great War, third edition (Manchester: Carcanet: 1996).
  • Bradbury, Malcolm, "Introduction", Parade's End (London: Everyman’s Library, 1992).
  • Brown, Dennis, "Remains of the Day: Tietjens the Englishman", in Ford Madox Ford's Modernity, International Ford Madox Ford Studies, no. 2, ed. Robert Hampson and Max Saunders (Amsterdam and Atlanta, GA.: Rodopi, 2003), 161–74.
  • Calderaro, Michela A., A Silent New World: Ford Madox Ford’s Parade's End (Bologna. Editrice CLUEB [Cooperativa Libraria Universitaria, Editrice Bologna], 1993).
  • Cassell, Richard A., Ford Madox Ford: A Study of His Novels (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1962).
  • Gordon, Ambrose, Jr, The Invisible Tent: The War Novels of Ford Madox Ford (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1964).
  • Gasiorek, Andrzej, "The Politics of Cultural Nostalgia: History and Tradition in Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End", Literature & History, 11:2 (third series) (Autumn 2002), 52–77
  • Green, Robert, Ford Madox Ford: Prose and Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
  • Haslam, Sara, Fragmenting Modernism: Ford Madox Ford, the Novel, and the Great War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002).
  • Hawkes, Rob, Ford Madox Ford and the Misfit Moderns: Edwardian Fiction and the First World War (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
  • Judd, Alan, Ford Madox Ford (London: Collins, 1990)
  • Meixner, John A., Ford Madox Ford's Novels: A Critical Study (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1962).
  • Moser, Thomas C., The Life in the Fiction of Ford Madox Ford (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980).
  • Saunders, Max, Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, 2 volumes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), II.
  • Seiden, Melvin, "Persecution and Paranoia in Parade's End", Criticism, 8:3 (Summer 1966), 246–62.
  • Skinner, Paul, "The Painful Processes of Reconstruction: History in "No Enemy" and "Last Post", in History and Representation in Ford Madox Ford's Writings, ed. Joseph Wiesenfarth, International Ford Madox Ford *Studies, no. 3 (Rodopi: Amsterdam and New York: 2004), 65–75.
  • Tate, Trudi, Modernism, History and the First World War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998).
  • Wiesenfarth, Joseph, Gothic Manners and the Classic English Novel (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1988).
  • Wiley, Paul L., Novelist of Three Worlds: Ford Madox Ford (Syracuse, N. Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1962).