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Return To Yesterday
Edited by Bill Hutchings
Categories: 20th Century, British, Memoirs, War writings
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
(Pub. Aug 1999)
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(Pub. Aug 1999)
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So, if one can keep oneself out of it, one may present a picture of a sort of world and time.
Ford Madox Ford can never quite keep out of it. The more self-effacing he seems, the more his the writing becomes: scenes of preternatural clarity.
'Memory doesn't work like that,' said one critic. Well, Ford's does. 'Truth to the impression' was his aim. How it seemed, how memory took it in, is more alive than how it 'actually' was, whatever that means. Memory is for Ford as for Wordsworth re-creation. His memoirs have the authority of fiction because they are half way between fiction and fact.
Return to Yesterday (1931), his most fascinating memoir, follows on Ancient Lights and covers the years from 1894 to the outbreak of World War I - his transition from privileged godson of the Pre-Raphaelites to the great Modern writer and editor he became. Here he evokes England at large, and London in particular, its literary community, the political world of anarchists (the world of his friend Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent). If the Rossettis, Ford Madox Brown, Swinburne and Morris gave their blessing to his youth, it was Pound and Lawrence, Joyce and Rhys, who were blessed by his maturity. C.H. Sisson writes: 'Ford remains a profound influence on the poetry as on the prose of the century, for he found English literature poetical and left it spare.'
Praise for Ford Madox Ford 'what Ford conveys above all is less his particular preference than his radical passion for the novel as an instrument and what can be done with it.'
C.H. Sisson 'It displays Ford's dedication to his art; it demonstrates, also, the possibilities of English prose in the hands of a master.'
Peter Ackroyd, The Sunday Times 'The Rash Act ought to be bought and read by all interested in the novel as an art form... The action takes place in the French South which Ford loved, but man no longer sustains the tradition of myth and history which that region once represented... Here in The Rash Act we have the death of morality and responsibility - a forbidding theme, but, in the paradox of art, it is made to serve a tapestry of rich colour and galloping vivacity.'
Anthony Burgess, Observer 'No Enemy is Ford Madox Ford's little-known First World War novel, musing and reflective, published for the first time in Britain by Carcanet and ably edited by Paul Skinner. Congratulations to them both.'
Alan Judd, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday 30th June 2002 'Of the various demands... that he show us the way in which a society works, that he show an understanding of the human heart, that he create characters in 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 craftmanship, there is not one, it seems to me, that Ford does not completely satisfy.'
W. H. Auden
'Ford Madox Ford's Parad's End, arguably the most sophisticated British fiction to come out of that war. Carcanet's reissue of the first volume, Some Do Not (£18.95), is the first reliable text, reconstructing Ford's dramatic original ending. Brilliantly edited by Max Saunders and now to be filmed (scripted by Tom Stoppard), it deserves to be and will be better known.'
Alan Judd, Books of the Year 2010, The Spectator.'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.'
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