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From Minstrels to the Machine
Edited by John Coyle
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Categories: 20th Century, British, Memoirs
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (320 pages)
(Pub. Jun 2009)
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(Pub. Jun 2009)
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Try then to figure for yourself blood-red cliffs in to which a blue, shining mirror should have introduced itself for miles... the multicoloured boats grouped at the landing, the incredible blue of the sky, the incredible whiteness of the light... And a salad in a dish as large as a cart-wheel. And sweet cream cheese, with a sauce made of marc and other sweet herbs. And a pile, large enough to bury a man in, of apples, peaches, figs, grapes...
Ford Madox Ford spent his last years in the south of France, near Toulon. In Provence (1935), written four years before his death, he explores both the place and the idea of it: 'not a country nor the home of a race, but a frame of mind'. Suffused with a northern European's love for 'the Roman province that lies beneath the sun', Provence evokes scents of rosemary and thyme in the dry air, games of boules amid shadows of ancient ruins, the food and flinty local wines. Part memoir, part travel narrative, part history of the region, Provence displays Ford's wise, beguiling curiosity. Humorous, informed digressions take in the Albigensian heresy, bull-fighting, a favourite recipe for bouillabaisse, Henry James and Ellen Terry, the Troubadours and much else. Over the gaiety looms the coming barbarism, the 'fixed bayonets, machine guns, uniforms and arresting fists', against which Ford's Provence is a fragile, precious hope for civilised values.
This edition is based on the authoritative 1935 Lippincott edition and includes the original illustrations by Ford's companion, the outstanding American artist Biala.
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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