Impressionism in the novels of Ford Madox Ford


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Impressionism in the novels of Ford Madox Ford
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Rose, Charles Spencer
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June, 1961


The writer is deeply indebted to the chairman of his
supervisory committee, Professor John T. Fain, and to Its
members, Professors Andrew Lytle, Thomas Pyles, Ants Oras.,
and Ashby Hiamond. He also wishes to thank the staff of
the University of Florida library.


THE TUDOR TRILOGY . . . . . . . . . 22
PAAZs E . . . . . . . . . 101

LATE NOVELS . . . . . . . . 142
BIBLIOGPHY.. . o . . .65


Toward the end of his last book, The March of
Literature Ford YAdox Ford returns to one of his favorite
subjects, impressionism in the writing of fiction. In
1938, for an old man mad about writing, it is still a
cause to be championed, and it is a technique that still
invited description. And so, again, for perhaps the last
time, he defends the faith, and promulgates its tenets:
The main and perhaps most passionate tenet
-of impressionism was the suppression of the
author from the pages of his books. He must not
comment; he must not narrate; he must present his
impressions of his imaginary affairs as if he had
been present at them. Thus, the following--
imaginary.-passage from Vanity Fair would not be
Disgusting as we may find it, on crossing
to the window our heroine--whom the reader
must acknowledge to be indeed a gallant
little person--perceived Captain Crawley
and the Marquis of Steyne engaged in a
drunken boxing bout.... 1 But such things
must be when to the moral deterioration of
illicit sex passion is added the infuriating
spur of undue indulgence in alcoholic bever-
But it would have been impressionism had the
author written:
In the street the empurpled leg-of-
mutton fist of a scarlet heavy dragoon

1Since Ford uses spaced dots as punctuation, I shall
use unspaced dots to indicate my own omissions in his quo-
tations and elsewhere.

impinged on the gleaming false teeth of
a reeling bald-headed senior. Becky
screamed as a torrent of dark purple burst
from the marquis' lips to dribble down his
lavender silk waistcoat. That ended, as
she spasmodically recognized, her life of
opulence. The dragoon, an unmoving streak
of scarlet, lay In the gutter, one arm ex-
tended above his unshaked locks.
That would be an impressionist paragraph. It
will be noted that here the author Is invisible
and almost unnoticeable and that his attempt has
been made, above all, to make you see.2
The impressionistic paragraph, Ford hastens to point,,
out, Is not good impressionism, for it lacks an agreeable
and flowing cadence, and it reeks with empurpled writing
(pp. 842-81t3). It has, of course, other limitations, but
the attempt, unsuccessful as it is, has been made. There
is no author ralzing.on the effects of sex and alcohol,
and the reader sees a leg-of-mutton fist, gleaming false
teeth, and an arm extended above unshaked locks.
It was Ford's lifelong contention that the reader will
insist on not seeing anything afflicted with an interfer-
ing author. The suppression of the author from the pages
of his books precedes everything else in Ford' s technical
creed. Ford terms this suppression aloofness.
In The MWlsh Novel discussing Joseph Conrad,
Stephen Crane, and Henry James, all stout impressionists,
Ford remarked that "all three treated their characters

2Vrom Confucius' D&V to Our Time (New York, 1938),
pp. 84M Needlesos-- iay--o Ms taken some liber-
ties with Thackeray, moving the fight between Crawley and
Steyne out to the street#

with aloofness; all three kept themselves, their comments,
and their prejudices out of their works."3 Much earlier,
in Henry J s o A itioal Study. Ford maintains that
James "bestowed his sympathies upon no human being and
upon no cause," that he "remained an observer, passionless
and pitiless . smiling his sardonic smile and exclaim-
ing from time to time: 'Poor dear old world ,' 4 James
belonged to the camp of Flaubert, aupassant, and Conrad.
"That camp proclaimed that a work of art must be a passion-

less rendering of life as it appears to the artist.-"5 The
observations, of course, are not entirely accurate, indi-
cating, as Ford suggests of Conrad, intention rather than
performance (p. 145). None the less, there is at least
some difference in the kind of novel resulting from these
intentions and the kind of novel unleashed by a totally
uninhibited sensibility.
However, Ford admits that temperament cannot be sup-
pressed. As Ford points out in The Enlish Novel not
even Flaubert was able to exclude himself entirely. Al-
though Madame Bova=7 might be described as "the first /
great novel that aimed at aloofness . j it did not

3From the Earliest Days to the Death of Joseph Conrad

4(London, 1918), p. 67.
5Ford Madox Ford, Mightier than the Sword: Memories
and Criticisms (London, 1938)sp ...

succeed in its aim" (p. 135). In the end, Flaubert was
"so fascinated by his Ema that beside her and the In-

genuous weakness of her genuine romanticism every other
character In the book is either hypocritical, mean or
imbecile." Ford goes on to stress that no novelist is
ever entirely passionless or pitiless:
And indeed, all authors being men, it is very
unlikely that the completely aloof novel will ever
see the light. If you want to be a novelist you
must first be a poet and it is impossible to be a
poet and lack human sympathies or generosity of
outlook (ide.).
So James must exclaim "poor dear old world."
None the less, as a sort of provisional safeguard,
aloofness was eminently practicable, for$ in Ford's esti-
mation, the very simple reason that the novel was not about
the novelist but about life exactly as it is, not as the
novelist, or any artist, would wish it.6 And the theory of
the novel's expression held by Ford was that "the story of
a novel should be the history of an Affair...7 It is a
theory Ford never abandoned.
In explaining Ford's conception of an affair, it is
perhaps superfluous to observe that for Ford an affair is
not a novelist's reactions to "sex, wine, music, homo-
sexuality, parents, puritanism, death, life, immortality,

6The Critical Attitude: "E . Contributed

P r i 3t e p vi o n o, 3...s,

TThe e lish Novel, p. 131.

technocracy, communism, and existence among the infinite
flatnesses beneath the suns and tornadoes of the Middle
West or the Mississippi Delta."8 Xt Is not the regurgita-
tion marking periods of Sturm und Ta (idem.). Nor is
an affair a series of episodes negotiated by a hero of
picaresque susceptibilities. Discussing the Spanish mas-
terpiece Celestina i Xr~ h of Literature Ford makes
the following distinction between the rogue novel and the
history of an affair:
In the fact that Celeatina is herself a rogue,
the story might be classed as picaresque, but
it differs from all the other picaresque works,
whether Spanish or English, in that they con-
sist merely of a series of episodes strung
loosely and without sequence or relation round
one central and exceptional figure; but
CelestIna is essentially first a story--the
history of an affair which needs a strong cen-
tral character for its central figure (p. 130).
Ford goes on to say that "the very idea of destiny is ab-
sent from the pages of most picaresque novels" and that
"in Celestina the sense of fate is almost as central a
figure as it is in Aeschylus" (idem.). The history of an
affair, then, unlike the rogue novel, involves, like life,
episodes having sequence and relation. Moreover, the
history of an affair Includes a sense of destiny suffts-
ing both the episodes, and a strong central hero.
Ford is not always so specific. In The English Novel
he implies that an affair is merely a story having a hero

8"Techniques," The Southern Review I (July 1935),

who in fallible (p. 130) and a story which is not fal-
sified (p. 132). In The Ctigal Attitude it is "a
parcel of life, . in which several human beings are
involved" (p. 87).
Taken as a parcel of life, an affair can have the mag-
nitude of an epic. The Iliad and Odyssey. for instance,
deal with "an immense Affair--an imense, almost chemical
reaction between a higher, more luxurious and more aesthetic
civilization from the East, attacking or attacked by a rela-
tively lean, relatively puritanic, relatively, perhaps,
better armed civilization coming from the West."9 Or the
parcel may be the merest nothing In the way of Intrigue or
plot, "no more than a child catching frogs in a swamp or
the emotions of a nervous woman In a thunderstorm."10
Regardless of scale, an affair comprehends "all the his-
tory of the world." At the novelist's disposal are
"heredity, environment, the concatenation of the effects
of the one damn thing after another that life Is--and
Destiny who is blind and august" (idem).
The Justification for the novel of aloofness, then,
is "rendering not the arbitrary felicities of a central
character but the singular normalities of an affair"
(p. 132). The word that begs emphasis here is rendering
for that is the novelist's primary task. "I am interested

9The Mah of Literature# p, 105.
10 he Enlish Novel. p. 147.

only in how to write," Ford says, in Thus To Revisit, "and

* . I care nothing-but nothing in the world$ what a man
writes about. In the end that is the attitude of every

human soul--only they don't know it."l In The Critical

Attitude Ford maintains that the artist's first desire
is "the expression of himself exactly as he is, not as he

would like other people to think him, the expression of his
view of life as it is, not as he would like it to bell

(p. 133).2
Prejudices, ideas* views; all these arbitrary felici-
ties should be sternly controlled if the novelist is to
know the true joy and sorrow of creation. In Joseph Conrad,

A Personal Remembrance, Ford says that "it is obviously
best if you can contrive to be without views at all":13
* your business with the world is render-
ing, not alteration. You have to render life with
such exactitude that more specialized beings than

llsome Reminiscences of Ford Madox Hueffer (London
1921)0 32.
121n the great artist, who, for Ford, was Turgenev,
the two expressions fuse. For "having lived the supremely
great artist who was Turgenev so rendered that not merely--
as was the case with Shakespeare, did he transfuse himself
into all his characters." His characters became "all of
us." Or as Turgenev himself said, in his "Preface" to
Fathers and Children: "The critics, in general, have a
TV Yrom'curate conception of what takes place in an
author's soul, of what, precisely, constitutes his joy
and sorrow$ his aspirations, his success and failure, ...
They will not believe that an author's highest happiness
is to set forth the truth, the reality of life, powerfully
and accurately, even when the truth does not coincide with
his own sympathies" (New York, 1923, p. xv).
13(London, 1924)9 p. 208.

humanity, may judge how many white-tiled bath-
rooms are, or to what extent parliamentary rep-
resentation is, necessary for the happiness of
men and women. If, however, your yearning to
amend the human race is so great that you cannot
possibly keep your fingers out of the watch-
springs there is a device that you can adopt.
Let us suppose that you feel tremendously
strong views as to sexual immorality or temper-
ance. You feel that you must express these, yet
you know that, like, say, M. Anatole France, who
is also a propagandist, you are a supreme novelist.
You must then invent, justify, and set going in
your novel a character who can convincingly ex-
press your viows. If you are a gentleman you will
also invent, justify and set going characters to
express views opposite to those you hold (pp. 208-
Ford is, of course, referring to the novel of reform,
which Ford's own prejudices cause him to deplore. The fact

that "the accepted truth of to-day is the proven lie of

tomorrow," made Ford distrust prophets like Wells, "a poet
fascinated by the aspects, borne away by the emotions of

the moment.,14 No doubt Ford would have distrusted the
utterances of latter day prophets such as John Steinbeck,
in his Grapes of Wrath robes, and he would give secondary

importance to a critical principle like the following:
the not personal compensation but
the alteration of the environment which has pro-
duced the necessity for that compensation--the
evolution and stabilization of a standard in which
society can believe and with reference to which its
activities can be given purpose and meaning and

14The Critical Attitudep p. 102.

15David Daiches, The Novel gnd the Modern World (Chicago,
1929), p. 171.

The novelist, Ford repeats, can only depict the world, "by
voicing the desires and aspirations of his day..16 His

business is rendering, not alteration.

The danger inherent in the imposition of a novelist's

views on his material is, Ford maintains, a vitiation of
his art, and often a vitiation of the cause he desires to

advance. In Joseph Conrad A Personal Remembrance Ford

uses the phrase "over-elaborate the fear felt by a coursed

rabbit" to characterize the excesses of humanitarian propa-
ganda (p. 208). In ightier than the Sword discussing

Galsworthy, he documents this overelaboration. In The

Country House. "having rendered, with all the spirit of a
Tolstoi after his conversion, hhe massacre of game that had
taken place, in order to get the full drama out of the

stupidity and cruelty that obviously distinguished these

barbaric slaughters . he [aasworthy] found it desir-
able to emphasize the note and to describe how 'one poor

little rabbit' crept out into the open to die" (p. 176).

Unfortunately, Ford continues, rabbits do not die In the
open, and so Oalsworthj weakened both his cause and his

novel (p. 177).17

16The Critical Attitude, p. 102.

17To return to the example of Steinbeck, his saga of
the Okies, moving as it is in places, often suffers from
this "overelaboration." At its most extreme, it is re-
flected in the almost beatific administrator of the gov-
ernment camp. Rose of Sharon, Casey, and Tom are not
immune to it.


"Overelaboration" to prove a point, and an "ungentle-
manly" refusal to "sot going characters to express views
opposite to those you hold" (see p. 8), are temptations
seldom overcome by the novelist of reform.
The second stricture imposed by Ford is that the
novelist should never, like Thackeray, "intrude his broken
nose and myopic spectacles.18 Intrusions and digressions
by the author are taboo for the very simple reason that they
will district the reader from the story.19 Thus Thackeray,
reveling in the artificiality of his convention, would
ruin "whole books by their introductions or their last
paragraphs--those last paragraphs in which the real
novelist strains every nerve to add reality to his clos-
ing. ,20 In The Eglish Novel Ford accuses Thackeray of
"the greatest literary crime ever committed" because of
Thackeray's "sudden, apologetic incursion of himself into
his matchless account of Becky Sharp on Waterloo day in
Brussels" (p. 85).21

l __e Enalish Novel p. 144.
19"Techniques," p. 20.

20The Maich of Literature# pp. 586-587.
21lThere is, perhaps, an analogy between the intruding
author imposing an artificiality on his convention and the
convention of the chorus in, say, Agamemnon and Oedipus Rex
and in some of Euripides, in Senecas and in Romeo an ufTlet
and Henr the Fifth. In A&~emnon and Oedus --.The
chorus is an integral part of the play, and thus the con-
vention seems real. The same holds true of the role of an
aloof novelist, aloof in the sense that he seems part of the

In The Mgrch of Literau,, Ford discusses Fielding's

digressions at some length, and in some detail. In Tom
Jones. for instance, after one hundred and six pages of
interrupted narrative, Fielding, losing faith in his story

or fearful that his moral was not plain, digresses for the
first time with the apology, "I ask pardon for this short

appearance, by way of chorus, on the stage" (p. 587).
Fielding then, in Ford's words, "proceeds to pirouette

and wink across his pages whenever the mood occurs to him":

Nor is it to be said that these digressions
in themselves make disagreeable reading. Such a
passage as what follows is sprightly and pleasant
and well calculated to prove that Fielding as
writer was a monstrously clever prestidigitator.
And one would be curmudgeonly indeed, if one
grudged as much to the clever and full blooded.
It is merely that . his practices were not in
themselves wrong save in that they were untimely.
In any other form but that of the novel this pass-
age would make agreeable reading, but coming as it
does at the very crisis of one of the only two at
all excitingly rendered passages in the book it is
pe.r se simply disastrous.
"As in the season of rutting, an uncouth
phrase by which the vulgar denote that gentle
dalliance, which in the well-wooded forest of
Hampshire, passes between lovers of the ferine
kind, if, while the lofty-crested stag meditates
the amorous sport, a couple of puppiles, or any
other beasts of hostile note. .. "
This sort of thing continues for some time
more and then Mr. Fielding remembers his story,
and, thus, continues it:
"Thus, and more terrible, when he perceived
the enemy's approach, leaped forth our hero. Many
a step advanced he forwards, in order to conceal
the trembling hind, and, if possible, to secure
her retreat. And now Thwackum, having first darted
some livid lightning from his fiery eyes, began to
thunder forth, 'Fie upon it! Fie upon it! Mr. Jones.
Is it possible you should be the person? 'You see,'
answered Jones, 'it is possible I should be here.'"
It must, in short, be apparent to the most
unpracticed reader that this adventure of Mr. Jones

made a lively scene and that, by cutting it up in
the middle Fielding effectually scotched it
(PP. 588-569).
Digression, Ford admits, is not in itself wrong, but
for a novelist in the middle of a scene it is untimely.
"The only restriction on the author narrator, Ford says in
The Critical Attitudes "is his own conscience--that is the
appropriateness of his intrusion to the work" (p. 34).
For Ford, the deplorable convention of author-intrusion
was first embodied in the picaresque novel of sixteenth cen-
tury Spain. In The March of Literature he maintains that
the picaresque novelist's garrulity reflected the formless-
ness of his novels, and that the Spanish novel of the six-
teenth century was formless because "it consisted of a
number of episodes each with a beginning, a working up, and
a culmination-such episodes constituting a day's or a
night's entertainment" (p. 497). "Such entertainments,"
Ford continues, "demand such workings up and developments,
the audience being able to keep the whole story in mind for
at least the space of a night's entertainment" (idem.).
Thus, the picaresque novel grew out of an oral tradition
of recitation, but its formlessness contrasted with "the
relative shapeliness of both Spanish and English plays of
the same age" (idem.). The human factor that required the
audience to be able to keep the story in mind came, "to
regulate the stage play with greater and greater insist-
The printed novel, on the other hand, could afford
to remain a matter of episodes strung together.

The reader of those days did not read very fast
and an episode In the life of a rogue sufficed
him amply for a night's leisure. Thus, all the
literary skill of a great writer like Quevedo was
given to the ingenuity of his invention and the
brilliance with which he depicted his scenes--
these scenes being divided by intervals of moral
reflection which were frequently very, and at
times Insupportably, prolonged. Thus, you have
at once the extremely trying harangues that inter-
rupt the story of Aleman's Ouzman D1 Alfarache
which, as far as this writer can a pres e call,
are only paralleled In nauseous prurience and
hypocrisy by the introductions to chapters of
Fieldingts T Jones (pp. 497-498).
In other words, "the trying harangues that interrupt the
story," were simply devices to fill up space, that is to
say, to make each episode occupy the space of an evening's
The convention of loquacious author-narrator had as
its aim the diversion or delectation of the reader-listener.
The convention of Ford's novelistic school, on the other
hand, "the novel . as a complete work of art" (p. 498),
had an entirely different aim, It was to try to make the
reader, "rising from the book in the actual atmosphere of
a West Chester library" go about "still beneath the palms
of Malaysia or the lower reaches of the Thames" (p. 587).
This being the novelist's aim, the intrusion of the author,
observes Ford In "Techniques," will destroy the Illusion
of the reader (p. 20).
In Th English Novel. Ford says that the novelist's
eternal problem is "to achieve a watertight convention for
the framework of the novel" (p. 86), in order to convince
his reader that his story Is true. Bunyan first approached

a solution to this problem by sticking to simple language
and homely images, so that the reader "charmed to find the
circumstances of his own life typified in words and glori.
fied by print, is seized by the homely narrative and carried
clean out of himself into the world of that singular and
glorious tinker" (idem.). Defoe employed the forged auto-
biograbhy, or the faked memoir. Richardson's endless
correspondence, another form of memoir, Improved on Defoe's
method in that, through letters, the reader could know what
transpires in the Cedar Parlour while Sir Charles Grandison
is walking in the Yew Walk (Idem.).
Richardson, Ford maintains, influenced "the French
realist movement from Diderot's 'Le Neveu de Rameau, to
'Le Rouge et le Noir' and again to 'Madame Bovary" (p. 95).
Ford regards this movement "as much more a movement for the
production of fictitious memoirs than the narration of sus-
tained tales, the difference between Richardson, Flaubert,
and Joseph Conrad or Turgenev being simply one of form"
Richardson . tried to assure you that Clarissa
was a real person by the mechanical device of pub-
lishing her letters whilst Flaubert and his school
try to hypnotize you into believing in their charac-
ters by methods of projection rather than narration
(pp. 95-96).
With this last statement, the positive character of
impression can come under examination. After the author
has suppressed himself, what can he do to find the "water-
tight convention"(p. 14) that will enable him to make his

story believable? Discussing the fisticuffs of his scarlet
heavy dragoon, already quoted from ae March oE Literature
(see pp. 1-2), Ford points out that the attempt of the
impressionistic author has been "above all, to make you
see" I I

It is presented rather than narrated because all
that you get are the spectacle of the affair and
the psychological reaction of one of the charac-
ters. It is unnecessary to narrate the fact that
Becky, who had previously been reclining on a
silken divan, got up, went to the window, threw
up the blind and, looking out, saw the affair we
have presented. . The reader being a person of
normal common sense, will know that she could not
have seen the blood dribbling from the marquis'
Jaws unless she had gone through all these proc-
esses, and to record them would lengthen the pass-
age and render the presentation of the affair much
more dull (p. 841).
The two key words in this passage are presentation and
narration. The author who presents does not accompany the
hapless Becky to the window, Or, as Ford remarks in
You must render: never report. You must never,
that is to say, write: "He saw a man aim a gat
at him"; you must put it: "He saw a steel ring
directed at him." Later you must get in that,
in his subconsciousness, he recognized that the
steel ring was the polished muzzle of a revolver
(pp. 31-32).
Here the key words are "render" and "report." In
The ftlish Novel Ford uses "render" and "tell":
If I say, "The wicked Mr. Blank shot nice
Blanche's dear cat" that is telling. If I
say: "Blank raised his rifle and aimed it at
the quivering, black-burdened topmost bough of
the cherry tree. After the report a spattered
bunch of scarlet and black qiverings dropped
from branch to branch to pancake itself on the
orchard grass!" that is rather bad rendering,

but still rendering. Or if I say Monsieur Chose
was a vulgar, coarse, obese and presumptuous
fellow--that -i telling. But if I say, "He was
a gentleman with red whiskers that always pre-
ceded him through a doorway," there you have him
rendered--as Naupazsant rendered him (p. 127).
Monsieur Chose's Jutting whiskers illustrate what might
be termed Ford's basic unit of rendition. In The farch of
Literature, Ford says that on a larger scale impressionism
Is simply the Juxtaposition of "the composed renderings of
two or more unexaggerated actions or situations" (p. 804).
The result will be, "like the juxtaposition of vital word
to vital word, a sort of frictional current of electric life
that will extraordinarily galvanize the work of art in which
the device is employed" (idem.). The result is analogous
to the Image of "Two men shouting in a field":
While each shouts separately each can only be
heard at a distance of an eighth of a mile, whilst
if both shout simultaneously their range of hearing
will be extended by a hundred-odd yards (idem.).
Ford illustrates this Juxtaposition in some detail. One
illustration is Jane Austen's rendering of Lady Catharine
de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice:
Miss Austen renders for- us a lady patroness feud-
ally responsible for a whole rural district and
by that whole district regarded with an awe only
fitted to be bestowed upon a divine personage. ...
Immediately after a panegyric on the goodness of
heart of that lady delivered by a minister of God--
or at least of the Church of England as by law
established--she renders for us, still without
comment, that lady expressing sentiments and com-
mitting herself to actions of almost imbecile
selfishness; . (pp. 804-805).
Here, Ford argues, are two Juxtaposed instances, and the
Juxtaposition vitalizes, as it were, each instance

(pp. 805-806). Although it can be objected that hypocrites

had been exposed before, they had not, Ford replies, been
exposed quite so convincingly because "from the birth of

Theophrastus of the Characters to that [the birth], on the

paper of Charles Dickens, of Mr. Stiggens . all hypo-

crites had been overdrawn" (p. 806). Moreover, "Miss

Austen is not engaged in exposing a hypocrite." She is

primarily interested in contrasting a moronic Lady Katharine
with "the attitude of awe" attending her (pp. 806-807):

It is a question of, as it were, the surfaces of
the works of this school. Nothing in the way of
incident or character sticks far out of the story,
but the effect of ordinariness set against ordinari-
ness in a slightly different plane gives precisely
the effect of not ill-natured gossip, which to the
average intelligent mind is the most engrossing thing
in the world, and of slight surprise which is the
prime quality of art (p. 807)

Ford cites another Juxtaposed rendering from Lord Jim.

Here Conrad has Marlow unburden himself to an old French
naval lieutenant, who, hearing "what Lord Jim's misfortune
actually was," exclaims, "Ah, monsieur, that is a matter

of honor . and when it is a matter of honor,
as he "opens and closes the plump hands that had all the

while been clasped on his stomach. .." (See p. 805.)

The old lieutenant's exclamation not only affects Marlow
himself, it illuminates "the psychology of all male France

of his generation" (p. 806). And furthermore, it re-

minds the reader, engrossed as he is in Jim's plight, that

he, like the lieutenant, is capable "of making of a point

of honor an excuse to refuse to listen to a pitiful story"

(p. 807). Thus, Jimts terrible plight, and the self-
laceration attending it, is Juxtaposed to the reactions of
more or less typical French naval humanity, right down to
the plump hands clasped on the stomach.
It is much the same principle Allen Tate describes as
operating in dme & where ma, contemplating suicide,
hears the whirring of Binetts lathe. "Here, using this
mechanic's tool, Flaubert gives us a direct imPregson of
Emma's sensation at a particular moment (which not even the
drama could accomplish), and thus by rendering audible to
us what Emma alone could hear he charged the entire scene
with actuality.",22 It is the Juxtaposition of the meaning-
less whir of the lathe and Emma's vertiginous urge to die
that makes the scene live:
The blue of the heavens suffused her, the air was
whirling in her hollow head; she had but to yield,
to let herself be taken; and the humming of the
lathe never ceased, like an angry voice calling
her (p. 143).
Hugh Kenner, in his essay on Ford, "Remember that I have
Remembered," finds both the range and the essential quality
of this principle in "the quality of Bouvard and Pecuohet's
rapture at their inheritance," which "is both rendered and
placed in twelve words by Just one collocation of enthus-
iasms: "Nous ferons tout ce gad nous plairal noun laisserons
pousser notre barbel"23 We will do all that we please!--we

220n the Limits of Poetr: Selected Essays: 128-

23,,omen: ys on Contemporary Literature (New York,
1958 )j 146 Ma a 4......

will let our beards grow, Oontains, in its technique, "all
modern letters in embryo; the exact words, the thematically
relevant detail, the hokku-like juxtaposition of imperial
felicity and an unchecked beard" (id .). For Kenner it
comprehends "Juxtaposition without copula of chapter with
chapter, incident with incident, character with character,
word with word." "It was Ford who discerned and propagated
that technique" (pp. 145-146).
The impressionism that Ford discerned, propagated, and
practiced involved, then, both the precise unit of rendi-
tion, embodied in Monsleur Chosets red beard, and the Jux-
taposition of composed renderings. Ford, however, as Hugh
Kenner points out, sometimes effaced these principles "by
washes of casual verisimilitude" (Idem.), and, in his study
of Pound, Kenner remarks that. Ford wrapped his discoveries
in "a genial and whimsical air..,24 Ford himself, in
Joseph Conrad A Personal Remembrance admits that "although
life does not narrate, but makes Impressions on the brain,"
(p. 182) narration is often necessary. For Ford, the
selection of impressions is governed by what carries the
story forward or interests the reader. Sometimes the
novelist must sacrifice the illusion of his story in order
to keep it moving, Thus:
it would be far better to give an idea of the
passage of time 7 .but the length of the story

24The Poetry of Ezra Pound (Norfolk, Connecticut),
p. 269.

must be considered. Sometimes to render anything
at all In a given space of time will take up too
much room--even to render the effect and delivery
of a speech. Then Just boldly and remorselessly
you must relate and risk the introduction of your-
self as author with Me danger that you may destroy
all the illusion of the story (p. 184).
Moreover, Ford hesitated either to recommend or to em-
ploy the m tuste that was too juste. In The March of
Literature Ford says that "Flaubert and his horde spent half
their lives in the pursuit of the mot Juste--and the other
half in making sure that the word chosen was not too u .
A too startling epithet, however vivid, or a simile, how-
ever Just, is a capital defect because the first province
of a style is to be unnoticeable" (p. 843).25 In Joseph
Conrad, A Personal emembrance, he puts it this way:
Too startling words, however, apt, too Just images,
too great displays of cleverness are apt in the
long run to be as fatiguing as the most overused
words or the most jog-trot cadences (p. 193).
Thus, Ford indicts the image of a face "having the mourn-
fulness of an old* squashed-in meat tin, cast away on a
waste building lot" as far too clever and with overuse a
nuisance (Idem.). Style involves "the fresh usual word,"
(p. 194) and "carefully examined, a good-an interesting--
style will be found to consist in a constant succession
of tiny, unobservable surprises" (p. 197). It might be a

251n The March of Literature Ford disposes of Joyce
as a "phen n0 WZ o con en is of relatively little
importance, the excitement in reading him coming almost
entirely from his skill in Juggling words as a Juggler will
play with many gilt balls at once" (p. 324).


style resembling Ford"s. own style: "Someone of some re-
finement talking in a very low voice near the ear of some.
one else he liked a good deal r,26or, as Allen Tate
remembers, "one English Gentleman whispering into the ear
of another. ,27
In sunmary, Ford's tenets of impressionism demand
either suppression or rigid control of the author's
prejudices and comments; rendition, whenever possible,
rather than narration; and a style that unobtrttslvely ur-
prises. The ramifications of these tenets will be examined
in connection with Ford's own novels. Certainly, it might
be added, Ford never considered his method sacrosanct. In
Joseph Conrad, A Perponal Remembrance he says of Conrad
and himself: ". were sensible to the fact that

commise is at all times necessar in the execution of
every work of art" (p. 193). In "Techniques," he remarks
that great writers write "by observing certain rules--or
after having observed certain rules for a long time, by
jumping off from them. You may if you like say that great
literatures have only arisen when technical rules have been
'Jumped off from'" (p. 20). The breadth of Ford's own leap
as a novelist might well be the final measure of his accom-

2 than Sword p. 218.
27_ the =mits. P. 136.


As early as his collaborating days with Joseph Conrad,
shortly after the turn of the century, Ford was discovering
and using some of the principles outlined in the previous
chapter. For Ford$ they found their earliest incorporation
in his trilogy of historical novels, The Fifth Queen
Priv Seal 2 and The Queen Crowned.3 These novels,
dealing with Eatharine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth queen,
and styled the Tudor trilogy, might profitably serve to
initiate inquiry into the accomplishments and shortcomings
of Ford's early performance. This performance can be di-
vided into historical novels and novels dealing with Ford's
own time, the Edwardian Age.
Few of Ford's early novels are memorable, and none
approaches his masterpieces, The %ood Soldier and Parade's
End. In Joseph Conrad A Personal Remembrance Ford himself
admits that until he had attained the age of forty, he had
determined "never to attempt the production of anything

1And How She Came to Court (London, 1906).

.Last (London, 1907).

3A Rmanee (London, 1908).

that was not either 1&stiLe or a to d.e f .oe--Just for
practice in writing":
Thus, rather listlessly and a little disdainfully,
from time to time the writer turned out historical
novels--which were received with very great ac-
clamations. But the writer was not disturbed: a
historical novel even at the best is nothing more
than a tour de force a fake more or less genuine
in inspirat on d Ai rwokmanship, but none the less
a fake (pp. 175-176).
In the Tudor trilogy, Ford is unquestionably at his
best as a historical novelist, and his inspiration and work-
manship are genuine. The nature of its inspiration, and
of the inspiration catalyzing Fordts other historical
novels, is perhaps best described in Ford's "Preface" to
another historical novel, f 't Moon':
But it struck me that the answer to the
question "Why did the New World attract?" might,
if one were skilful enough, be answered,
And in the Half Moon I have tried to answer

That is to say, in his historical novels, Ford is dealing
with a historical rather than a human drama, or to put it
another way, the human dram is subordinated to the his-
torical. Although, as Granville Hicks remarks, Ford's
historical novels are entered in the presentation of
states of mind and the rendering of sequences that are
largely psychological, "5 the complexities of a character's

A Rhe 2 World and the New (London, 1909), p.
5"pord Nadox Ford: An Appraisal," New Directions, 7,


state of mind never exceed the demands of his historical
role. Moreover, It Is the absence of "all the history of
the world" (see p. 7) in the affairs that Ford chooses
to render that inhibits the life in both his historical
novels and in those early novels concerning his own time,
The observation is of course difficult to prove within
the limits this study must necessarily assume. No less a
critic than R. P. Blaokmur has remarked on Ford's lack of
people "who are part of the world as we know it, who are
trealf whose $milieu' or 'ambience of positive sensibilityt

is lost, but who as people are still intact.,6 Blaokmur
adds that Ford supplied "only the excesses of his charao-
ter's vices and virtues" (Idem.). It is not necessary here
to pursue Blaokmuwts rather arbitrary demolition of Ford's
entire corpusp it need only be observed that Blaekmw feels
that Fordts historical novels depend on "the glory of an
arbitrary prestige resting on values asserted but not found
in the actual world" (p. 125). The phrase "arbitrary
prestige" is reminiscent of Ford's own "arbitrary felicities
of a central oharacter"(p. 7). Perhaps the limitation not
just of Ford's but of any novelist's historical novels
er je is expressed by Henry James in connection with fic-
tion generally:
The moving accident, the rare conjunction, whatever
it be, doesn't make the story--in the sense that

6"The King over the Water: Notes on the Novels of
F. M. Hueffer The Princeton University Library Chronicle,
IX (April 1946), I7,

the story in our excitement, our amusement, our
thrill and our suspense; the human emotion and the
human attestation, the clusteping human conditions
we expect presented, only make it.7
As a historical novel, however, the Tudor trilogy is

practically flawless. (Conrad termed it "the swan song of

historical romance.")8 But its conception does not strain

to transcend itself, to break out of its historical liga-
tures, to examine and reshape the arbitrary prestige on

which it rests. In other words, Katharine Howard, the

heroine, is more of a historical figure than a woman.9
The affair that Ford renders in the Tudor trilogy is

Katharine Howard's struggle to restore the Catholic faith
to England. She comes to the court of Henry VIII sure of

her faith and convinced that men can live like the Greek
and Roman heroes she has read about in books. For

Katharine, "living men she had never respected--for they

seemed to her like wild beasts when she compared them with

7The Art of the Novel: The Critical Prefaces (New York,
1934) T ______
8Douglas Goldring, The Last Prg-tp haelite. A Record of
the Life and Writings of -MadoFord (London, 1947,_

9The epitaph closing The Fifth Queen Crowned suggests
that Ford regarded the Tudor t!To~gy as no more t'han a
KATHARINE HOWARD was executed on
Tower Hill, the 13th of February, in the
33rd year of the reign of King Henry VIII
(p. 314)
In the Tudor trilogy, Katharine is not the doxy that his-
torians have labeled her. The question of historical facts
however, need not intrude, for Ford's aim is not history
but the impression of a historical drama.

such of the ancients as Brutus or as Seneca."10 None the

less she feels that the love of justice inculcated by
Plutarch and Tacitus is a virtue attainable in her world,

and she herself tries to practice it.11
Her great adversary, Thomas Cromwell, the Lord Privy
Seal who stripped the monasteries and harried the clergy,

tells her that "Ood Is above us all" (p. 115), but that
"God is very far away" (p. 117). She answers:

o h ye have made this King rich, but I will give
to him again his power to sleep at night; ye have
made this realm subject to this King; but, by the
help of god, I will make it subject again to God.
You have set up here a great State, but oh, the
children of God do weep since ye came" (idem.).12
Thomas Cromwell believes In the all powerful state, in
Il Principe of Machiavelli (p. 276). Like Natharine, he

is a dedicated man. He tells hertz "If you have faith of

1oThe Fifth Queen p. 61.
11Privy Seal P. 79.

1It is Katharine's rather imperious conviction, as
well as her simplicity, that makes her something of a woman
as well as a saint. Rather subtly, Ford indicates that she
is a little too sure of herself. For instance, in the midst
of Katharine's exhortation to her friend, Cicely Elliott,
in which she accuses Cicely of indifference to the fate of
the Catholic Church in England, Cicely replies with a mis-
quotation from Polycrates:
"God hath withdrawn Himself from this world,"
Cicely answered. "All mankind goeth a-munming."
'It was another thing that Polycrates said."
Katharine, In spite of her emotion, was quick to
catch the misquotation (Pv Sealt p. 91).
Slight touches like this, showing Kajharine as a woman proud
of her learning, as well as a saint serving her Church, re-
flect, in a small way, the principle of juxtaposition out-
lined earlier.

your cause I have the like of mine" (p. 119). For Crom-
well "there is not room for two heads of a State (King

and Pope], and in a State is room but for one army" (p. 115).
Cromwell is finally defeated and executed and Katharine

becomes queen. But her enemies, including the Catholics

themselves, unite to bring her down, accusing her of

adultery and treason. The great nobles and prelates can-

not surrender the lands and goods of the monasteries.
Henry is caught in the middle. He loves Katharine
and wants to restore the Church, but he cannot risk his

sovereignty to save her. He can only propose that she admit
their marriage was invalid, and that she withdraw from the
court and live as his mistress. Although he offers to save

her life, she tells himi
"If, by being reputed your leman, as you would
have it, I could again set up the Church of God,
willingly I would do it. But I see that there is
not one man--save maybe some poor simple souls--
that would have this done. Each man is set to
save his skin and his goods--and you are such a
weathercock that I should never blow you to a firm
quarter. For what am I against all this nation?"13

Katharine never loses her faith, but her illusion of

a world informed by heroism and virtue is shattered:

"So you appeared to me such a man as was Pompey
the Great, or as was Marius, or as was Sylla.
For each of these great men erred; yet they erred
greatly as rulers that would rule. Or rather I
did see you such a one as was Caesar Julius, who,
as you well wot, crossed a Rubicon and set upon
high endeavour. But you--never will you cross any
,Rubicon; always you blow hot in the evening and

13The Fifth Queen Crownedo p. 311.

cold at dawn, Neither do you, as I had dreamed you
did, rule in this your realm. For, even as a crow
that Just now I watched, you are blown hither and
thither by every gust that blows. Now the wind of
gossips blows so that you must have my life. And,
before God, I am glad of it" (pp. 30&-309).
It is indicative of Ford's dispassion, of his rigid
control of his own views, that Katharine Howard does not
step out of the story to perform as Ford's mouthpiece. Yet
Ford had strong feelings about the suppression of the
Catholic Church in England and the confiscation of church
lands and goods. In The Critical Attitude which appeared
in 1911 and which may be said to represent Ford's opinion of
Edwardian England, Ford traces the inception of "modern
England" to none other than Katharine's antagonist, Thomas

le gave the country not only the blessings it en-
Joys, but also its chief problem. He destroyed
Catholicism and the rule of the noble; he gave us
Protestantism and a democratic instrument that Is
as nearly perfect as any that has yet been known,
since, from the days of Cromwell's modification of
Parliament, it has very effectually registered the
will of the people at such times as the people was
in the frame of mind to have desires or to pay atten-
tion to public matters (p. 16).
Although Cromwell believed that the state existed for the
strong, humanitarianism came to modify his politics, and
the result for Ford was that "our modern state is defective;
we have compromised, as we are perpetually compromising"

(pp. 16-17):
And the result is a perpetual discord, a dis-
cord that we have never muddled through into any
harmonious resolution. It was the Redeemer who
first said that the poor are always with us, who
first glorified the poor, who first adumbrated the

vision of a State adapted to the needs of the weak
and of the humble. But Cromwell was more than any-
thing an opponent of Christ, or was more than any-
thing indifferent to Christianism. In a rough and
ready way the Church, before the sweeping away of the
monasteries, attempted to mould states into the forms
of Christian Commonwealth, The Church took the poor
under its protection. It attempted to wrest from
temporal powers as great a portion of their resources
as it could. It administered more or less wastefully
these resources, using them primarily in the inter-
ests of the cult, and secondarily in those of the
poor, who are God's brothers. Thus after a fashion
they left for Caesar as little as they could of the
thing that was Caesarts, and rendered all the rest
to God. Mediaevalists, some humanitarians idealists,
and others, seeing the immense body of poor men that
the great monasteries supported, see also in this
arrangement the ideal charity, the ideal method of
disposing of those poor who are always with us. And
indeed, the ideal is a fine one. But it should not
be forgotten that Cromwell also had his panacea for
the poor--a panacea perfectly simple, perfectly direct,
perfectly logical. This was the rope...
Under his auspices the rope was used unsparingly;
in thousands and thousands, under the auspices of
the Flail of the Monks, the poor were hanged. This
was the logical consequence, this was the inevitable
result of a strong, of a Christless State (p. 18).

These are strong words; yet the Cromwell depicted in the
Tudor trilogy, though pitiless and unscrupulous, is by no

meanR a monster. His dedication to the King is his life,

and like Katharine he has his ideals. When he has made the
King absolute, "there should be no more war, as there should
be no more revolts":

There should be no more jealousies; for kingcraft,
solid, austere, practical and inspired, should
keep down all the peoples, all the priests, and
all the nobles of the world. "Ah," he thought,
"there would be in France no power to shelter
traitors like Brancetor." His eyes became softer
in the contemplation of this Utopia, and he moved
his upper lip more slowly.14
By comparison with one of her own followers, Katharine feels

that Cromwell is "the better man, though he were her

14The Fifth Queen, pp. 16-17.

foe.15 She feels that God wll forgive him, if only be-
cause he was faithful to his first master, the deposed
Cardinal Wolsey (p. 179). And Cromwell has an equal re-
spect for Mtharine, though his cause demands her death.
Unlike many of Mtharine's supporters, he believes in her
personal chastity, and In his own way he has a wry sort of
sympathy for her. He meditates "that it was possible to
imagine a woman that thought so simply; yet it was impos-
sible to imagine one that should be able to act with so
great a simplicity" (p. 120). And when his turn comes to
die, Cromwell goes with a terrible courage. He displays
rage and despair, but it is his accusers who are afraid:
and Norfolk had cried out that Thomas
Cromwell was no longer Privy Seal of that kingdom,
nor president of that council, but a traitor that
must die. Then such rage and despair had come into
Thomas Cromwell's terrible face that Creanmer's
senses had reeled. He had seen Norfolk and the
Admiral fall back before this passion; he had
seen Thomas Cromwell tear off his cap and cast
it on the floor; he had heard him bark and snarl
out certain words into the face of the yellow dog
of Norfolk.
If # life dare call me traitor"
and Nor 01 hI aen ci-iwahe a J
In other words, as "a gentleman who will also invent, justify
and set going characters to express views opposite to those
you hold" (see p. 8), Ford gives the devil his due.
The effect on his novels of Ford's medievalism, like
that of his Toryism and Catholicism, has been exaggerated,

15D= Seal p. 114.
16The Fifth Queen Crowned. p. 102.

notably by R. P. Blaokmur, who maintains that, in M f
Soldier at least, "feudalism, sensuality, Roman Catholicism,
are, all three, forces which prevent the people in this
book from coping with the real world and which exacerbate
their relations to It."17 For Blackmur, Ford's adherence
to lost causes took the form of "the cultivation of ances-
tral Utopias" (p. 127). That Ford admired much in
medieval life is evident from the passage quoted in The
Critical Attitude (p. 31), and that he had strong reser-
vations about the life of his own time is evident both in
The Critieal Attitude and in the following passage, from
Ancient Lights. his first volume of reminiscences:

For the life of to-day is more and more becoming
a life of little things. We are losing more and
more the sense of the whole, the feeling of a
grand design, of the co-ordination of all Nature
In one great architectonic scheme. . And if
in outside things we can perceive no design but
only the fortuitous materialism of a bewildering
world, we are thrown more and more In upon our-
selves for comprehension of that which is not
understa able and for analysis of things of the
spirit. lB
.Here, however, Ford is not contrasting modern and

medieval times; he is contrasting his own times to those
of his early years, the years of the Pre-Raphaelites and
of the last Victorian great. Modern times, for Ford in
Ancient L resembled the middle ages in the empiricism

17"The King," p. 125.
18And Certain New Reflections (London, 1911), p. 62.

that, according to his belief, characterized both (Ldm.).
Moreover, he insists on attacking the William Morris school
of medieval woolgathering* William Morris, "never looked
mediaevalism, with Its cruelties, its filth, its stenches,
and its avarice, in the face---." (p6 17).
That Ford did not consider the Tudor era an ancestral
Utopia is evident in The irit of the People, an analysis
of the English mind:
For the pre-tudor times appeal, by their actions,
to the schoolboy that is in us all; the post-
Stuart times appeal for their principles, to the
amateur moralist that is in us all. But the Tudor-
Stuart era is interesting merely for its exhibition
of human greed, heroism, bigotry, martyrdom or
The age depicted in the Tudor trilogy has all of these
qualities; yet they are presented without passion and with-
out the maledictions of historical hindsight. An excellent
illustration is Ford's account of the burning of a Catholic
friar. It is the very understatement of the burning, the
presentation of a common and extremely matter of fact
entertainment, that makes the reader condemn it. Ford's
aim, however, is not to condemn a burning, but to render a
character's sensations by Juxtaposing them to what he re-
gards as excellent entertainment. The character is the
violent and boisterous Culpepper, Katharine's cousin, who
is passionately in love with her and who once sold farms

19An Analsis of the Nglish Mind (London, 1907),
PP. 73-7M.

to buy her gowns.. He has just returned to London, unaware
that he is about to become Cromwell's instrument:
In the great place of Smithfield, towards
noon, Thomas Culpepper sat his horse on the out-
skirts of the crowd. By his side Hogben, the gate-
warden, had much ado to hold his pikestaff across
his horse's crupper in the thick of the people.
The pavement of heads filled the place--bare
some of them, some of them covered, according as
their owners had cast their caps on high for joy at
the Bishop of Worcester's words against the Papist
that was to be burned, or as they pressed their
thumbs harder down in disfavour and waited to shew
their joy at the hanging of the three Protestants
that should follow. In the centre towered on high
a great gallows from which depended a chain; and
at the end of the chain, half-hidden by the people,
but shewing his shoulders and his head, a man in a
friar's cowl. And, towering as high as the gallows,
painted green as to its coat and limbs, but gilt
in the helmet and brandishing a great spear, was
the image calAed David Durvel Gatheren that the
Papist Welsh adored. This Image had been brought
there that, in its burning, it might consume the
friar Forest. It gazed, red-checked and wooden,
across the sun-light space at the pulpit of the
Bishop of Worcester in his white cassock and black
hat, waving his white arms and exhorting the man
in the gallows to repent at the last moment. Some
words of Ltimer might now and again be heard; the
chained friar stood upon the rungs of a ladder set
against the gallows post; he hung down his head and
shook it, but no word could be heard to come from
his lips.
"Damnable heretic and foul traitor!" Latimer's
urgings came across the sea of heads. "Here sitteth
his Majesty's council--" At these words went up a
little buzz of question, but sufficient from all
that great crowd to send as it were a wind that
blew away the Bishop's words. .
The friar, truly, hung his head, clung to the
rungs of the ladder, trembled so that all men might
see, and once caught furiously at the iron chain and
shook it; but no word came from his lips. Culpepper
was bursting with pride and satisfaction because he
was a made man and would have all the world to know
it. He swung his green bonnet round his red head
and called for huzzays when the friar showed fear.
Hogben called for huzzays for Squahre Tom of Lincoln,
and many men cheered. But the silence dropped again,

and the Bishop 's words, raised now very high, domi-
nated the sunlight and eddied around the tall faces
of the housefronts behind. .
"Bones of St. Nairn" Culpepper cried: "here
is too much speaking and no work. Dazzay! e caitiffs.
Burn. Bum, Burn. For the honour of England." And,
starting from his figure at the verge of the crowd,
cries went up of "huzzayl" of "Burnt" and "St.
George for London!" and unquiet rumnours and struggles
and waving in the crowd of heads, so that the Bishop's
voice was not heard anymore that day.20
A silence falifs as the wooden image of David Durel Gatheren
is hauled through the crowd:
. some among the crowd began to sing the
sing the song against the Welsh Papists that ran--
"David Durvel Gatheren
As sayeth the Welshman
Fetched outlaws out of hell!"
and the burden of it rose so loud that the image
swayed over and fell unheard. At that too a
silence fell, and presently there came the sound
of axes chopping. The friar, swaying on his ladder,
looked down and then make a great sign of the cross
(p. 285).
Culpepper is suddenly drawn aside and forced to "bring his
excited mind from the thought of the burning and the Joy
of the day, with its crowd and its odour of men, and sun-
shine and tumult" (p. 286). It is Cromwell's agent who
draft Culpepper aside, inforning him that he must leave:
Already a thin swirl of blue smoke was ascend-
ing past the friar's figure to the bright sky; it
aressed the beam of the gallows and Culpepper's
bloodshot eye pursued it upwards.
"Before Godl" he muttered, "I was set to see
this burning.. . Ye have seen many; I never a
one'" (pp, 286-287).
The passage has been quoted at some length because it
demonstrates Ford's principle of author suppression. The

20PrivX Seal pp. 282-284.

author of this passage does not appear to have any views.
He presents, without oo ment, the stubborn trembling friar,
the bishop "waving his white arms" to make the friar re-
cant, the crowd out for a good time. The event is not
unlike a prizefight, with but the one difference that all
concerned in the burningp including the friar, believe in
it as the only punishment for heretics. The cry "St.
George for Londont" from a crowd thoroughly enjoying it-
self points up the difference between burnings and prize-
fights, the difference between Tudor England and the England
of Ford# s own time, In Ford Mdox Ford Kenneth Young lo-
cates this difference in the "dream-like quality" of people
"who really believed in heavenly rewards and eternal punish-
ments and the burning of heretic 's,21

The effect is attained without the overelaboration
attending a historical novel like f Anhback of Notre

Dm with its totally depraved populace and its highly
romanticized Esmarolda. The thin swirl of blue smoke
caressing the beam of the gallows does the work of pages
of condemnation, and it concentrates the effect of "ordi-
nariness set against ordinariness in a slightly different
plane" (see p. 18). It is the effect of a fairly common
occurrence, the burning, set against the anticipation of a

sentimental, drunken, violent home m sensual Thomas

2l(London, 1956), Pp. 23-24.

Culpepper. that shows the depravity human beings are cap-
able of.22
The passage reveals much more about these novels than
the authors suppression of views# or his refusal to com-
ment on the action he is presenting. Its dream-like quality
is, as Kenneth Young again observes, "in pabt a result of
the prose style, which, although perfectly straightforward
and comprehensiblej develops an antique air and cadences
not of our time":
Occasionally it uses words that are unfamiliar--
"gar" or "anan"--but never so unfamiliar that their
meaning cannot be guessed at from the context nor so
repetitive that they become tainted with the Wardour
Street English of "prithee," "forsooth," and "odds
bodikins" (p. 24).
Throughout the passage the words are unobtrusive and the
cadences unarresting. "By his side Hogben, the gatewarden,
had much ado to hold his pikestaff across his horse's
crupper in the thick of the people." "The friar, truly,
hung his head, clung to the rungs of the ladder, trembled
so that all men might see, and once caught furiously at
the iron chain and shook it." Here, the style consisting
in "tiny unobservable surprises" (see p. 22) fits the
burning itself, which is only slightly surprising. Not
until the end of the passage is Ford's style ruffled.
"Already a thin swirl of blue smoke was ascending past

22Culpepper is, in fact, torn between his desire to
see the burning and his desire to obtain the farms Cromwell
has promised him for services rendered.

the friar's figure to the bright sky; it caressed the beam
of the gallows and Cilpepper's bloodshot eye pursued it
upwards." Caressed is the too juste word, yet its effect,
like a pebble dropped in a still pool, is quickly dissi-
pated by the cadence of the second coordinate clause.
Stylistically, this passage is "toned down"; others
are subtly toned up, The total effect is that of the
slight surprise occasioned by the fresh, usual word (p. 22).
It might be termed the "whisper of an English gentleman"
(see p. 22) in the court of Henry VIII, with Just enough
antique words and phrases to impart the flavor of the age*
As such, there are very few lapses.93
Like the style, the imagery is often unobtrusive.
There are many passages of straight description, such as
the following:
The original builders of the Castle of Pontefraot
had meant this terrace to be flagged with stone:
but the work had never been carried so far forward.
There was only a path of stone along the bowshot
and a half of stone balustrade; the rest had once
been gravel, but the gress had grown over it; that
had been scythed, and nearly the whole space was
covered with many carpets of blue and red and other
very bright colors. In the left corner when you
faced inwards there was a great pavilion of black
cloth, embroidered very closely with gold and held
up ropes of red and white. Though forty people
couldsit in it round the table, it appeared very
small, the walls of the castle towered up so high.24

23Here are two: "The little prince held his face in
the voluminous velvet of his father's vast thighs" (Pr
Seal p.* 181). "His boasting bluster died away befoe-hr
iToe" (p. 186). The alliteration and the overwrought
redundancy are flagrant.
24he ifth Quen Crowned pp. I-15.

At the end of the passage, however, Ford activates this
description with an image Just a shade too gst :
They towered up, so high, so square, and so straight
that from the terrace below you could hardly hear
the flutter of the huge banner of St. George, all
red and white against the blue sky, though some-
times ,n a gust it cracked like a huge whip, and
its shadow, where it fell upon the terrace, was suf-
ficient to cover four men (p. 15).
The crack of the banner in a gust of wind has the same ar-
resting effect as the smoke caressing the gallows beam
(see p. 37).25
Kenneth Young terms this process "phanopoeia" (p. 24),
which Ezra Pound defines as "a casting of images on the
visual imagination."26 Young affirms that "we are never
in doubt as to where the characters are, where the light
comes from. what they can see through the window, where at
a critical moment their hands are, what lies beyond that
door" (p. 24). The result is making the reader see. Yet
Ford's most effective images are never quite Juste. They
are almost Imperceptibly distorted or exaggerated. In the

251n the passage devoted to the burning of the Catholic
friar, both the word "caressed" and the image of smoke
caressing the gallows and ascending to the bright sky have
the same effect. In this passage, the Juxtaposition of
noise and silence is a little too Juste. The image of
Gatheren crashes unheard above the singing of the crowd;
then there is a silence, broken "only by the sound of axes
chopping." This imagery comes near the end of the passage,
and subtly prepared for the Juxtaposition of the curling
blue smoke with the bright sky#
26"How to Read," Polite ssays (Norfolk, Connecticut),
170. At its finest .oI d says, phanopoeia should have
clarity and directness" (p. 182).


scene between Katharine and Anne of Cleves, Anne sits "so
still that not even the lawn tips of her wide hood with its
invisible minute sewings of white., quivered. "27 Silence
and stillness are emphasized here, and both are driven home
when Katharine seems to hear "the flutter against the window
glass of a butterfly" (p. 21).
At its best, this slightly exaggerated phanopoeia is,
as Kenneth Young observes, "transmuted . into the

highest art":
As Henry, at the end or fri Seal persuades
Katharine to become his queen- --rites t
He lulled her in his arm swaying on
his feet. "Hast a great tongue. Speakest
many words. But art a very child. God
send thee all the Joy I purpose thee. And,
an thou hast sins, weight me further down
in hell therewith."
The light of the candles threw their
locked shadows along the walls and up the
ceilings. Her head fell back, her eyes
closed, so that she seemed to be dead And
her listless hands were open in her skirts.
The "hands open in her skirts' is a flourish,
almost an affectation of art, but it completes the
picture, as a clamp closes a magnetic field. It
is a beautiful parallel to what Ford praised so
highly-the last words of The Turn of the Screw:
"We were alone with the queT day,.j disittle
heart, dispossessed, had stopped.' Ford says of
that: "Observe how that sentence is slightly man-
nered. That is the device of all the great writers.
In great moments the convention which is a necessity
for all works of art must be enhanced by Just the
merest motion of the screw and the language must
by the merest shade, marmorealize itself" (pp. 24-
In the Tudor trilogy, Ford's basic units of rendition
depend on these flourishes. Monsieur Chose's red whiskers

27privy Seal p. 238.

are Just a little too red, the blue smoke caresses the
gallows, Katharine's listless hands are open in her skirts.
The effect may not be quite so marmoreal as that produced
by James' use of "dispossessed" which Is a flourish of
style rather than Imagery. Yet, at crucial points, it
subtly contributes to the larger effect of ordinariness set
against ordinariness on a slightly different plane. In
other words, the smoke caressing the gallows beam, ilch
Culpepper's bloodshot eye pursues upwards, is the final
turn of the screw in ?ordts impression of an ordinary man
at an ordinary burning.
In the passage quoted on page 16, Ford speaks of "the
spectacle of the affair and the psychological reaction of
one of the characters." In the Tudor trilogy, Ford fre-
quently Juxtaposes historical spectacle to the psychological
reactions of his characters, sometimes emphasizing one,
sometimes the other. The burning at Smithfield Is domi-
nated by spectacle, for Culpepper's reactions scarcely need
elaboration. It is spectacle, in fact, that serves to
render his reactions.
In moments of intensity, the rendition of Matharine
is accomplished through the reciprocal action of spectacle
and psyche. For instance, when she flees In terror from
one of Cromwell's agents, Ford renders her terror through
the "spectacle" of her flight and her flight through her
terror. And both her flight and her terror combine to make
her welcome the protection of the Kingt

At last, in front of her was a pale, leaded
window; she turned to the right; she was in a long
corridor# she ranl it seemed she ran for miles,
She was gaspgn "For pityl for pityl" to the saints
of heaven. She stayed to listen, there was a silence,
then a voice in the distance. She listened and
listened. The feet began to run again, the sole of
one shoe struck the ground hard, the other scarcely
sounded. She could not tell whether they came towards
her or no. Then she began to run again, for it was
certain now that they came towards her. As if at
the sound of her own feet the footfalls came faster.28
Some of the most vivid Juxtapositions, however, are
devoted to minor characters, who are, in a sense, overpre-
sented. The rendition of the marriage of Nicholas Udal,
the Lady Mary' s secretary and 1tharine' s former tutor, is
a case in point. His marriage has only a slight pertinence
to the Intrigue that brings latharine down. It does set
the stage for the events of Pivy f for because of his
marriage, Udal comes into possession of documents affecting
the fate of Katharine. Yet the marriage seems too long and
too thoroughly rendered for its dramatic purpose. It is
spectacle per se that seems to Interest Ford here:
For he remembered that in England no marriage
by a friar or monk held good in those years. There-
fore he as the winner. And the long, square room,
with the cave bed behind its shutter in the hollow
of the wall, the light-coloured, square beams, and
the foaming basin of bride-ale that a fat-armed girl
in a blue kerseymere gown served out to scullion
after scullion; the open windows from which a little
knave was casting bridepennies to some screaming
beggars and women in the street; the blind hornman
whose unseeing eyes glanced along the reed of his
bassoon that played before the open door; the two
saucy maids striving to wrest the bride's stockings

28Te Fifth Queen p. 284.

one from the other--all these things appeared
friendly and Jovial In his eyes. So that, when
one of the maids, wresting the stocking, fell hard
against him he clasped her in his arms and kissed
her till she struggled from him to drink a mug
of bride-ale,
The impression Udal receives here, as well as that re-
oeived by the reader, is one of the few demonstrations in
Fordfs early novels of Ford's principle that life does not
narrate but makes impressions on the brain.30 On the other
hand, Nicholas Udal's multilensed perception substantiates
Ford's own estimation of his historical novels--that, "even
at the best," they were t e fe es (see p. 25). For
Nicholas Udal does not deserve the treatment Ford gives
him, nor, finally, does Katharine Howard herself. In the
final analysis, the independent life of the Tudor trilogy
resides in spectacle, in such images as "the foaming basin
of bride-ale." served to scullion after scullion.

29lriv Seal p. 19.
30Zosep Conrad p. 182. Other demonstrations will be
subsequent examined, in a slightly different connection.


Of Ford's early novels, A CallI focuses much of Ford's

early practice as an impressionist dealing with his own

time. In his "Epistolary Epilogue" to A Call. Ford terms
himself a "poor Impressionist" who is caught between two

classes of readers, those who read too much into a story,
and those who scarcely read at all (p. 303). As "poor

Impressionist," Ford says that his intentions are modest:

"His sole ambition was to render a little episode--a small
"affair" affecting a little circle of people--exactly as

it would have happened" (p. 804). He desires to point no
moral and to exclude every "superfluous word" (p. 303)- He
admits, however, that he was persuaded to add "passages of

explicit conversation, . droppings of the eyelids and
tragic motions of the hands," because the original draft

was regarded as obscure (p. 302). None the less, he tried
to exclude views that might be construed as his own; there

was to be nothing that might suggest that his hero "felt
religious stirrings within him or fA Call# to do something

heroic and chivalrous, such as aiding women to obtain the
vote" (p. 303). Finally, he expresses concern over "what

1A Call: The Tale of Two Passions (London, 1910).

to do to make his next story plain to the most mediocre

Intelligence" (p. 304).

The affair Ford selects is little more than an episode.
An English gentleman, Robert Grimshaw, is torn between two
passions, one for the wife of his best friend, Pauline

Leicester, the other for his cousin, Katya Lasoarides.
Pauline, a former governess, is honorable and self sacrific-

Ing; Katya, a specialist in nervous diseases, is passionate
and fiercely possessive. In his "Epilogue" Ford terms

Grimshaw himself "an amiable but meddlesome and inwardly

conceited fool" (p. 301), and the measure of his conceit in

his belief that he can marry off the woman he loves. A man

of no experience, he is described in the novel as a man who

relies on the traditions "of his English public-school
training, of his all-smooth and suppressed contacts in

English Social life," and "the facile sense of honour that
is adapted only to the life of no strain, of no passions"

(p. 281). His love for Pauline, which he belatedly realizes
is his real passion, has taken the form of watching over
her, of protecting her and showing her a good time, while
he waits for 1htya to consent to marry him. He regards

Pauline as a "small slight bird," and he wants "to have her

in a cage, to chirrup over her, to whistle to her, to give

her grapes and to have her peep up at me and worship me"
(pp. 16-17). For Katya he has felt passion: "She is vigour,
she is life, she is action, she is companionship" (p. 14).

Because Katya herself is illegitimate, she is willing to

live with him but refuses to marry him, an arrangement his
public school training forbids. Only after his passion
for Katya is dead does Katya relent. Suspecting that Pauline

is in love with Orimshaw, Katya insists, in fact, that
Grimshaw marry her. And so Grimshaw, as Ford puts it in

his "Epilogue," reaps "the harvest of his folly" (p. 301).

Specifically, Grimahaw's folly is an ill-timed tele-

phone call. One night he sees his best friend, Dudley

Leicester, enter the home of Etta Hudson, Leicesterts former
fiance. Suspeoting an affair and distracted by a passion
to shield Pauline, he rings up Etta's number. Leicester,

who in reality is no more than the unscrupulous Etta's vic-

tim for the evening, answers the phone, and is terrified to

hear a voice ask: "Isn't that Dudley Leicester speaking?"
(p. 77). As a result of this shock, Leicester contracts C-
a nervous disease that leaves him unable to speak. Grim-

shaw and Pauline realize that if he is not cured, they will

be free to marry. But this is the one thing that Pauline

feels she cannot do. As she puts it, for the very reason
that "marriage is a weaker thing than it used to be"

(p. 274), she must stick to her husband. The "other kind
of ties" (Idem.), those of honor and duty, are too strong

for her. So she asks Grimshaw to seek out Natya, and

Katya, the nerve specialist, cures Leicester by having

Grimshaw reveal that it was he who made the phone call.
In his "Epilogue," Ford remarks that the title of the

novel refers to nothing more than Grimshaw's telephone call,

and he goes on to say that the novel has no overtones of
meaning, being no more than "a singularly plain tale"
(pp. 302-303). To use the phrase quoted from James on

page 24, the "moving accident," or the "rare conjunction,"
or the surface action or plot of the affair practically
exhausts the novel's significance, The human emotion and
the human attestation, "the clustering human conditions we
expect presented," are not presented, nor is it evident
that "all the history of the world" (see p. 6), to use
Ford's own criterion, is comprehended, What little signifi-
canoe A fall has lies in Pauline Leicesterts reason for re-
fusing Orimahaw, that is to say, in the extreme scrupu-
losity that informs both Grimshaw's conduct and her own.
"Tragedies?" Pauline exclaims. "Yes in our day and in
our class we dontt allow ourselves easy things like daggers
and poison bowls" (p. 274). It has already been pointed
out that Pauline cannot forget the ties of honor and duty
because of the weakening of the formal tie of marriage.
Grimshaw's facile sense of honor, adapted only to the life

of no strain, of no passions, has also been noted (see p. 44).
Grimshaw himself occasionally ruinates on his class s pre-
dicament. "What," he asks, "have we arrived at in our day
and our class if we haven't learnt to do what we want, to
do what seems proper and expedient" (p. 28). But Grimehaw

adds "and to take what we get for it" (idem.). Although
everyone in his class and in his time wants the moon, no
one can have more than the earth (p. 34). Pauline concludes

that "Our day and our class" can only succeed in not making
scandals (p. 274), and even the acquisitive xmtya, who wants
"the whole of a man altogether" (p. 254), fears the loss

of "the overtone of life--the something that's more than

the mere living" (p. 244) and fears that she, too, "might
be growing into a creature without a place" ftd_.).

What seems to inhibit the principals in A Call is the
absence of any kind of sustaining and nourishing vision of

human destiny, the absence of a center of belief. Robert

Grimshaw might easily have said what Ford says in Ancient

Ligts that "we are losing more and more the sense of the

whole, the feeling of a grand design," and that in "the
fortuitous materialism of a bewildering world, we are thrown
more and more in upon ourselves for comprehension of that

which is not understandable and for analysis of the things

of the ppirit" (p. 31).
In A Call as though to drive this message home, Ford

introduces a Greek Orthodox priest who has nothing whatever
to do with the story. Grimshaw encounters him in Kensing-

ton Gardens, and seated together on a bench, they see a

nursemaid wheeling a baby, who is gazing contentedly at

the treetops. She passes, averting her face. The priest

is condemning the English form of charity, one which hedges
at risking self-exposure:

"I know a lady who resides near our church
and is noted for a frosty sort of charity, going
with tracts into the poorer regions. I have
heard that she said to her niece: VMy dear, never
keep a diary; it may be used against you!l"

The priest pronounced these words with a singu-
lar mixture of laughter and contempt. "Do you
not hear all England speaking in theme words?"
he asked suddenly (pp. 217-218).
Grimehaw answers that England has produced the nurse who
has Just passed. And the priest replies that England
certainly has produced both the nurse and the child
"A menial who averts her eyes--a child who
is inanimate by force of being ketp 'good'--a 'good'
child. My son# a 'good' child is a thing to make
the angels cry; for is it not recorded of our Com-
forter that once He struck His mother?"
"But should not the nursemaid avert her
eyes?" Grimehaw said.
"Consider," the black pope answered, "with
what a laughing glance she would have passed you
had she been a Cypriote; or how she would have
gazed till her eyes started from her head at an
English Bishop. Buat as for this girl, she averts
her gaze. Her aunt has told her that it might be
used against her,"
"It might be used against her, you know,"
Grimahaw said*
"Ch, my son," the priest said, "for what has
God given a maiden eyes, save to use them in inno-
cent glances? And what use is the teaching of our
Church if passer-by may not smile upon passer-by
and pass the time of day by well-heads and shady
groves? It may be used against them. But tell
me this, my son: Are there not four times more
fallen women and brothels in one-half of this city
than in all Greece and Cyprus and the Isles?"
"Yet there is not one such nursemaid," Grim-
shaw said. "And it is that that our civilization
has bent all its energies to produce" (pp. 218-
The exchange between Orimshaw and the priest has
nothing to do with the action itself and does not affect
Orimehaw significantly. That it is included suggests that
Ford is not entirely forthright in maintaining that he
has tried to exclude his own views. These views have at
best thematic relevance to the action, providing, as it

were, a glimpse of life with a religious center, in this
Instance (ek-Orthodoz Catholicism. The Cypriote girl,
unlike Grimahaw and Pauline, is not inhibited, and would
not worry about preventing scandals 2 She would not think
too much of the effects of her actions, for by doing so,
she would "lose much Christian charity" (p. 217).
This aspect of the Greek Orthodox Priestts Catholicism
lends itself to a digression on Fordls religious views. In
An nt UEt Ford says that "in a mild way," he is "a
sentimental Tory and a Roman Catholic" (p. 292),, and accord-
Ing to his biographer, Douglas Goldr'ing, he was received
Into the Church at the age of eighteen (p. 51). 'Of Ford's
Catholicism, Goldring says that "the romantic, aesthetic,
magical, superstitious and poetic aspects of Catholicism
caught and held his imagination but never exercised any
Influence over his intellectual processes" (p. 52). Both
his mother and father were "agnostics and rationalists,"
and the decision to enroll him with the faithful was prompted
by a desire to court the rich Catholic Hueffers in Europe
(p. 51).
That Ford was receptive to the intellectual as well
as the emotional appeal of Catholicism is evidenced in his
observations on the English national character in The Spirit

20rimshaw's mother, It is true, is Greek, and Grimshaw
feels that he has some of her characteristics. He tells
the priest that his mother has taught him to "do what you
want and take what you get for it" (p. 216).

2.f. A People observations centered in the effects of
Protestantism on the Knglish mind. For Ford, Catholicism
"is a religion of action and of frames of mind, . a
religion that men can live up to." No man can live up to
Protestantism because "it is a religion of ideals and of
reason" (idem.). Ford does not give his own preference,
admitting that an ideal code "can be beneficial to humanity"
(1dee.)* Yet the sacrifice of intuition for reason entails
a sacrifice of appeal and authority, and a considerable
loss of theological tradition and popular comprehensibility
(p. 115). Moorever, Protestantism denies "that pagan half
of humanity which is fitted for Catholicism" (p. 81).
Here Ford is endorsing the function of Catholicism not
its dogma, its function in the good society. He was a
nominal Catholic, or as he puts it, in a mild way a Catholic,
yet he recognizes that for his own day "the function of
God is to teach us so to live that our strength may be as
our days" (p. 105).3 If man ceases to believe in a personal
Imnortality, he "becomes more filled with the desire for
an immortality in his seed" (p. 106). Again, the emphasis
is on function rather than dogma. As he says in Ancie
Mts "there are, of course, Protestant natures as there
are those by nature agnostic, and those believing In every
fibre; and Heaven is, without doubt, wide enough for us
all" (p. 61).

3H9 also makes this observation in one of his late
novels, Henr for H (p. 299).


To return to A Cal Heaven may be wide enough for
Grimshaw and Pauline, but it is the Cypriote girl who can
"pass the time of day by well-heads and shady groves" (see
pp. 47-48), who most fully lives. God gives a maiden eyes

to use them in Innocent glances, and the teaching of the
Church produces smiles, not scruples* Although the Greek-
Orthodox priest operates as Ford's mouthpiece, the pagan
side of Catholicism Is not overelaborated, like Galaworthyls
fear felt by a coursed rabbit (see p. 9). For the priest,
Catholicism is dogma, and the world is a lonely place
(p. 215). He does not smile himself, but displays a
"haughty curve of his brows" when he challenges Grimshaw
to "go out into the world,""and "help all that you may"
(p. 222). As he leaves Grimshaw, he appears "tall,
haughty, his brows arched, his hair curled and his beard
tended," and he casts looks, "apparently of Indignation,
at the chestnut-blosoms of the avenue" (p. 223). Through
fasting he hopes to give himself "to the angelic hosts"
(p. 215). When Grimshaw suggests that fasting, by over-
burdening the body, can "demoralize the image of our Creator
and Saviour," the priest thunders, his eyes blazing "far
back in his skull":
"We have mortified this our body which is from
the devil, and in the lowness of the tides of
this life we see the truth. For I tell you that
when we see this place to be lonely, then, in-
deed, we see the truth, and when we say that It is
pleasant, we lie foully" (idn.).

In other words, Catholicism, as Fordts priest conceives it,
is not all shady groves. Ford's priest, however, is no

more than that, lacking the flesh and blood that characters
in novels should aspire to.
The priest has been discussed at some length because
he is one of the few characters in Ford's early novels
Introduced for the sole purpose of expressing Ford's own
views, A further examination of A Cl's Impressionist
shortcomings might profitably await an examination of two
novels in which Ford does not pretend to curb his views.
One is Mr. Apollo-4 a kind of religious parable; the other
Is M. leight 5 a political and social satire. Mr. Apollo,
though a pagan, has a message not unlike the priest's:
"And of this thing be certain--that to a God it
is nothing if his worshippers be few or many or
none at all, since it is not from the fumes of
altars that the Gods grow fat nor through the be-
liefs ot worshippers that Gods exist. But it is
by the wo hopping of Gods that men attain to
The novel itself is a parable of charity in a materialistic
Frances and Alfred Milnep Ford's Edwardian Baucis and
Phiamon, are rewarded for their hospitality and out of
gratitude make Mr. Apollo their household god. On the
other hand, the Reverend Mr. Todd, a missionary in the

AJust Posible StOrY (London, 1910),
5(London, 1913).
6_ 1kApollo p. 308.

the slums of London, is punished for his consummate self&sh.
ness. Considered as a character Ford set going to express
views opposite to his own, Mr. Todd is extravagantly over-
elaborated. He is the epitome of all that Ford disliked in
shibboleths like muscular Christianity# the duty of every
man to England, and spiritual efficiency; in short he is a
materialist. As he escorts Mr. Apollo through the slums of
London in order to demonstrate his puffed up benignity,
Mr. Apollo asks him: "What were the aspirations of all
these people" (p. 36). Todd unaccountably replies:
"They--they fill graveyards":

And this answer was so foreign to him that he had
'a pause in which to recover his breezy and comfort-
ing common sense. How could he have answered with
such an extraordnary--with such an obviously im-
proper phrase? 'Nell," he thought to himself, "it
was the odd questions which called for odd answers."
If he had asked--as he ought to have--what was the
population of the city; what proportion of that popu-
lation were of the criminal class; how many belonged
to the Established Church; what were the rents of
the shops; or what even was the average income of the
inhabitants of this parish of the middling poor?
But their aspirations! And what became of them!

It is obvious that this is caricature. The novel itself Is
a parable, an illustration of the idea that men attain to
happiness by the worshipping of gods, Yet the predicament
of men and women without God is expressed with sympathy.
Attempting to restore her husband's faith in himself,
Frances Milne remembers the pupils who remember him and
the friends who respect him. But she feels that "these
things could be proved by mere numbers":

Only what are mere numbers to a weary man? Life
was a thing so gradual and so slow it, was like
gliding down a stream. She was Just strong
enough to stand it; he not quite strong enough,
unless, as it were, there came some sign from
the bank of the stream, From outside; from some
one with a totally different outlet. And who was
there? To whom could she pray? There did not
come into her view of the scheme of things a
deity to whom she could look for a sign. A
little before she would have considered it
against her principles to look for a sign. Now;
moved by this sudden pang, by the idea of her
functions, of motherhood and of a comforter, she
would have prayed. Bat to whom? What she most
loved In the world was in danger--for need of
the proof that he was lovable (pp. 168-169).
It is not these sentiments, but the action that is incred-
The predicament of the Xllne' s, that of being without
Ood, is more or less the predioament of the principals in
An nlish Girl.7 Like the prin ipals of A Call they only
have their scruples, their sense of duty and honor, and
their idealism, virtues that frustrate the happiness of
the hero and heroine. In An Xnglish irl a Roman Catholic
who loves life, Count Canzano, tells the idealistic hero
that he has his finger for ever on the pulse of his ethics
(p. 150).8 The hero, Don Kelleg, an American who wants to
reform his dead fatherts financial empire, loses the
heroine, Eleanor Grevelle, the English girl with the

7A Romance (London, 1907).
8Here, Canzano uses one of Ford's own phrases about
Protestantism. In The Spirit of the People, Ford maintains
that before the Glo_1 voluion' ofL 6b, which imposed
Protestantism on England for good, "a man could live without
his finger upon his moral pulse" (pp. 81-82).

English ideal of "a life that runs smoothly, decently,

quietly--a life in which every man and woman knows exactly
his part and has exactly his ideas" (p. 304). Canzano
condemns her for casting Kelleg off, saying "May God form-
give you. And if I have succeeded in making you suffer

here on earth may it be a means of leading you to repentance
and to a shortening of your hours in Purgatory" (p. 308).

Like the priest in A Cll Canzano draws a moral; he does,

however, have some dramatic function.

In Mr. Plelgt. the vitriolic Mr. Blood, who has gone
to some trouble to make a monied but rather spineless Jew

a political and social celebrity, issues the following

And doesn't it make you think that God has gone to
sleep? If He hadn't Hed wash the whole unclean
lot of us with one tidal wave into the Atlantic
(p. 194).

Mr. Blood is running Mr. Fleight for Parliament by "bribery

on a wholesale scale." He has bought up a review, bought
off Fleight's mistress, and is about to buy Fleight a re-

spectable wife, the Teutonic Journalist Augusta McPhail.

As he tells Augusta:
It's the dirty comedy of life being unrolled
before your eyes. It's the thing that modern
life has become the disgusting thing that it has
become. I'm trying to crush it all up into a
short period so as to make the affair all the more
an object lesson--or, rather, all the more of a
Joke, because I don't care whether anybody learns
anything from it or not. I'm not a social reformer
(Pp. 193-194).

This is part of his "God is asleep" Jeremiad. How-
ever he issues others. For instance, he tells the liberal
Mr. Fleight:
"Well, look at the telegraph clerk that you told
me about. That's the type of the utterly use-
less person your conditions have produced. An
almost incredible chatterer with a head full of
snippets and a mouth that was a perfect geyser of
democratic balderdash. That's what you produce.
That's what you'll be producing through the whole
nation--a crowd of fools, too discontented to do
an honest Job, but too filled by their education
with uneasiness to do anything to lose the Job
they've cadged themselves into. It's the worst
type the world has ever produced in any age or in
any nation, and the circumstances that have pro-
duced you are responsible for it" (pp. 252-253).
The novel itself is a vehicle for Fordfs own views on
his society, views largely political and social. It has
been noted in connection with the Tudor trilogy that Ford
believed "our modern state is defective; we have compro-
mised, as we are perpetually compromising." Thomas Crom-
well, in destroying Catholicism and the rule of the noble,
prepared for Protestantism and the "democratic instrument"
(see p. 28). In The 1irit o the People, although Ford
handsomely recognized that England is the home of freedom,
he also points out the effects on English character of that
final victory of freedom, the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
It "did away with personal Royalty; it did away with
priesthood; it did away emphatically with the Arts, or
rather with the artistic spirit as a factor of life which,
carried as far as it has been carried in England, has
earned for the English the title of a nation of hypocrites"

(p. 81). Ford continues that the Glorious Revolution did
away with loyalty to a personal King, producing instead
loyalty to the Throne, an Institution "whose main purpose
was to conserve definite Interests--those mainly of Protes-
tantism and the moneymaking classes" (p. 82). The sentimental
movement was also substituted for "the responsible enjoy-
ment of life," and Individualism, or the right to free
competition, was substituted for "the true Torylsm which
is Socialism" (p. 83).
In some of his poetry the man who styled himself a
sentimental Tbry is sometimes rather brutal about the life
of his time:
I've smiled at Whigs intoning Whiggery
To keep the Labour market down; at Tories
Sickening for office...
God I've backed up..'s
With proper letters in the Daily Press
Ive smiled at Dowagers and Nonconformists;
At wriggling dancers; forty pianists;
Jew polltliams; Front Bank Statesments 1's
Yankee conductors of chaste magazines.
God, fill my purse and let me go away.
In the "Preface" to his Colleted Poems Ford writes that he
wrote poetry "under the stress of certain emotions" (p. 9).
It is plan that the above passage, purporting to be a
translation by a German poet, represents strong feeling.
Mr. Fl2eiht is just as vitrioll, but the vitriol comes in
a comic flask.

9"Sussmund's ,Address to an Unknown God,'" Collected
Poems (London, 1914), p. 63. In what purports to be A
trainilation, Ford demurs that the blanks Indicate words
that are untranslatable.

The novels comic tone is set by its aristocratic
Jeremiah, Mr. Blood. "He was said to have strangled a
groom at Newport, Rhode Island, where, presumably. grooms
are cheap" (p. 1). The groom has doped Mr. Blood's horse
for a bribe of a thousand dollars, "not enough to set a
groom up in a hotel, and too much to get drunk with, He
should have taken a five pound note or twelve thousand
pounds.-nothing between; that would have made it a wanton-
ness or a crime" (p. 17), something Mr. Blood would have
borne with equanimity.
"But that this should be an age when a man will
betray the nice horses that ought to be like his
own children--democracy and education and that sort
of sneakiness being the coin of the realm--that
was what you could not stand" (idem.).
It is actually Mr. Flight talking, trying to diagnose
Blood#s motives. Blood agrees with the diagnosis, object-
ing only to the phrase "nice horses" (p. 18), a sentimen-
tality in Blood's book.
If the reader can accept the strangled groom, he can
accept everyone else, There is Gilda Leroy, a shopgirl
with delusions inculcated by romantic novels, who behaves
"like the ladles in her books" (p. 100) by conmitting suicide
when she learns that Mr. Flight doesn't love her. There
is the Teutonic journalist, Augusta 1koIhail* "honest, in-
dtstrious, filial, virtuous, and immensely determined"
(p. 30), who swaggers about and poses "like the male pro-
prietor of five cheap daily papers" (p. 188), and to whom
Mr. pleight succumbs In ecstasies of self-abnegation. There

is the Whig Chancellor of the Exchequer, who expostulates
"in an almost shocked tone of voice":
We can-t possibly be old-fashioned, because
we're inspired by the great fin* truths. They
don't ever grow stale. Mhe greatest good for
the greatest number for instance" (p. 274).
There is Mr. Debenham, the Whig party whip, who finds him-
self for political reasons, at an offbeat meeting of the
Enamel Club, a society for the abolition of baths. Forced
to give a speech, he indulges in his one talent, "that of
mimicry" (p. 69),
Nevertheless, Mr. Debenham began his perora-
tion, we were the great, proud and noble empire that
the members of the Enamel Club knew themselves to
be--an empire where freedom from prejudice and
noble intellect flourished--as he felt sure when
he. gazed upon them--in such a way as it had never
done probably since the fabulous Augustan Age. And
were they to be told that the victories of peace
had been gained in the British bath tub? Perish
the thought I (p. 70).
Finally, there is the vice chairman of the Enamel Club,
Cluny Macpherson, a gossiping post-Wildean aesthete who
writes verse like this:
The enamelled copper of Ho fP San's lawns
Reverberates with tinkles of the lute ---
(p. 35).
In Mr F1I9ght it is the excess of the characters' qualities,
the unabashIng indulgence in caricature, that makes the
views they hold, and Ford's own views, dramatically palatable.
By contrast, Ford's views in A Call seem out of place, even
though he goes to some trouble to avoid overelaborating
these views. Tn a sense, his most effective novel of the
Edwardian Age, Mr. Flight is effective because Ford has

abandoned the Impressionist scruple of avoiding or oonceal-
Ing prejudice*
It Is perhaps time to turn to that second stricture
that Ford makes on impressionism, control of the authors

comments. A O is again an impressionistic case in
point. Fordts comments are not prefixed by the obtrusive
"I," nor do they disturb the reader by salutations such as
"dear" or "gentle." Generally, the comments are expository

in intention, providing through summaries on the authors
part information the reader must know. In A Call Ford
remarks on Grimshaw's English public-school training, on
his facile sense of honor adapted to the life of no strain.
Ford does not pause to moralize cn Grimahawfs deficiencies,
He contents himself with the parenthetical generalization
that these traditions are "so infectious," In other words,
Ford says that there are others afflicted with them. Thus:
He was revealed to himself for the first time
by words over which he has no control. in this
agony and this prickly sweat the traditions--
traditions that are so infectious--of his English
public-sohool training, of his all-smooth and
suppressed contacts in English social life, all
the easy amenities and all the facile sense of
honour that is adapted only to the life of no
strain, of no passions; all these habits were gone
at this touch of tortuve (p. 281).
The adjectives "easy" and "facile" and the phrase "of no
strain" are to some extent indulgences in author-
Interpretation, a mild form of the moralizing interpola-
tion in Ford's imaginary passage from Vanit r: "But
such things must be when to the moral deterioration of

illicit sex passion is added the infuriating spur of undue
indulgence in alcoholic beverages" (see p. 1). Ford, how-
ever, seldom overtly holds up his story to reflect on its
In his other novels, however, he does Indulge In
whimsically insouciant intrusions, such as the following
from Ladies Whose Rright :
So was ended this singular and famous tournament,
and of this the chaplain of the Dean of Salisbury
says in his chronicle that there was never such
another one in Christendom# But in this he errs.
For there was one between ladies somewhere in the
South-of France, but I have forgotten the place and
name, io
In The Lovell there are several phrases involving the
editorial we, such as "now let us turn"11 and "let us con-
sider" (p. 251), and in Mr. Apollo there are some "I have
sald's" (pp. 170, 20, 246), as well as an unduly protracted
discussion of Mr. Apollo's favorite philosopher,
Egathistotheopompus, it appears, had been a
philosopher much esteemed by such worshippers of
the heathen deities as remained in the outer
parts of the Roman Empire during the fifth cen-
tury (p. 48).
Ford goes on to mention this philosopher's theory of human
imperfection and his theory of historical cycles (p. 49).
The digression has some affinity with Fielding's disquisi-
tion on the rutting season which Ford belabored as author

10A R nce (London, 1911), p. 317.
1A Romance (London, 1913), p. 204.

intrusion (see pp. 11*12). Yet most of Ford's comments, if
inded they can be called that,, adhere to Fordts canon of
appropriateness to the work. They are largely blocks of
panoramic summary, often located in the beginning, or close
to the beginning, of a novel.
The beginning of A Call provides an example of this
It was once said of Mr. Robert OGrIshaw: "That
chap is like a seal"--and the simile was a singu-
larly Just one. He was like a seal who is
thrusting his head and shoulders out of the water,
and, with large, dark eyes and sensitive nostrils,
is on the watch. All that could be known of him
seemed to be known; all that could be known of the
rest of the world he moved in he seemed to know.
He carried about him, usually, in the crook of his
arm, a polished, light brown dachshund that had
very large feet and eyes as large, as brown, and as
luminous, as those of his master. Upon the occa-
sion of Pauline Iucas's marriage to Dudley Leicester
the dog was not upon his arm, but he carried it
into the drawing-rooms of the many ladies who wel-
comed him to afternoon tea (pp. 1-2).
Perhaps inordinately, Ford proceeds to dilate upon the
dachshund's habits in order to get to Grimshaw's reaction
to the wedding, and to set the stage for a scene following
the wedding, a scene between Grimshaw and his confidante.
Elida Langham, The object of the scene is to disclose
Grimshaw's feelings for Pauline.
On page nineteen, initiating Chapter Two, Ford pauses
to compress Grimshawts history into six fairly straight-
forward pages. In the process, Ford mentions Grimshaw's
engagement with Katya Lascarides, and proceeds to speculate
on its rupture, and on Katya's subsequent activities:

But whatever the causes of the rupture, there
was no doubt that it was an occasion of great
bitterness. Katya tUscarides certainly suf-
fered from a species of nervous breakdown, and
passed some months in a hydropathic establish-
ment on the Continent; and it was afterwards
known by those who took the trouble to be at all
accurate in their gossip that she had passed
over to Philadelphia in order to study the more
obscure forms of nervous diseases, In this study
she was understood to have gained a very great
proficiency, for Mrs. Clement P. Van Husum, junior,
whose balloon-parties were such a feature of at
least one London season, and who herself had been
one of Miss Lasoarides' patients, was accustomed
to say with all the enthusiastic emphasis of her
country and race--she had been before marriage a
Miss Carteighe of Hoboken, N. Y.--tht not only had
Katya Lascarides saved her life and reason, but
that the chief of the Philadelphian Institute was
accustomed always to send Katya to diagnose obscure
cases in the more remote parts of the American con-
tinent. It was, as the few friends that Katya had
remaining in London said, a little out of the pic-
ture--at any rate, of the picture of the slim, dark
and passionate girl with the extroe, pale beauty
and the dark eyes that they remembered her to have
had (pp. 22-23

The tone and style of this passage, as well as of the
previous one, suggests "those who took the trouble to be
at all accurate in their gossip" (see p. 62). It is the
tone and style of "one English gentleman whispering into
the ear of another" (see p. 21), a gentleman free to refer
to Mrs. Van H&sum's balloom parties, to interject her
American antecedents, and to contrast Katya's professional
accomplishments with the picture commonly held of her, that
of a "slim, dark and passionate girl." Grimshaw is similarly
evoked through a gossiping narrator who seems to move on


The narrator's voice here is that of someone in
Grimhaw's circle. It has the cadence and idiom of Ford's
time. Likewise, in Ford's early historical novels, the
narrator's voice has the cadence and idiom of the period
Ford in dealing with. It has already been observed that
the narrator of The Fifth Queen seems to belong to Tudor
England (see pp. 36-37). In The Portrait, which is set in
the period of Walpole, the narrator's voice is that of a
gentleman of the Town:
This front of the house had been built compara-
tively lately--that is to say, in the youth or
Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect who wrote the
monstrously appreciated play called The Provoked
Wife. Sir John Brute, indeed, the husband of the
WVFoked Wife, was said by the town.12
In Ladies Whose Biht Re.. there are two voices, one
for the hero, a publisher who is transplanted to the
England of Edward III, and one for the age he finds himself
in. The dossiers of the two main characters, the modern
William Sorrell and the medieval Lady Dionissia de Egerton
de Tamworth, show differences in idiom and cadence:
His uncle, William Sorrell, senior, of the firm
of Sorrell and Sons, the publishers, established
in 1814--his venerable uncle, William, had then
offered him a share in the business direction of
the ancient and august house (p. 8).
* * # a * 0 0
Norman-French was her own language, for she was
of Norman blood on both sides, and of English
she had very little, for upon the Welsh border
the poor spoke Red Welsh alone, and that was a
language not easy to learn, and not very much worth
the learning (p. 137).

12(London, 1910), p. 100.

The language of the first passage, in this instance sen-
tentiouss is more or less modern, with a cadence struggling
through appositives. The second passage sounds medieval,
its cadence slipping through five coordinate clauses. Al-
though the differences are not always so extreme, the prin-
aiple, that of employing language and Its rhythm to give
the feel of an age, is worth one more citation. When, in
the medieval world, Sorrell is stabbed, "a great fountain
of blood poured from his throat, his mouth and nose, and so
he fell down and died as the blood ran from him" (p. 332).
When Sorrell awakes in his own world, he has "pain unbear-
able shed over all his limbs--such pain as makes one cry
out that no Destiny has the right to inflict it (p. 333).
Sorrell dies like the hero of a dispassionate medieval
chronicler. He Is resurrected like the victim of a rather
impassioned English novelist.
Although Ford often suited his narration to his sub-
Ject, particularly in his historical novels, he did not
always do so. To return to A Call which has perhaps served
more as a point of departure than an impressionist proto-
type, it is evident that Ford's English gentleman does not
always quietly whisper. At times he is displaced by a
novelist of considerably less refinement, and the style
is often saddled with indigestible pleonasms. "They
felt minute hands near their knees; they were parted by a
little child, who panted and breathed through her

nostrils" (p. 133)o "The healthy olive colour of his
clear, pale complexion seemed to have disappeared in a
deadly whiteness" (p. 139). ". . then they followed
them into the aisle between the columnar trunks" (p, 171).
Moreover, there is a plethora of superfluous comparisons
which often contribute to hopelessly mangled sentences
like this one: "It was, indeed, enough to see how from a
distance his enormous eyes pored like a spaniel's over her
tiny figure, or to see how, like a sprinter starting to
make a record, he would spring from one end of the drawing-
room to fetch her a footstool before she could even select
a chair upon which to sit down" (p. 226). In fact, the
effect of slight surprise is seldom achieved, for in A Cal
the style exhibits merely the usual word, not the fresh
usual word that Ford recommends (see p. 20). The mot juste
is not juWte enough. It is sometimes flat, sometimes
strident, sometimes unnecessarily florid, Here are in-
stances of all three flaws:
And, indeed, next morning his first sensation
was one of bodily well-being and of satisfaction
because the clock appeared to inform him that he
had slept for three hours longer than was his
habit (p. 78).
A 0 # 0 0 0 a 6 9 6
He must know; if he was to defend Pauline, to
watch over her, to brood over her, to protect her,
he must know what was going on. This passionate
desire swept over him like a flood (pp. 284-285).
In the black and tortuous streets, in the chilly
and silent night, her warmth as she clung to him
seemed to envelop him, and her subtle and comfort-
able Eastern perfume was round them, as it were an
invisible cloud. He appeared to hang back a little,
and she, leaning her body forward, her face back to
him, to draw him along, as in a picture a nymph

might lead away a stripling into scented ob-
scurities, into leafy woods (p. 63).
The nymph and stripling are embarrassing reminders that
the "poor bprssionist" of A OCal did not exclude "every
superfluous word" (see p. 43). The "poor Impressionist"
is writing with his left hand.
The images, like much of the style, also fail to ao-
complish the impressionist Intention. They seldom fasten
the reader to the story or make the reader feel that he is
in Grimahaw's world rather than In his study. In fact,
Ford makes only the feeblest effort to '!make you see" (see
p. 2). His method in the Tudor trilogy, the Juxtaposition
of the spectacle of the affair with the psychological states
of his characters, degenerates into a spectacle pared to
window-dressing and a psychology reduced to statement.
For instance, the sensations of Dudley Leicester, on the
morning after his seduction by Etta Hhdson, hedge at the
rendition Ford seems to have intended
"It's very odd," Dudley Leicester answered. And
with Saunders splashing the water in the white
bath-cabinet, and with a touch of sun lighting up
the two white rooms--in the midst of these homely
and familiar sounds and reflections, fear suddenly
seized Dudley Leicester. His wife's letter
frightened him; when there fell from it a brace-
let, he started as he had never in his life started
at a stumble of his horse. He imagined that it was
asort of symbol, a sending back of gifts. And even
when he had read her large, sparse words, and dis-
covered that the curb chair of the bracelet was
broken,* and Pauline desired him to take it to the
Jeweller's to be repaired--even then the momentary
relief gave way to a host of other fears. For
Dudley Leicester had entered into a world of dread
(pp. 80-81).

The water In the bath-cabinet and the touch of sun, which,
by being Juxtaposed with Leicester's fear, ought to render
It, are dissipated by Ford's statement that "fear suddenly
seized" Leicester amid "homely and familiar sounds and re-
flections." Like the sun and the bathwater, the bracelet
is not really used. It falls out of the letter without a
sound; it is neither seen nor felt. The letter accompany-
Ing It has large, sparse words, but the paper they are
written on Is insubstantial. In a moment of some intensity,
Leicester's "world of dread" is reported, not rendered. The
images are like "those droppings of the eyelids and tragic
motions of the hands* that Ford,, in his "Spilogue," confesses
to inserting (see p. 43). Like wallflowers they hover list-
lessly on the periphery, and few trouble to notice them.
Indeed, the fictional heroes and heroines of these
early contemporary novels seem to perform in cloudeapped
towers. Occasionally, as in An Mlish Girl the clouds
lift; New York City, at least, seems to rest, as Ford
intimates in his chapter heading, on solid land
There had been paper all over the pavements,
endless processions of little brasiers with tin
furnaces In the charge of dusky men with vivid
whites to their eyes. There had been inumer-
able children, bare-footed, with broken trousers
girt up to their shoulders, red-headed, or with
their heads Inverted, hidden in tubs that stood
upon the stones of the broken sidewalks (p. 211).
The world In Mr. FLeaht of turneocks, chimney sweeps, and
midwives, of aostermongers and public houses, also seems
real. For Instance, Mrs, Leroy has a Dickensian stock of
merchandise :

She sold penny yellow and black tea mugs that came
frm a pottery down Bristol way--tea mugs of a
pattern one hundred and fifty years old. She sold
brown moist sugar that was nearly black, and had
something the flavour of liquorice, . She sold
red herrings from a factory on the east coast that
had been established two hundred and fifty years,
and that had only three or four customers. She
sold medicinal herbs in packets and cooked pigEs
trotters--which she boiled herself--as well as
penny broad-sheet ballads that were hung up all
over the shop, and onions from Brittany that de-
pended in long ropes all down the window (p. 95).
Mr. Fleightte own world, in fact his own house, has gro-
tesque anchorage; around the eight pillars that support
his roof march "processions of maneless lions" (p. 133).
Yet it is anchored in the reality of satire, through both
a spare and unpretentious style and images that have Just
the righ* shade of inanity. Here style and imagery beauti-
fully collaborate to herald the idiot poet Cluny MacPherson's
entrance to the party that is the novel's final absurdity:
His coat-tails flew out behind him; he pounced
upon one end of a pink Turkey carpet as large as
an acre field and tried to drag it into a new
position over the polished floor that had been
prepared for dancing. He failed in his effort, and
he tried the corner of another that lay beside the
first one and failed once more to move it. In the
immense and empty space all his movements echoed
and re echoed, so that he might have been himself
initiating another Balaolava Charge, for bullet
shots appeared to be aimed at him from beside, from
above, and from each end of the hall. The silence
seemed to him, so unaccustomed was he to any form
of silence, boding, and inmensely agitating. Sweat
burst out upon his forehead, and he wiped it away
with a bright green handkerchief (p. 276).
All this is nothing new, nor is it anything particu-
larly impressionistic. Yet the details are far more
effective thn any of those in A Call. Although Robert


OrImshaw' s world is intended to be real, it seldom comes
alive. Perhaps because Grimshaw is an English gentleman
of public school training, his senses seem blunted. Behind
his back there is only "the perpetual crushing of feet and
whlper of Innumerable conversations, conducted in discreet
undertones" (pp. 150-151). Pauline Leicester, the girl he
loses, exclaims "Tragedlesi . Yes in our day and in
our class we don't allow ourselves easy things like daggers
and poison bowls" (see p. 46). The characters of A Call
are even. denied spectacle, "the foaming basin of bride-
ale" (see pp. 41-42), that makes the Tudor trilogy seem
real.. Finally, like Pauline, they ae too attenuated, and
their story is like a shadow play, When it is over,
Pauline can only look "down at her fingers that rested
upon the tablecloth" (p. 287).
Yet, Pauline here exhibits one of Ford's rare flashes
of rendition. Unlike much of Fordfs performance in A Call
and in his other novels of Edwsrdian England, the follow-
ing passage, with which the novel closes, in not mechanical:
The air was full of little noises--the clutter [sic]
of milknans, the monotonous sound of water pulsing
continuously from the mains, the voices of two nurses
as they wheeled their charges home from the Park.
The doorbell rang, but no one disturbed her. With
the light falling on her hair, absolutely motionless,
she looked down at her fingers on the white cloth
and smiled faintly (pp. 287-288).
Here one is reminded of the clamp closing the magnetic field
that Kenneth Young discerns in the Tudor trilogy (see p. 39).
Thus, Pauline, her hair absolutely motionless, smiles


faintlys the final touah to an impression built up by the
clatter of milk4oans, the monotonous sound of water, and
the voices of two nurses. In the context of the novel,
however, the rendition seems little more than a flourish.
Fordts fusion of Impressionism with meaning awaits his
most technically accomplished novel, 2 oldi .


Ford considered The Good Soldier the best novel of

his pre-war period, and, if the Tietjens novels were taken

separately, perhaps his finest technical achievement.1 It

was the first novel that he really took seriously, contain-

ing all that he knew about writing.2 Until he sat down to

write it, on December 17, 1913, he had "written rather

desultorily a number of books--a great number--but they

had all been the nature of pastiches, of pieces of rather

precious writing, or of tours de force":

But I have always been mad about writing, about
the way writing should be done, and partly alone,
partly with the companionship of Conrad, I had
even at that date made exhausting studies .into
how words should be handled and novels constructed

Shortly after the novel appeared, in 1915, it was

hailed by John Roker as "the finest French novel in the

English "language, "s and by Rebecca West as a "union of

inspiration and the finest technique."4 Douglas Goldring,

iMark Schorer, "An Interpretation," The Good Soldier:
A Tale of Passion (New York, 1951), P. xvT.
2Ford Madox Ford, "Dedicatory Letter," The Good
Soldier, p. xviii.
3shorer, p. xx.

40oldring, The Last, p. 73.

-- -


Ford's biographer, considers it his first "really adult

novel, the first with 'heart' in it, the first in which

pity and passion and resulting tragedy are the themes

which make their demands on his fully developed technical

equipment" (idem.). The first paragraph alone surpasses

anything Ford had written before:

This is the saddest story I have ever heard. We
had known the Ashburnhams for nine seasons of the
town of Nauheim with an extreme intimacy--or,
rather, with an acquaintanceship as loose and easy
and yet as close as a good glove's with your hand.
My wife and I knew Captain and Mrs. Ashburnham as
well as it was possible to know anybody, and yet,
in another sense, we knew nothing at all about them.
This is, I believe, a state of things only possible
with English people of whom, till today, when I sit
down to puzzle out what I know of this sad affair,
I know nothing whatever. Six months ago I had
never been to England, and, certainly, I had never
sounded the depths of an English heart. I had known
the shallows.5
All art resists analysis, but few works of art resist

it so stubbornly as The Good Soldier. Nearly every sentence

is thorny; yet no sentence is an island unto itself. For

instance, to determine the rightness of the third sentence,

it is almost necessary to have every sentence in the novel

by heart. It is a novel as closely written as a lyric


What one is left with is what Ford succeeded in

achieving--an impression, an impression of a saddest story

that is also inordinately gay, grotesque and irredeemably

5The Good Soldier, p. 3.

-::.j. ...-

vicious. It is both passionate and pitiless, and a little

terrifying. Mark Schorer remarks that ,we are looking at

events here as one looks at the image of a mirror in a

mirror, at the box within the box within the box, the arch

beyond the arch beyond the arch" (ix). Yet the mirrors hAve
"perfect clarity of surface" (idem.).

It is even difficult to force the novel into summation.

Although the chief events in the story are simple, their

causes and ramifications are complex. Briefly, the story

can be summarized, though much will be left out.

A Philadelphia gentleman, John Dowell, and his wife,

Florence, meet an English couple of impeccable deportment,
Edward and Leonora Ashburnham. Dowell, the narrator of the

novel, has never slept with Florence because of a heart
ailment she has feigned in order to remain true to her pre-

marital lover. Edward, the good soldier and, in public

matters, the epitome of the English country gentleman, has

hardly spoken a word to Leonora for years. For years, how-

-ever, the Dowells and the Ashburnhams have mingled socially,

in Paris and in the European spas that Florence frequents

for her heart.

CBelow the surface, the situation, unknown to the nar-
rator, is anything but tranquil.3 Almost from their first

meeting, Edward and Florence have been carrying on an affair,

an affair that Leonora is fully aware of, for It is not

Edward's first. Then, suddenly, Edward realizes that he is with a girj.-"f twenty-two, Nancy Rufford, whom the

Ashburnhams have sheltered for years. Just after Florence

finds out about this, by accidentally overhearing Edward's

passionate declaration to Nancy, she meets an Englishman

who knows about her premarital hijinks. The two shocks

cause Florence to commit suicide.

Nancy, in the meantime, has taken Edward's declaration

innocently. Edward, however, is stricken both with passion

and guilt, a fact his wife is aware of. At last, he decides

to send Nancy home to her father in India. Nancy, at

Leonora's behest, pathetically offers herself to him; he

tells her to leave; and finally, with Dowell, he sees her

off in the most correct gentlemanly fashion. When Nancy

cables him en route that she is having a wonderful time,

Edward commits suicide. Learning of this, Nancy goes mad,

and Dowell resumes his career of male nurse by looking after

her. Leonora marries "a man who is rather like a rabbit"

(pp. 238-239), Rodney Bayham, "who will keep a separate

establishment, secretly, in Portsmouth, and make occasional

trips to Paris and to Buda-Pesth" (p. 240). After protracted

miseries with Edward, she becomes the "happy wife of a per-

fectly normal, virtuous, and slightly deceitful husband":

She will shortly become the mother of a per-
fectly normal, virtuous, slightly deceitful son
or daughter. A happy ending, that is what it
works out at (p. 252).

To ask what all this means is to ask what it means for

the narrator, the unfortunate Dowell. Ford himself never

appears. His refusal to commit himself causes Hugh Kenner


to term the novel "a suspension of Judgment that looks like

technique and is in fact bewilderment":

The convention of the book is that the narrator
resolves it by writing it; the last turn of Ford
the technician's screw. If one seeks for a cen-
ter, one is driven through ironic mirror-lined
corridors of viewpoint reflecting viewpoint, and
this is of the book's essence; optical illusion of
infinite recession. Ford, one uneasily supposes,
doesn't himself know what his attitude is to the
situation he presents. -The gap between presenta-
tion and "values" is never bridged. Ford's pre-
sented values are those of the craftsman; the man
Ford, most compassionate of novelists, is himself 6
in an impasse, an impasse of sympathy for all sides.

Among other things, Kenner is saying that the narrator's

bewilderment is Ford's and that Ford could not risk more

than the presentation of this bewilderment. Here are good

people, the Ashburnham's, the Dowell's, Nancy Rufford, but

they lead "broken, tumultuous, agonized and unromantic

lives," that are "periods punctuated by screams, by im-

becilities, by deaths, by agonies."7 The narrator, adopt-

ing a Hamlet pose, one he quite frequently adopts, asks:

"Or are all men's lives like the lives of us good people"

(idem.)? His answer is "Who the devil knows" (idem.)?

Yet the narrator constantly struggles to discover

meaning in the story he tells. At his disposal are Ford's

components of an affair, "heredity, environment, the con-

catenation of the effects of the one damn thing after
another that life is--and Destiny who is blind and august,"

6Gnomen, pp. 168-169. Subsequent citations from Kenner
will be from-Gn
7The Good Soldier. p.

and out of these, like Ford's hypothetical novelist of

aloofness, he must shape his tale to comprehend "all the

history of the world" (see p. 6). It is his task to view

life as it is (see p. 6). Yet he is a man who hls insisted

on seeing life as he would like it to be, on seeing himself.

as he would like other people to think him. Thus, in a

sense, he is the opposite of Ford's notion of the novelist.

In The Good Soldier life as the narrator would like

it to be was once a minuet, and the narrator sees himself

as a model of propriety:

...on every possible occasion and in every pos-
sible circumstance we knew where to go, where to
sit, which table we unanimously should choose;
and we could rise and go, all four together,
without a signal from any one of us, always to the
music of the Kur orchestra, always in the temperate
sunshine, or, if it rained, in discreet shelters
(p. 6).

For I solemnly avow that not only-have I never
so much as hinted at an impropriety in my conver-
sation in the whole of my days; and more than
that,- I will vouch for the cleanness of my thoughts
and the absolute chastity of my life (pp. 11-12).
The narrator's only appetites, his only impatiences have

fastened on tiivialities. He has fears of missing trains

and is infuriated when they are late (pp. 46-47), and he

has a "watering tooth at the mere sound of the names of

certain comestibles" (p. 118). He considers himself a pro-

fessional nurser of hearts:

You have no idea how engrossing such a profession
may become. Just as the blacksmith says: "By
hammer and hand all Art doth stand," just as the
baker thinks that all the solar system revolved
around his morn de'l- ery of rolls; as the


pastmaster general believes that he alone is the
preserver of society--and surely, surely, these
delusions are necessary to keep us going--so did
I and, as I believed, Leonora imagine that the
whole world ought to be arranged so as to ensure
the keeping alive of heart patients (p. 47).

He was, of course, blind, for the life he"once saw was

not a minuet; "it was a prison--a prison full of screaming

hysterics, tied down so that they might not outbound the

rolling of our carriage wheels as we went along the shaded

avenues of the Taunus Wald" (p. 7). And the person he once

viewed as a model of propriety turns out to be a shadow of
Edward himself, yearning for Edward's passions, his adul-

teries, his ruinous sentimentalities. For, towards the end

of the story, the narrator says that in his fainter way he

has come into the category of the passionate, of the head-

strong, of the too-truthful:

For I can't conceal from myself the fact that I
loved Edward Ashburnham--and that I love him
because he was Just myself. If I had had the
courage and the virility and possibly also the
physique of Edward Ashburnham I should, I fancy,
have done much what he did. He seems to me like a
large elder brother who took me out on several ex-
cursions and did many dashing things whilst I Just
watched him robbing the orchards, from a distance.
And, you see, I am Just as much of a sentimentalist
as he was (pp. 253-254).

This is the culminating irony, that in telling the story the

narrator should see himself as its hero, that the resolu-

tion of the story is the narrator's assumption of qualities

he has never possessed. It is a terrible self-indictment,

for by his own testimony, as Kenneth Young points out, the
narrator is revealed as incapable of passion, sexual or
.moral (p.26): '
~ :. .-c.


You ask me how it feels to be a deceived husband.
Just heavens, I do not know. It feels like
nothing at all. It is not hell, certainly it is
not necessarily heaven. So I suppose It is the 8
intermediate stage. What do they call it? Limbo.

That is his habitation, the limbo of smoking rooms (idem.),

of hotel gardens in fashionable spas (p. 22), of places he

has only seen once, "like spots of color on an immense

canvas" (p. 14). He ends up sitting in Edward's gunroom,
"all day and all day in a house that is absolutely quiet":

No one visits me, for I visit no one. No one
is interested in me, for I have no interests.
In twenty minutes or so I shall walk down to
the village, beneath my own oaks, alongside my
own clumps of gorse, to get the American mail.
My tenants, the village boys, and the tradesmen
will touch their hats to me. So life peters out
(p. 254).

With him is Nancy Rufford, whom he once thought he might

m~rry, "as some people want to go to Carcassonne" (p. 121).

Had he not left for America after Florence's suicide, Jus-

tifying his flight with the excuse that he wanted "to do a

little fighting with real life" (p. 122), he could have

easily married Nancy, saving her from madness and Edward

from suicide. By the time he returns, summoned by a tele-

gram from Edward, it is too late. The Nancy who sits before

him at dinner can only say the one word "shuttlecocks," or

that she believes in an Omnipotent Deity (p. 254). The

perfect flush of health on her cheeks, the lustre of her

coiled black hair, the poise of her head upon her neck,

8The Good Soldier, p. 70.
".., -- .. : -

the grace of her white hands--for the narrator they "all

mean nothing" (idem.). Nancy is "a picture without a mean-

ing" (idem.).

In "Techniques," Ford speaks of the convention of put-

ting a novel into the mouth of a narrator "who must be

limited by probability as to what he can know of the affair

that he is adumbrating" (p. 33). It is perhaps more than a

turn of the technician's screw that the narrator of The Good

Soldier is limited by more than probability. He is limited

by his terrible inability to love. The reader sees what he

cannot see, and so, in their ways, do Edward and Leonora

and Florence. Edward blurts out the story of his passion

for Nancy Rufford because he "Just had to speak to somebody

and I appeared to be like a woman or a solicitor" (p. 250).

As he tells Leonora his plans for isolating Florence in a

shock-proof world, the narrator notices "about her face an

air of inattention as if she were listening, a mother, to

the child at her knee, or as if, precisely, I myself were

the patient" (p. 49). Florence is aware of his impotence

from thb first; yet, after their marriage, she occasionally

gives him an enigmatic smile:

It was as if she were saying: "I am going in
here. I am going to stand so stripped and white
and straight--and you are a man ... Perhaps
it was that (p. 88).

Although he cannot love, the narrator is the only person

in the novel who begins to understand the human heart.

Edward Ashburnham is a sentimentalist to the end, quoting

Swinburne on the brink of suicide ("Thou hast conquered
pale Galilean.") (p. 251). Leonora, an English Catholic

with a "nonconformist temperament" (p..60), puts up with

Edward's adulteriesand scrimps to restore his estate to

show "that in an unfaithful world one Catholic woman had

succeeded in retaining the fidelity of her husband" (p. 187).

Nancy Rufford believes that she can love Edward "from a

great distance, enveloping him, surrounding him, upholding

him" (p. 229), and she believes that she can possess his

soul (p. 228). According to her mood, poor Florence believes

that she is either "one of the great erotic women of whom

history tells us" (p. 118), or the "cool, balanced and sar-

castic...heroine of a French comedy" (pp. 118-119). Florence

has but two desires, to be a great lady installed in Edward's

manor, and to retain her husband's respect (p. 117).
Although the narrator cannot aove, and although he was

blind to the action when it happened, he knows more about

the characters involved in it than they do themselves--after

it is, unfortunately, too late. Edward Ashburnham never

really knbws the reason for his passions, and it is left to

the narrator to formulate it:

But the real fierceness of desire, the real heat
of a passion long continued and withering up the
soul of a man, is the craving for identity with
the woman that he loves. He desires to see with the
same eyes, to touch with the same sense of touch,
to be enveloped, to be supported. For whatever may
be said of the relation of the sexes, there is no
man who loves a woman that does not desire to come
to her for the renewal of his courage, for the cut-
ting asunder of his difficulties. And that will be

the mainspring of his desire for her. We are all
so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need
from the outside the assurance of our own worthi-
ness to exist (pp. 114-115).

This last sentence reminds one of the "sign from the

bank of the stream" (see p. 54), that Frances Milne, in

Mr. Apollo, needs so desperately. If the narrator's mirror,

as it were, reflects his own impotence, it also registers

what almost everyone in the novel seems to lack. What is

it, the narrator asks, a man wants? What does he need "from

the outside" to give him the assurance of his own worthiness

to exist? For Edward Ashburnham, a woman is not enough, al-

though he risks everything on one woman after another. Nor

is his code of behaviour enough. His final repression of

his passion for Nancy Rufford results in actions that are
"pefectly-- . monstrously, . cruelly--correct"

(p. 246). Like the good soldier that he is, the "excellent

magistrate, . one of the best landlords . in Hamp-

shire, England" (p. 11), he must send Nancy away. And so

Nancy goes mad, and Edward, sentimentalist to the end, ex-

claims: "So long, old man, I must have a bit of a rest,

you know" (p. 256).

Thus, the irony is double edged. A narrator who per-

ceives nothing senses the underlying cause of the catastrophes

he has refused to become involved in. For, finally, Edward

is the victim of his own beliefs. He turns to women because

Leonora, out of an equally misplaced nonconformist Catholi-

cism (p. 146), attemptsato curtail his expenditures as feudal

landowner. Yet, when he finds his great passion, his feudal

code prevents him from realizing it.

This impasse seems to be what R. P. Blackmur has in

mind when he maintains that, in The Good Soldier "feudalism,

sensuality, Roman Catholicism, are, all three, forces which

prevent the people in this book from coping with the real

world and which exacerbate their relations to it" (see

p. 31). What should be assurances that make life signifi-

cant are the lost causes of Ford's "ancestral Utopia" (see

p. 31). What Blackmur is saying is that Ford allowed his

prejudices to determine his action. By.leaving out the real

world, which Blackmur phrases as "the ambience of positive

sensibility," and "our sense of...causes in the forms in

which they are still to be struggled for" (p. 127),[ord

made The Good Soldier a picture without a meaning)

Blackmur is disarmingly glib about what Ford'a lost

causes were. He finds them in the historical novels,

Ladies Whose Bright Eyes and A Little Less than Gods and

maintains that the first extols medievalism and the second

extols Napoleonism (p. 125). He does not trouble to ack-

nowledge that A Little Less than Gods appeared sixteen years

after The Good Soldier, and that its subject, as will be

shown, is not so much Napoleonism, in the sense of Blackmur's

phrase of power without virtue, but a kind of demi-godism,

to coin a phrase, employed for the benefit of humanity.

Nor does Blackmur admit that medievalism is not the summum

.bonum in Iadie6 W i t Eyes, Rather, the heroine of

this novel seems to be saying Just the opposite, though, in

all fairness to Blackmur, her "message" has its'melodrmatic


"We have our glorious moments andf even if our
lives go to pieces, if disasters come, and ruin,
and death, we shall have had our glorious moments,
and that's all there is in life, and that's all
there ever was."9

Despite Ford's concern with medieval life, his mild profes-

sion of Catholicism, and his reservations about the life of

his own time, there is no evidence that Ford relegated an

"ambience of positive sensibility" to, say, the thirteenth

or fourteenth century. "Heaven," he says in Ancient Lights

"is, without doubt, wide enough for us all" (see p. 50).

In one sense, however, Blackmur is right about The Good

Soldftr. Certainly, Edward Ashburnham's world is affected
by his feudalism. The same holds for Leonora's Catholicism

and Florence's "sensuality," a phrase Blacknur uses to ac-

count for a great deal. Edward's feudalism, however, has

its sentimental modifications and Leonora's Catholicism its

nonconformist habiliments. Florence's sensuality is more of

a manifestation than a cause, a manifestation of an inability

to love that resembles the narrator's. She is really neither
one of the great erotic women of history nor the heroine of

a French comedy. Finally, she is simply poor dear Florence,

who goes out of everybody's life "like yesterday's paper."10

9Ladies Whose Bright Eyes p. 361.

-IO)e Good Soldier. p. 120.

None of these worlds is a world of feudalism, Catholicism,

or, to allow Blac1miur his. phrase, sensuality per se. More-

over, as they appear in The Good Soldier, the worlds of

Edward, Leonora, and Florence are almost entirely cut off

from any kind of real world. None of them, and least of all

the narrator, can cope with the real world because, in The

Good Soldier. it does not exist. J. Alfred Prufrock has

lingered by the chambers of the sea; his most immediate

antecedent, John Dowell, has known only smoking rooms, "peopled

with incalculable simulacra amidst smoke wreaths" (p. 71). His

story, and Ford's accomplishment, is both a triumph of aloof-

ness and a terrifying, and terribly comic, reductio ad absurdam

of that worst of sins--despair.

The unreal world of The Good Soldier is made overwhelm-

ingly real through a Juxtaposition of instances that was, for

Ford, she heart of impressionism It is a Juxtaposition, .as

Hugh Kenner observes "without copula of chapter with chapter,

incident with incident, character with character, word with

word" (see p. 19). The result is a special kind of ordinari-

ness set against ordinariness on a slightly different plane

(see p. 17). The essence of these Juxtapositions has been

ably defined by Caroline Gordon as a tone that keeps "remind-

ing us of the human condition .... Almost every sentence is a

little world in itself, in which man's ineptitude, feeble-

ness, blindness, are constantly measured against the infinite.11

11 Howto Read a 'Novel:feWkYork, 1957), p. 146.

Miss Gordon cites the wonderful scene where the nar-

rator learns that Florence was Edward's mistress. Florence

is dead, Edward is dead, Nancy Rufford is about to go mad.

About a week after Edward's funeral, Leonora tells the nar-

rator that it was stupid of Florence to commit suicide, an

act he has also been unaware of.12 Leonora then says:

*You couldn't be more of a brother to me, or more
of a counsellor, or more Of a support. You are
all the consolation I have in the world. And
isn't it odd to think that if your wife hadn't
been my husband's mistress, you would probably
never have been here at all" (p. 104)?

It is, of course, terribly odd, for the price off Leonora's

consolation has been the death of Edward and Florence, and

the madness, though Leonora doesn't yet know of this, of

Nancy Rufford. The full effect of Edward's death is reserved

for Leonora's opening remark:

She looked across the lawn and said, as far
as I can remember:
"Edward has been dead onl ten. days and yet
there are rabbits on the lawn.
I understand that rabbits do a great deal of
harm to the short grass in England. And then she
turned round to me and said without any adornment
at all, for I remember her exact words:
"I think it was stupid of Florence to commit
suicide" (p. 105).

The finite, as Caroline Gordon points out, is juxtaposed

with the infinite (p. 146). As a model landlord, Edward

would not have allowed rabbits on the lawn. His keeping them

off is, in fact, a reductio ad absurdam of his whole code of

behavior. His death, like the rabbits, becomes an absurdity

12The Good Soldier-...p. 105.

when the narrator speaks of the harm done to the short

grass in England. Yet, it all seems quite natural, as

though it were the way "good people" talk about death.

This mode of revelation, what Mark Shorer terms comic

irony, pervades the novel.13 For Shorer, Ford's comic

genius is shown "in the characteristic figures, the rather

simple-minded and, at the same time, grotesquely comic

metaphors" (idem.):

...a girl in a white dress in the dark is "like
a phosphorescent fish in a cupboard"; Leonora
glances at the narrator, and he feels "as if
for a moment a lighthouse had looked at me";
Leonora, boxing the ears of one of Edward's
little mistresses, "was Just striking the face
of an intolerable universe" (xiv).

The effect, here a relation through metaphor that is both

relation and Juxtaposition, is grotesque, but never too

grotesque. Madneas often seems perfectly sane, as in the

narrator's exclamation: "God knows what they wanted with
a winter garden in a hotel that is only open from May till

October.14 "I had determined, if not to make her mine, at

least to marry her" (p. 78), he says of Florence. When

Edward and Florence first meet, the narrator "is passing

the nickel-silver basket of rolls" (p. 34). On the after-

noon his cuckoldom is initiated, he sees from a train

window a "brown cow hitch its horns under the stomach of a

13"An Interpretation," p. xiii.
14The Good Soldier P. 75.
. .,-. -...


black and white animal" (p. 42). The black and white cow
is thrown Into a stream, an event that so delights the nar-

rator that he chuckles over it "from time to time for the
whole rest of the day":

Because it does look very funny, you know, to see
a black and white cow land on its back in the
middle of a stream. It is so exactly what one
doesn't expect of a cow (idem.).

Perhaps the shock of surprise that Ford terms the prine
requisite of art lies here, in a tone that makes the grotesque

familiar, the mad sane (see p. 20). If the rabbits on the

lawn and the cow in the stream reflect the essence of the

tone, the accidents range from bathos to a rather disarming
affability. When Florence appropriates Edward, Leonora, "in

a frenzy of self important drama," as Mark Schorer describes

her (p. xiv), soliloquizes:

"Oh, where are all the bright, happy innocent
beings in the world? Where's happiness? One
reads of it in books."15

Three pages 'further the narrator genially alludes to

Edward's first amour:

Of course, at that date, I had never heard of
the Kilsyte case. Ashburnham had, you know,
kissed a servant girl in a railway train and
and it was only the grace of God, the prompt
functioning of the communication cord, and the
ready sympathy of what I believe you call the
Hampshire bench that kept the poor devil out of
Winchester Gaol for years and years. I never
heard of that case until the final stage of
Leonora's revelations (p. 49).

15The Good Soldier, p. 46.
~.e .'r..

His affability, however, immediately dissolves into crocodile

tears laced with a neat dram of self-pity:

Bat Just think of that poor wretch . I,
who have surely the right, beg you to think
of that poor wretch. Is it possible that such
a luckless devil should -be tormented by blind
and inscrutable destiny (idem.)?

Within this range, the novel has an almost perfect

unity of tone. Nearly every inflection, every cadence, is

in the right place. And the style constantly collaborates

to give the fresh word that is unobtrusively usual, to give

the cadence that can either disturb or allay. The narrator

takes on the quiet whisper of an English gentleman (see p. 20),

with each phrase, even each comma, fastidiously arranged:

Living, as we perforce lived, in Europe, and
being, as we perforce were, leisured Americans,
which is as much as to say that we were un-
American, we were thrown very much into the
society of the nicer English (pp. 3-4).

He constantly pauses for interjections, from his .affected
"perforce" about his aversion to America to his final hedg-

ing "perhaps" Just before Edward commits suicide:

I didn't know what to say. I wanted to say:
"God bless you," for I also am a sentimentalist.
But ') thought thab perhaps that would not be
quite English good form, so I trotted off with
the telegram to Leonora. She was quite pleased
with it (p. 256).

Even his screams are discreet, shading off into "the shaded

avenues of the Taunus Wald":

No, by God, it is false! It wasn't a minuet
that we stepped; it was a prison--a prison
full of screaming hysterics, tied down so
that they might not outsound the rolling of
our carriage wheels as we went along the shaded
avenues of -,thr Taunus Wald (p. 7).


The effect is Just what Ford recommends for an impressionist's

style, a style that is not quite juste (see p. 20).

This texture of tone and style is only part of Ford's

accomplishment. Structurally, the novel displays a Juxta-

position of chapter with chapter, incident with incident,

and character with character that Hugh Kenner discerns as

one of Ford's contributions to the novel (see p. 19). Ford's

procedure in The Good Soldier is Just the opposite from the

chronological procedure of, say, Dickens in David Copperfield.

Chronology had been disturbed before, to some extent, for

instance, in Ellen Dean's story in Wuthering Heights, but

Ellen is prevented from following her story "in true gossip's

fashion,"16 by a listener who insists on some kind of

chronology. The listener in The Good Soldier, however,

though assumed, is silent, and so the narrator can proceed

more or less as he pleases:

And when one discusses an affair--a long, sad
affair--one goes back, one goes forward. One
remembers points that one has forgotten and
one explains them all the more minutely since
one recognizes that one has forgotten to mention
them in their proper places and that one may
have given, by omitting them,. a false impres-
sion. I console myself with thinking that this
is a real story and that, after all, real stories
are probably told best in the way a person tell-
ing a story would tell them. They will then
seem most real (p. 183).

In The Good Soldier, chronological narration is the

exception rather than the rule. It is usually pursued in

16The Pocket Library, p. 73.

~~ ..-

connection with a "point that one has forgotten," one that

has to be explained "more minutely" in order not to give a

"false impression." For instance, the history of Nancy

Rufford is withheld until after she figures in

leading up to and following Florence's suicide. The crucial

event is Edward's declaration of love to Nancy, which Nancy

misconstrues as mere paternal approval (p. 112) but which

sends Florence running to her death (p. 116). It is not, in

fact, until he has announced his intention to marry Nancy

that the narrator, as though pausing to catch up, describes

her and relates her history. "She was tall-and strikingly

thin; she had a tortured mouth, agonized eyes, and a quite

extraordinary sense of fun" (p. 123). She is just over

twenty-one (p. 124), her father, a major in the army, is
"violent madman of a fellow" (p. 125), her mother a shrew

and a tramp (p. 126). Leonora discovered her at a convent

school, her father went to India, and "Nancy herself lived

gradually into the life of Branshaw Teleragh" (p. 127).

The narrator then proceeds to carry the story of Edward

and Nancy up to Edward's renunciation of her (pp. 127-133).

At this point, however, it is time for him to interrupt the

Edward-Nancy story, as it were, and give the early history

of Edward and Leonora, something he has previously only

suggested (p. 133). Halfway through he interjects: "I

don't know that a very minute study of their progress toward

complete disunion is necessary" (p. 139). He then proceeds

with a minute- study that-dccuP14s eleven pages.