Ford Madox Ford’s masterpiece, a tetralogy set in England during World War I, is widely considered one of the best novels of the twentieth century.
First published as four separate novels (Some Do Not . . ., No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up—, and The Last Post) between 1924 and 1928, Parade’s End explores the world of the English ruling class as it descends into the chaos of war. Christopher Tietjens is an officer from a wealthy family who finds himself torn between his unfaithful socialite wife, Sylvia, and his suffragette mistress, Valentine. A profound portrait of one man’s internal struggles during a time of brutal world conflict, Parade’s End bears out Graham Greene’s prediction that “There is no novelist of this century more likely to live than Ford Madox Ford.”
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By Ford Madox Ford
Carcanet Press LtdCopyright © 1997 Gerald Hammond
All rights reserved.
The two young men — they were of the English public official class — sat in the perfectly appointed railway carriage. The leather straps to the windows were of virgin newness; the mirrors beneath the new luggage racks immaculate as if they had reflected very little; the bulging upholstery in its luxuriant, regulated curves was scarlet and yellow in an intricate, minute dragon pattern, the design of a geometrician in Cologne. The compartment smelt faintly, hygienically of admirable varnish; the train ran as smoothly — Tietjens remembered thinking — as British gilt-edged securities. It travelled fast; yet had it swayed or jolted over the rail joints, except at the curve before Tonbridge or over the points at Ashford where these eccentricities are expected and allowed for, Macmaster, Tietjens felt certain, would have written to the company. Perhaps he would even have written to the Times.
Their class administered the world, not merely the newly created Imperial Department of Statistics under Sir Reginald Ingleby. If they saw policemen misbehave, railway porters lack civility, an insufficiency of street lamps, defects in public services or in foreign countries, they saw to it, either with nonchalant Balliol voices, or with letters to the Times, asking in regretful indignation: "Has the British This or That come to this!" Or they wrote, in the serious reviews of which so many still survived, articles taking under their care, manners, the Arts, diplomacy, inter-Imperial trade, or the personal reputations of deceased statesmen and men of letters.
Macmaster, that is to say, would do all that: of himself Tietjens was not so certain. There sat Macmaster; smallish; Whig; with a trimmed, pointed black beard, such as a smallish man might wear to enhance his already germinated distinction; black hair of a stubborn fibre, drilled down with hard metal brushes; a sharp nose; strong, level teeth; a white, butterfly collar of the smoothness of porcelain; a tie confined by a gold ring, steel-blue speckled with black — to match his eyes, as Tietjens knew.
Tietjens, on the other hand, could not remember what coloured tie he had on. He had taken a cab from the office to their rooms, had got himself into a loose, tailored coat and trousers, and a soft shirt, had packed quickly, but still methodically, a great number of things in an immense two-handled kit-bag, which you could throw into a guard's van if need be. He disliked letting that "man" touch his things; he had disliked letting his wife's maid pack for him. He even disliked letting porters carry his kit-bag. He was a Tory — and as he disliked changing his clothes, there he sat, on the journey, already in large, brown, hugely welted and nailed golf boots, leaning forward on the edge of the cushion, his legs apart, on each knee an immense white hand — and thinking vaguely.
Macmaster, on the other hand, was leaning back, reading some small, unbound printed sheets, rather stiff, frowning a little. Tietjens knew that this was, for Macmaster, an impressive moment. He was correcting the proofs of his first book.
To this affair, as Tietjens knew, there attached themselves many fine shades. If, for instance, you had asked Macmaster whether he were a writer, he would have replied with the merest suggestion of a deprecatory shrug.
"No, dear lady!" for of course no man would ask the question of anyone so obviously a man of the world. And he would continue with a smile: "Nothing so fine! A mere trifler at odd moments. A critic, perhaps. Yes! A little of a critic."
Nevertheless Macmaster moved in drawing-rooms that, with long curtains, blue china plates, large-patterned wallpapers and large, quiet mirrors, sheltered the long-haired of the Arts. And, as near as possible to the dear ladies who gave the At Homes, Macmaster could keep up the talk — a little magisterially. He liked to be listened to with respect when he spoke of Botticelli, Rossetti, and those early Italian artists whom he called "The Primitives." Tietjens had seen him there. And he didn't disapprove.
For, if they weren't, these gatherings, Society, they formed a stage on the long and careful road to a career in a first-class Government office. And, utterly careless as Tietjens imagined himself of careers or offices, he was, if sardonically, quite sympathetic towards his friend's ambitiousnesses. It was an odd friendship, but the oddnesses of friendships are a frequent guarantee of their lasting texture.
The youngest son of a Yorkshire country gentleman, Tietjens himself was entitled to the best — the best that first-class public offices and first-class people could afford. He was without ambition, but these things would come to him as they do in England. So he could afford to be negligent of his attire, of the company he kept, of the opinions he uttered. He had a little private income under his mother's settlement; a little income from the Imperial Department of Statistics; he had married a woman of means, and he was, in the Tory manner, sufficiently a master of flouts and jeers to be listened to when he spoke. He was twenty-six; but, very big, in a fair, untidy, Yorkshire way, he carried more weight than his age warranted. His chief, Sir Reginald Ingleby, when Tietjens chose to talk of public tendencies which influenced statistics, would listen with attention. Sometimes Sir Reginald would say: "You're a perfect encyclopædia of exact material knowledge, Tietjens," and Tietjens thought that that was his due, and he would accept the tribute in silence.
At a word from Sir Reginald, Macmaster, on the other hand, would murmur: "You're very good, Sir Reginald!" and Tietjens thought that perfectly proper.
Macmaster was a little the senior in the service as he was probably a little the senior in age. For, as to his room-mate's years, or as to his exact origins, there was a certain blank in Tietjens' knowledge. Macmaster was obviously Scotch by birth, and you accepted him as what was called a son of the manse. No doubt he was really the son of a grocer in Cupar or a railway porter in Edinburgh. It does not matter with the Scotch, and as he was very properly reticent as to his ancestry, having accepted him, you didn't, even mentally, make any enquiries.
Tietjens always had accepted Macmaster — at Clifton, at Cambridge, in Chancery Lane and in their rooms at Gray's Inn. So for Macmaster he had a very deep affection — even a gratitude. And Macmaster might be considered as returning these feelings. Certainly he had always done his best to be of service to Tietjens. Already at the Treasury and attached as private secretary to Sir Reginald Ingleby, whilst Tietjens was still at Cambridge, Macmaster had brought to the notice of Sir Reginald Tietjens' many great natural gifts, and Sir Reginald, being on the look-out for young men for his ewe lamb, his newly-found department, had very readily accepted Tietjens as his third in command. On the other hand, it had been Tietjens' father who had recommended Macmaster to the notice of Sir Thomas Block at the Treasury itself. And indeed, the Tietjens family had provided a little money — that was Tietjens' mother really — to get Macmaster through Cambridge and install him in Town. He had repaid the small sum — paying it partly by finding room in his chambers for Tietjens when in turn he came to Town.
With a Scots young man such a position had been perfectly possible. Tietjens had been able to go to his fair, ample, saintly mother in her morning-room and say:
"Look here, mother, that fellow Macmaster! He'll need a little money to get through the University," and his mother would answer:
"Yes, my dear. How much?"
With an English young man of the lower orders that would have left a sense of class obligation. With Macmaster it just didn't.
During Tietjens' late trouble — for four months before Tietjens' wife had left him to go abroad with another man — Macmaster had filled a place that no other man could have filled. For the basis of Christopher Tietjens' emotional existence was a complete taciturnity — at any rate as to his emotions. As Tietjens saw the world, you didn't "talk." Perhaps you didn't even think about how you felt.
And, indeed, his wife's flight had left him almost completely without emotions that he could realise, and he had not spoken more than twenty words at most about the event. Those had been mostly to his father, who, very tall, very largely built, silver-haired and erect, had drifted, as it were, into Macmaster's drawing-room in Gray's Inn, and after five minutes of silence had said:
"You will divorce?"
Christopher had answered:
"No! No one but a blackguard would ever submit a woman to the ordeal of divorce."
Mr. Tietjens had suggested that, and after an interval had asked:
"You will permit her to divorce you?"
He had answered:
"If she wishes it. There's the child to be considered."
Mr. Tietjens said:
"You will get her settlement transferred to the child?"
"If it can be done without friction."
Mr. Tietjens had commented only:
"Ah!" Some minutes later he had said:
'Your mother's very well." Then: "That motor-plough didn't answer," and then: "I shall be dining at the club."
"May I bring Macmaster in, sir? You said you would put him up."
Mr. Tietjens answered:
"Yes, do. Old General ffolliott will be there. He'll second him. He'd better make his acquaintance." He had gone away.
Tietjens considered that his relationship with his father was an almost perfect one. They were like two men in the club — the only club; thinking so alike that there was no need to talk. His father had spent a great deal of time abroad before succeeding to the estate. When, over the moors, he went into the industrial town that he owned, he drove always in a coach-and-four. Tobacco smoke had never been known inside Groby Hall: Mr. Tietjens had twelve pipes filled every morning by his head gardener and placed in rose bushes down the drive. These he smoked during the day. He fanned a good deal of his own land; had sat for Holdernesse from 1876 to 1881, but had not presented himself for election after the redistribution of seats; he was patron of eleven livings; rode to hounds every now and then, and shot fairly regularly. He had three other sons and two daughters, and was now sixty-one.
To his sister Effie, on the day after his wife's elopement, Christopher had said over the telephone:
"Will you take Tommie for an indefinite period? Marchant will come with him. She offers to take charge of your two youngest as well, so you'll save a maid, and I'll pay their board and a bit over."
The voice of his sister — from Yorkshire — had answered:
"Certainly, Christopher." She was the wife of a vicar, near Groby, and she had several children.
To Macmaster Tietjens had said:
"Sylvia has left me with that fellow Perowne."
Macmaster had answered only: "Ah!"
Tietjens had continued:
"I'm letting the house and warehousing the furniture. Tommie is going to my sister Effie. Marchant is going with him."
Macmaster had said:
"Then you'll be wanting your old rooms." Macmaster occupied a very large storey of the Gray's Inn buildings. After Tietjens had left him on his marriage he had continued to enjoy solitude, except that his man had moved down from the attic to the bedroom formerly occupied by Tietjens.
"I'll come in to-morrow night if I may. That will give Ferens time to get back into his attic."
That morning, at breakfast, four months having passed, Tietjens had received a letter from his wife. She asked, without any contrition at all, to be taken back. She was fed up with Perowne and Brittany.
Tietjens looked up at Macmaster. Macmaster was already half out of his chair, looking at him with enlarged, steel-blue eyes, his beard quivering. By the time Tietjens spoke Macmaster had his hand on the neck of the cut-glass brandy decanter in the brown wood tantalus.
"Sylvia asks me to take her back."
"Have a little of this!"
Tietjens was about to say: "No," automatically. He changed that to:
"Yes. Perhaps. A liqueur glass."
He noticed that the lip of the decanter agitated, tinkling on the glass. Macmaster must be trembling.
Macmaster, with his back still turned, said:
"Shall you take her back?"
"I imagine so." The brandy warmed his chest in its descent. Macmaster said:
"Better have another."
Macmaster went on with his breakfast and his letters. So did Tietjens. Ferens came in, removed the bacon plates and set on the table a silver water-heated dish that contained poached eggs and haddock. A long time afterwards Tietjens said:
"Yes, in principle I'm determined to. But I shall take three days to think out the details."
He seemed to have no feelings about the matter. Certain insolent phrases in Sylvia's letter hung in his mind. He preferred a letter like that. The brandy made no difference to his mentality, but it seemed to keep him from shivering.
"Suppose we go down to Rye by the 11.40. We could get a round after tea now the days are long. I want to call on a parson near there. He has helped me with my book,"
"Did your poet know parsons? But of course he did. Duchemin is the name, isn't it?"
"We could call about two-thirty. That will be all right in the country. We stay till four with a cab outside. We can be on the first tee at five. If we like the course we'll stay next day: then Tuesday at Hythe and Wednesday at Sandwich. Or we could stay at Rye all your three days."
"It will probably suit me better to keep moving," Tietjens said. "There are those British Columbia figures of yours. If we took a cab now I could finish them for you in an hour and twelve minutes. Then British North America can go to the printers. It's only 8.30 now."
Macmaster said, with some concern:
"Oh, but you couldn't. I can make our going all right with Sir Reginald."
"Oh, yes I can. Ingleby will be pleased if you tell him they're finished. I'll have them ready for you to give him when he comes at ten."
"What an extraordinary fellow you are, Chrissie. Almost a genius!"
"Oh," Tietjens answered. "I was looking at your papers yesterday after you'd left and I've got most of the totals in my head. I was thinking about them before I went to sleep. I think you make a mistake in overestimating the pull of Klondyke this year on the population. The passes are open, but relatively no one is going through. I'll add a note to that effect."
In the cab he said:
"I'm sorry to bother you with my beastly affairs. But how will it affect you and the office?"
"The office," Macmaster said, "not at all. It is supposed that Sylvia is nursing Mrs. Satterthwaite abroad. As for me, I wish ..." — he closed his small, strong teeth — "I wish you would drag the woman through the mud. By God I do! Why should she mangle you for the rest of your life? She's done enough!"
Tietjens gazed out over the flap of the cab.
That explained a question. Some days before, a young man, a friend of his wife's rather than of his own, had approached him in the club and had said that he hoped Mrs. Satterthwaite — his wife's mother — was better. He said now:
"I see. Mrs. Satterthwaite has probably gone abroad to cover up Sylvia's retreat. She's a sensible woman, if a bitch."
The hansom ran through nearly empty streets, it being very early for the public official quarters. The hoofs of the horse clattered precipitately. Tietjens preferred a hansom, horses being made for gentlefolk. He had known nothing of how his fellows had viewed his affairs. It was breaking up a great, numb inertia to enquire.
During the last few months he had employed himself in tabulating from memory the errors in the Encyclopædia Britannica, of which a new edition had lately appeared. He had even written an article for a dull monthly on the subject. It had been so caustic as to miss its mark, rather. He despised people who used works of reference; but the point of view had been so unfamiliar that his article had galled no one's withers, except possibly Macmaster's. Actually it had pleased Sir Reginald Ingleby, who had been glad to think that he had under him a young man with a memory so tenacious, and so encyclopædic a knowledge....
That had been a congenial occupation, like a long drowse. Now he had to make enquiries. He said:
"And my breaking up the establishment at twenty-nine? How's that viewed? I'm not going to have a house again."
"It's considered," Macmaster answered, "that Lowndes Street did not agree with Mrs. Satterthwaite. That accounted for her illness. Drains wrong. I may say that Sir Reginald entirely — expressly — approves. He does not think that young married men in Government offices should keep up expensive establishments in the S.W. district."
"Damn him." He added: "He's probably right, though." He then said: "Thanks. That's all I want to know. A certain discredit has always attached to cuckolds. Very properly. A man ought to be able to keep his wife."
Excerpted from Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford. Copyright © 1997 Gerald Hammond. Excerpted by permission of Carcanet Press Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
|Some Do Not...||3|
|No More Parades||291|
|A Man Could Stand Up--||503|
|The Last Post||677|
What People are Saying About This
“There are not many English novels which deserve to be called great: Parade’s End is one of them.” —W. H. Auden
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A classic that everyone should read to understand the futility of war.
¿At the beginning of the war¿I had to look in on the War Office, and in a room I found a fellow¿What do you think he was doing¿what the hell do you think he was doing? He was devising the ceremonial for the disbanding of a Kitchener battalion. You can¿t say we were not prepared in one matter at least¿. Well, the end of the show was to be: the adjutant would stand the battalion at ease; the band would play Land of Hope and Glory, and then the adjutant would say: There will be no more parades¿. Don¿t you see how symbolical it was¿the band playing Land of Hope and Glory, and then the adjutant saying: There will be no more parades?¿ For there won¿t. There won¿t, there damn well won¿t. No more Hope, no more Glory, no more parades for you and me any more. Nor for the country¿nor for the world, I dare say¿ None¿ Gone¿ Napoo finny! No¿more¿parades!¿Ford Madox Ford made his reputation as a novelist on the war & peace themes. The Good Soldier (1915) is his most famous, and is on several different `Best 100 Novels of the Century¿ lists, as is his four-part Parade's End. The latter book was recently in the news, Tom Stoppard having just completed his adaptation for BBC television, the mini-series scheduled to air in 2011. This novel reminds me of other great chronicles of individual lives and war, in this case a chronicle of the life of Christopher Tietjens, "the last Tory," a brilliant government statistician from a wealthy land-owning family who is serving in the British Army during World War I. While this is generally considered a "war" novel it is unique in the way Ford has Tietjens' consciousness taking primacy over the war-events like a filter. Ford constructs a protagonist for whom the war is but one aspect of his life, and not always even the most prominent though he is in the middle of it. The two central novels follow Tietjens in the army in France and Belgium as he ruminates on how to be a better soldier and untangle his strange social life. In a narrative beginning before the war and ending after the armistice, Ford's project is to situate an unimaginable cataclysm within a social, moral and psychological complexity. The result is a modern literary project that rivals those of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time or, more aptly, Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy.
Masterly evocation of the Great War and the upheaval in British society which accompanied it. The POV drifts and weaves from first to third person, time is dilated, layer on impressionist layer is daubed, until Ford's subject is embedded in the very marrow of the reader.Every character is sumptuously drawn, every chain of thought is as natural, as solid and as wildly intricate as a spiderweb. This book is an aching lament with moments of roguish, cocksure humour.Half star knocked off for the marginal drop in perfection of Book IV.More ellipsis and exclamation marks per page than any other book.
Though in the swing of some monumental historical events, this is not exactly a novel in which things occur. It's an obsessively detailed, crushed-flat-against-the-window-of-the-car trip through the characters' innermost, intimate minds. I found Ford's protagonists, prose style and and thematic windings unique, compelling and inimitable; I will read this book for the rest of my life. I can understand not wanting to sit through it, however. It's binds the reader to one of the most idiosyncratic human psyches ever written up.
this book at it's best a non-linear, psychological puzzle of sorts. at it's worst a drawn out epic leaving little delight for at least this reader. to say that i hated every paragraph would be a gross overstatement. there is much to appreciate including the tension filled love pseudo-triangle between christopher, sylvia, and valentine. the author is unafraid to fully drench the reader inside each character's soul, to excavate even the basest of thoughts and motives. this sort of honesty in literature is to be commended. the beginning of each section is like waking up from a dream in a strange bedroom. you never know where you are, what is going on, what has happened previous. only slowly does the author reveal these things. all that said, this novel lacked so much that i appreciate in literature. it didn't draw me in as so many authors do. i approached the book each time as a duty instead of a joy and by the end it was a final push just to finish it. can i pinpoint any general reason? everything sounds so superficial so i leave it at this. some authors strike a note with certain people in not only what they say but in how they say it. from the first page to the last this ear never found the note that ford was pounding.
Where have you been.....connor and i broke up for good we havent been together for 4 days.....