Ford Madox Ford
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- What the artist wishes to do — as far as you are concerned — is to take you out of yourself. As far as he is concerned, he wishes to express himself.
- Only two classes of books are of universal appeal: the very best and the very worst.
- Joseph Conrad : A Personal Remembrance (1924)
- 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.
- Parade's End: No More Parades (1925) [Random House, ISBN 0-14-11-8661-5] (p. 307)
- No author, I think, is deserving of much censure for vanity if, taking down one of his ten-year-old books, he exclaims: "Great heavens, did I write as well as that then?" for the implication always is that one does not write any longer so well and few are so envious as to censure the complacencies of an extinct volcano.
- For the judging of contemporary literature the only test is one's personal taste. If you much like a new book, you must call it literature even though you find no other soul to agree with you, and if you dislike a book you must declare that it is not literature though a million voices should shout you that you are wrong. The ultimate decision will be made by Time.
- The March of Literature (1939)
The Good Soldier (1915)
- This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
- Part One, Ch. I (p. 3) first line; Ford had originally intended the work to be titled The Saddest Story.
- You may well ask why I write. And yet my reasons are quite many. For it is not unusual in human beings who have witnessed the sack of a city or the falling to pieces of a people to set down what they have witnessed for the benefit of unknown heirs or of generations infinitely remote; or, if you please, just to get the sight out of their heads.
- Part One, Ch. I (p. 5)
- Our intimacy was like a minuet, simply because on every possible occasion and in every possible 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.
- Part One, Ch. I (p. 6)
- 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 the Taunus Wald.
And yet I swear by the sacred name of my creator that it was true. It was true sunshine; the true music; the true splash of the fountains from the mouth of stone dolphins. For, if for me we were four people with the same tastes, with the same desires, acting — or, no, not acting — sitting here and there unanimously, isn't that the truth? If for nine years I have possessed a goodly apple that is rotten at the core and discover its rottenness only in nine years and six months less four days, isn't it true to say that for nine years I possessed a goodly apple?
- Part One, Ch. I (p. 7)
- I couldn't regard myself as personally repulsive. No man can, or, if he ever comes to do so, that is the end of him.
- Part Two, Ch. I (p. 122)
- Pride and reserve are not the only things in life; perhaps they are not even the best things. But if they happen to be your particular virtues you will go all to pieces if you let them go.
- Part Four, Ch. I (p.185)
- It is a queer and fantastic world. Why can't people have what they want? The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has got the wrong thing. Perhaps you can make head or tail of it; it is beyond me.
Is there any terrestrial paradise where, amidst the whispering of the olive-leaves, people can be with whom they like and have what they like and take their ease in shadows and in coolness? Or are all men's lives like the lives of us good people — like the lives of the Ashburnhams, of the Dowells, of the Ruffords — broken, tumultuous, agonized, and unromantic lives, periods punctuated by screams, by imbecilities, by deaths, by agonies? Who the devil knows?
- Part Four, Ch. V (pp. 237-238)
- She asked him perpetually what he wanted. What did he want? What did he want? And all he ever answered was: "I have told you". He meant that he wanted the girl to go to her father in India as soon as her father should cable that he was ready to receive her. But just once he tripped up. To Leonora's eternal question he answered that all he desired in life was that — that he could pick himself together again and go on with his daily occupations if — the girl, being five thousand miles away, would continue to love him. He wanted nothing more, He prayed his God for nothing more. Well, he was a sentimentalist.
- Part Four, Ch. V (pp. 240-241)
- Mind, I am not preaching anything contrary to accepted morality. I am not advocating free love in this or any other case. Society must go on, I suppose, and society can only exist if the normal, if the virtuous, and the slightly deceitful flourish, and if the passionate, the headstrong, and the too-truthful are condemned to suicide and to madness.
- Part Four, Ch. VI (p. 253)
- Yes, society must go on; it must breed, like rabbits. That is what we are here for. But then, I don't like society — much. I am that absurd figure, an American millionaire, who has bought one of the ancient haunts of English peace. I sit here, in Edward's gun-room, 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. I shall return to dine and Nancy will sit opposite me with the old nurse standing behind her. Enigmatic, silent, utterly well-behaved as far as her knife and fork go, Nancy will stare in front of her with the blue eyes that have over them strained, stretched brows. Once, or perhaps twice, during the meal her knife and fork will be suspended in mid-air as if she were trying to think of something that she had forgotten. Then she will say that she believes in an Omnipotent Deity or she will utter the one word "shuttle-cocks", perhaps. It is very extraordinary to see the perfect flush of health on her cheeks, to see the lustre of her coiled black hair, the poise of the head upon the neck, the grace of the white hands — and to think that it all means nothing — that it is a picture without a meaning. Yes, it is queer.
- Part Four, Ch. VI (p. 254)
Quotes about Ford
- The first war had ruined him. He had volunteered, though he was over military age and was fighting a country he loved; his health was broken, and he came back to a new literary world which had carefully eliminated him. For some of his later work he could not even find a publisher in England. No wonder he preferred to live abroad — in Provence or New York. But I don't suppose failure disturbed him much: he had never really believed in human happiness, his middle life had been made miserable by passion, and he had come through — with his humour intact, his stock of unreliable anecdotes, the kind of enemies a man ought to have, and a half-belief in a posterity which would care for good writing.