A Reader's Guide to Unfamiliar Literature
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Categorization is odious. There is tremendous overlap among genres. These pigeonholes are offered only as a convenience.

Ford Madox Ford (1873 - 1939)

added by Marian

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Marian March 1st, 2006 08:09 PM PST

Begin by understanding that Ford was an IMAGIST, a colleague of James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. Like their poems, his novels aim at precision of imagery and language--not linear accounts of events. He is said to have pioneered the flashback as a literary device. But don't panic! You are meant to be confused. The pieces will finally merge into a whole.

This is especially true of THE GOOD SOLDIER. You are listening to a traumatized person revisiting the past after making a shocking discovery; his thoughts wander and jump, and he seems to assume that you (the listener-reader) already have the big picture. And eventually you will have it.

THE GOOD SOLDIER is not an easy read, but it deserves to be called one of the top 20th-century novels and it's not too long. I suggest that you start there, and after that perhaps read a pre-WWI book for contrast, before you dive into the FIFTH QUEEN trilogy or the four-part PARADE'S END.

editor July 18th, 2006 08:06 AM PST

FYI, background on FMF titles: "Parade's End" is comprised of four volumes: "Some Do Not," "No More Parades," "A Man Could Stand Up," and "Last Post." "The Fifth Queen" is a trilogy, starting with "The Fifth Queen" and continuing through "Privy Seal" and "The Fifth Queen Crowned." "Antwerp" is an anti-war poem. "The English Novel" and "The March of Literature" are books of criticism. "Return to Yesterday" and "It was the Nightingale" are both autobiographies. "Hans Holbein" is a biography.

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Assembled from several on-line bios:

Born Ford Hermann Hueffer in 1873, son of music critic Franz Hueffer, grandson of Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown , and nephew of poet Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Raised in "literary-artistic milieu" (to say the least). Published first book at 18. Married early and unhappily; numerous involvements with women including the novelist Jean Rhys.

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