|RECENT FORD SOCIETY ACTIVITIES|
King’s College London
All are welcome at ‘Reading Ford’, an open event organised by the Ford Madox Ford Society. With Ford currently attracting numerous new readers, it is an ideal time to explore the book-group approach to reading him as well as more individual experiences of his work.
Five speakers have been confirmed – honorary member Oliver Soskice, Hilary Green, Michael Goldman, Walter Hall and Sally Kirkwood – and we hope there will be the opportunity to have a more general discussion among those present.
It would be very helpful to have an indication of numbers – if you are intending to come, please email Sara Haslam: Sara.Haslam@open.ac.uk. And please pass the invitation on to anyone else that you think might be interested – everyone is welcome.
‘“We must go methodically into this!”:
Parade’s End and the Impossibility of
Dr Rob Hawkes
A talk by Dr Rob Hawkes, Part-Time Lecturer in English Studies at Teesside
THE FRIENDS OF STONY STRATFORD LIBRARY
A talk by Dr Sara Haslam, Senior Lecturer, Department of English,The Open University
Free entry by ticket available from the Library. Pop in or ring 01908 562562. For directions, Google ‘Stony Stratford Library’.
‘Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End: Modernism and the First World War’
27–29 September 2012
Institute of English Studies, University of London
In August–September, there was the brilliant five-part production – ‘one of the finest things the BBC has ever made’ (The Independent) – of Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Parade’s End, directed by Susanna White, and the insightful, sensitive and at times moving Who on Earth Was Ford Madox Ford? A Culture Show Special, written, produced and directed by Rupert Edwards. A DVD of the television series has been released (it includes a ‘Behind the Scenes’ documentary), Dirk Brossé’s soundtrack is available digitally and on CD, and Faber has published Stoppard’s script (with an Introduction by the author and ‘bonus scenes’).
If all that was not enough, in September there was ‘Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End: Modernism and the First World War’, a three-day conference at the Institute of English Studies. Speakers and delegates came from around the world to discuss and celebrate Ford’s First World War modernist masterpiece.
Twenty-six very impressive papers were presented:
After lunch on the Thursday, the keynote address, on ‘War and Division in Parade’s End’, was delivered by Professor Adam Piette (University of Sheffield), who began with a fine close reading of the Vorticist opening of No More Parades to develop ideas about pseudo-couples, male friendship, homo-duplex, voices and paranoia, emasculation, the domestic, and violence. In the evening, there was a public event attended by over one hundred people: a Q&A with special guests Susanna White and Rupert Edwards. Both talked about their admiration of Ford’s writing, the various demands of turning text to screen, and their working processes. They also let the audience in on a few secrets.
The Q&A was followed by a wine reception (sponsored by Carcanet Press, Oxford University Press and the Open University) and the launch of Carcanet’s four-volume critical edition of Parade’s End edited by Max Saunders (Some Do Not ...), Joseph Wiesenfarth (No More Parades), Sara Haslam (A Man Could Stand Up –), and Paul Skinner (Last Post). On the Saturday, the editors hosted a round-table discussion about the volumes.
Thanks to Max Saunders, delegates were treated to a screening of the three-part 1964 BBC adaptation of Parade’s End. A young Judi Dench presented a spirited, plucky Valentine but was outshone by Ronald Hines as Tietjens, who brought out the inner tensions of the character, and a scene with Sylvia (Jeanne Moody), in which she seemed to orgasm when thinking about her control over her husband, was remarkable.
On the Friday afternoon, the results of the ‘silent auction’ were announced. The family of Dr Jenny Plastow (friend, Fordian, and founding member of the Society) had kindly donated Jenny’s Ford-related books. The Society, whose funds have been significantly swelled, is sincerely grateful.
On the Friday evening, Society members gathered at Olivelli for the conference dinner, at which Joseph Wiesenfarth was presented a thank-you gift for his work over the years as US Treasurer. At the AGM on the Saturday, Seamus O’Malley accepted the nomination for the role.
Thanks to everyone who helped us over the three days, particularly the panel chairs John Attridge, Alexandra Becquet, Dominique Lemarchal, Seamus O’Malley, Gene Moore, Paul Skinner, Joseph Wiesenfarth, and Angus Wrenn. Special thanks must go to Charlotte Jones for running the bookstall and to Jon Millington at the IES for his help before, during and after the conference. Finally, thanks are due to everyone who attended and made the three days so enjoyable.
Ashley Chantler and Rob Hawkes, conference organisers
For further photos (courtesy of Alexandra Becquet), go to: Ford on Facebook.
The conference website is at: Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End.
The Edwardian Ford Madox Ford:
6-8 September 2011
For the 2011 conference, a cohort of Ford scholars followed The Good Soldier’s Nancy in going to Glasgow. Held in the Edwin Morgan writing centre, the conference thus brought together two Carcanet writers in memory, and fell under the auspices of the late Professor of Poetry at the University of Glasgow. The aim was to situate the Edwardian Ford, focusing on the period 1901-1914, the years during which Ford founded the English Review and collaborated with Joseph Conrad; comparing Ford to other of his Edwardian contemporaries and placing him within the cultural periodisation, the papers presented a reconsideration of the Fordian corpus which did not claim it from Modernism but rather extended its influence.
Opening the conference, Geraint Evans, Andrew Frayn and Kate McLaughlin mobilised Ford, placing a call for a technological reading by, variously, comparison with Henry James’ use of electronic communication, by viewing the text in space and time, and through the trope of Ford’s ‘e-Rhetoric’.
The next morning our third panel drew parallels between the early and late Edwardian; Leslie deBont spoke on the confessional affinity between the priest and the emerging figure of the analyst, bringing together A Call with May Sinclair’s Anne Severn and the Fieldings, while Maria-Daniella Dick performed a flight of fancy around the names of Ford Madox Ford and Stephen Dedalus. These followed Sara Haslam’s historicising of Ford through publishers, trends and markets, supplying a history of the book for the Edwardian period.
Max Saunders and Nisha Manocha explored imperial Ford in the fourth panel, respectively charting an ‘Empire of the Future’ in the imperialism and liberalism of The Inheritors and viewing The Good Soldier in its genetic context, ‘Documenting The Good Soldier’.
Returning to the metropolis, the sixth panel advocated a reconsideration of Ford’s Edwardian city poetry, Jess Owen examining the place of voice and speech in the Collected Poems of 1913 and Tim Freeborn the theme of Urban Impressionism in Ford, Harold Monro and Douglas Goldring.
The final day of the conference began with a penultimate panel that returned to fantastical Ford, Nick Hubble presenting on ‘The Condition of Edwardian England in Ford’s Fantasies’, while Kristin Gifford, in her paper ‘“Are you the chap who rang up 4,529 Mayfair?”: Class Anxiety Made Ridiculous in Ford’s A Call’, addressed both an early theme of the conference and a novel which received much critical attention over the three days, centralising their concerns around that text. The final panel concluded the day, with papers by Venetia Abdalla, who took up the ‘That Neurasthenia Joke’ in order to examine approaches to degeneration and eugenics in Ford and Violet Hunt, and Joseph Wiesenfarth who brought the event to a fine conclusion by placing Ford in context alongside E. M. Forster. Besides the high quality of individual contributions, the conference was notable for the running conversation between papers which lent the occasion a rare sense of intellectual coherence as well as conviviality.
The conference ended with an informal tour of the West End’s second-hand bookshops for those who lingered on for the afternoon, keen, unlike Nancy, to stay on in Glasgow.
John Coyle and Maria Dick, conference organisers
‘Ford Madox Ford and America’
23rd-25th September, 2010
CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue
The conference opened on a beautiful September afternoon, in an amazing location. The skylight room of the Graduate Center, at CUNY, offered an up-close view of the Empire State Building through its glass roof, impressively suggestive of windows, perspective, and vertical living in general, all ideas that would recur.
The opening panel compared James, Wells, and Ford in differing combinations. Papers by Angus Wrenn and Joseph Wiesenfarth considered the alienating modern metropolis as constructed by the ‘Rye group’, and looked at the essentially different responses to the First World War in James, Wells and Ford. Cosmopolitanism, which proved a touchstone throughout the conference, received its first treatment as an example of James’ and Ford’s differing political and cultural perspectives.
The second panel explored the role of American identity in several of Ford’s fictions. Sara Haslam examined aspects of physical space, from cities to war trenches, and noted how Ford builds his characters through travel. New York was assessed for its biographical importance to Ford, as well as its role (from financial powerhouse to ‘good time’ city) in his fiction. Adra Raine argued that The Good Soldier was a work of “total fiction,” and not, as is most commonly read, a drama of an epistemological crisis. Dowell thus has an American identity, but it is purely fictional and constructed. Anne-Marie Flanagan re-examined The Half-Moon, noting that it is more about the Old World than the New.
On Friday morning, the conference began with papers from Christopher GoGwilt and Patrick Deer, who examined Ford’s place in genealogies of English modernism, and transatlantic modernism, with particular reference to war. It Was the Nightingale and the transatlantic review featured prominently in each account, as did Ford’s critique of Englishness, both refracted through the idiosyncratic primacy of Fordian memory. GoGwilt explored the ambiguity of Englishness as manifested in Ford’s work as editor, and Deer similarly reads the transatlantic as a highly unstable place.
Panel 4 brought together papers with a sociological and political bent. Stan Green analysed Ford’s attempts to disentangle imagism from impressionism (preferably also upstaging Pound), using some provocative images to illustrate his discussion of two important dinners which took place two days apart in July 1914: one to celebrate Vorticism, the other Imagism. Meghan Hammond unpacked the 15 issues of Ford’s English Review to reveal that the apparently slight transatlantic interest is in fact made much more rich and complex with detailed study of James’ ‘The Jolly Corner’. One purpose of the English Review was to ‘overcome strange ignorances’. Ford wrote that editorial before James wrote his story, but Hammond’s paper examined the interest in the American mind fundamental to James’ text alongside ideas about American individualism propounded in Dickinson’s Letters from America series. Gene Moore’s paper tackled the legacy of slavery in the Great Trade Route. Beginning with Ford’s letter to Stella Bowen in which he described being ‘buried among southerners’ at the Tates in the West Village in 1927, Moore proceeded to explore what exactly Ford meant by various ‘souths’, how this affected his art, and why he was less programmatic in his politics regarding slavery in particular, than some of the women in his life.
In the last panel, Ford’s When the Wicked Man, and the New York context – chaos, claustrophobia, sexual incontinence and violence, financial and commercial energies – were re-introduced. While Elizabeth Foley brought Ford’s constructions of masculinity and femininity under scrutiny (partly via Jean Rhys), Rob Hawkes addressed the boundaries between fiction and autobiography in Stein’s ‘lost generation’, with a particular interest in the intertextual relationships between Hemingway and Ford. Bob McDonough’s paper offered a treatment of When the Wicked Man that reads it as an unsuccessful grafting of a depiction of the protagonist’s consciousness onto an American adventure story.
The Ford Madox Ford lecture was delivered by the novelist Mary Gordon. Best known for her novels and memoirs, Gordon also teaches creative writing at Barnard College. Her illustrated talk offered an evocative and persuasive examination of the different, and shared, impressionism of Ford and Janice Biala. Their ‘habit of response’ and ‘passionate dialogue’ were seen as the basis of a characteristic mode in both artist and novelist, which sustained them. Each could be rooted in Biala’s background in, and Ford’s ideas about, New York. Gordon took questions afterwards, in which she was asked what aspects of Ford’s technique she had found most influential as a writer and more on her views about Ford’s relationships with other women artists. The discussion developed into one about genre, and the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction in particular, and concluded with further details as to Gordon’s responses to Biala’s art.
Saturday morning offered a rare conference treat. Jason Andrew, representative of the Biala estate, opened a room at the Tibor Nagy gallery, further up Fifth Avenue, for a private view. Biala’s paintings and drawings were on view, as was a bound copy of Ford’s handwritten Buckshee Poems, and Biala’s copy of the Collected Poems, inscribed by Ford, but with a poem by William Johnson Cory copied out in the front by Biala, on June 26th, 1940, a year after Ford’s death.
Sara Haslam and Seamus O’Malley, conference organisers.
The conference programme is available in PDF format [49 KB]
Ford in France/Ford en Provence
The Society’s conference ‘Ford in France/Ford en Provence’ was held in Aix-en-Provence from the 10th to 12th September 2009. Thanks are due to Professor Claire Davison-Pégon for organising it locally for the University of Provence, our partner, and to Dr Gil Charbonnier for both hosting the conference and providing insight into Ford’s French connections.
Gil Charbonnier opened the doors of the Institute for French Studies, a charming hôtel particulier opposite the Cathedral, complete with inner courtyard and Provençal fountain, to welcome both Jason Andrew’s exhibition of Biala’s illustrations for Ford’s Provence and our conference.
Jason Andrew’s exhibition of works and photographs by Biala was all the more timely as Carcanet had just re-issued Provence, edited by John Coyle, who in his afterword calls Ford the Lieutenant Columbo of prose writers, an apt comparison. John kindly gave a presentation of the book in French, and Julia K. Gleich gave a memorable dramatised reading of a new selection of letters by Biala which Jason had selected from the Biala Estate.
The keynote lecture was delivered by Professor Hélène Aji, and we were delighted to be joined by Professor Hermione Lee, who delivered the Annual Ford Madox Ford Lecture. Both talks were well attended and very much enjoyed by the audience. While Professor Aji, a distinguished Poundian scholar, devoted her lecture to Pound’s and Ford’s common love for Provence and their letters to and from Toulon, Professor Lee took us to Proust’s funeral with Ford and other literary figures, and talked of his connections with French literary networks while in Paris in the 1920s.
The friendly spirit noted by Jason Harding in Durham continued, and in the frame of mind that is Provence, the quality of the papers addressing the subject of Ford and France proved consistently good, spanning the whole of Ford’s ‘dual life’. They connected his love of France to his beloved grandfather, Ford Madox Brown, and to the love of the troubadours he had inherited from his father, seeing Provence from the English heart of the country, passing from the mud of the trenches to the Mediterranean, from Between St. Dennis and St. George to the later novels, The Rash Act commanding quite a lot of interest.
A session was held in French to attract prospective publishers – one reason the Ford Society had decided on 2009 for the conference in France being that Ford would then be coming out of copyright. Though publishers did not attend in the numbers that had been hoped for, there has been some positive response since the conference, particularly in the form of interest in Ford’s non-fiction. Meanwhile, the project at hand remains to have Parade’s End published in French for the centenary of the Great War.
The Society now looks forward to mapping more of Ford’s intellectual life, in New York City in September 2010.
[Papers from the conference, including the lectures by Hélène Aji and Hermione Lee, will be published in Ford Madox Ford and France, International Ford Madox Ford Studies 10, ed. Dominique Lemarchal and Claire Pégon-Davison (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2011).]
Ford Madox Ford and Editing
The Ford Society enjoyed a productive, varied and fascinating conference in Durham. Thanks are due to Jason Harding for organising this event, and to the English Department and the University too for their support. The Annual Ford Madox Ford Lecture was given by Philip Horne, on Henry James, Ford and the English Review. The Keynote Lecture, by Martin Stannard, dealt with the subject of editing Ford. Other papers offered new insights on Ford’s editorial relationships, the English Review and modernism, and Ford’s biography and editing. Poetry readings and an excellent conference dinner provided entertainment in the evenings, and our location, almost next to the cathedral itself, was an added bonus. Jason is going to provide a more detailed write-up of the event once he has caught up with the deadlines the conference took him away from, but I should like to re-iterate my thanks to him here, and to all those who took part and contributed to the success of the event.
Ford Madox Ford: Visual Arts and
The conference on ‘Ford Madox Ford: Visual Arts and Media’ was held from the 17th to 19th September 2007. It was promoted by the Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione Linguistica e Culturale (Facoltà di Lingue e Letterature Straniere of Genova), the Università di Genova and the Ford Madox Ford Society. The baroque Palazzo Balbi Cattaneo, Aula Magna, Via Balbi, 2, provided a wonderful setting.
The highlights of the event were the Annual Lectures delivered by two outstanding authors, A. S. Byatt and Colm Tóibín, whose presence made the conference an even more memorable event. Byatt spoke on the discoveries of neuroscience concerning the perception of colour and explained how, as a writer, she can experience colour in either a painterly or non-painterly manner. She also discussed Ford’s use of the primary colours of folk tales in The Fifth Queen and Parade’s End. Tóibín, whose novel about Henry James, The Master, was published to acclaim in 2004, suggested a reading of The Good Soldier in the light of the fascination with double lives that Ford shared with other writers of the period: Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad. This duplicity, said Tóibín, finds its main avatar in Leonora who, he argued, is the most important Irish character since Trollope.
A variety of papers by international scholars provided new insights into Ford’s lifelong association with the arts and ranged widely across Ford’s production: his monographs on Hans Holbein, D. G. Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelites; his interest in portraiture as a painterly and literary genre; his avant-garde representation of war in Parade’s End; his connections with Stella Bowen and Janice Biala; his fascination with modernist painters like Matisse. Some papers focused on Ford’s involvement with a wide range of media and technologies: craftwork, furniture, cartography, the telephone, photography, and early cinema.
The conference was given coverage in the local newspaper, Il Secolo XIX (21 Sep. 2007), and, most notably, in the Times (24 Sep. 2007) with an article by Richard Owen, the correspondent in Rome.
It was a well-attended event, and the Society was pleased to see graduate and postgraduate students attending and contributing, several of whom were new to the Society’s activities. The tight focus of the conference encouraged everyone to join in a fruitful debate. Its proceedings will be edited by myself and published in Ford Madox Ford: Visual Arts and Media (2009), volume 8 of International Ford Madox Ford Studies (IFMFS).
The conference participants had an opportunity to visit the old town and port as well as some of the city’s art galleries. They also enjoyed an appetising welcome cocktail at The Old Port and a delicious conference meal in the atmospheric Garibaldi Histoire Café in the heart of the Renaissance city centre, next to the Palazzo Rosso where Conrad’s novel Suspense is largely set.
Dr Laura Colombino
And an article in Il Secolo XIX (in Italian).
Ford Madox Ford: Literary Networks and Cultural Transitions
The Ford Madox Ford Society held its 2006 conference at the Birmingham and Midland Institute on 14-15 September, in conjunction with the University of Birmingham. The conference topic was ‘Ford Madox Ford: Literary Networks and Cultural Transitions’, and a variety of papers were presented on Ford’s connections with a number of his contemporaries (including Wyndham Lewis, Dorothy Richardson, William Carlos Williams and James Joyce) and on some key concepts concerning the rise of modernist literature. The Annual Ford Madox Ford Lecture was given by Zinovy Zinik, who recollected brilliantly his first encounter with Ford’s work in Soviet Moscow during the 1960s; and a fascinating Keynote Address, delivered by Professor David Trotter, discussed some of Ford’s pre-First World War connections, particularly with Lewis and Joyce. The conference participants had a rather brief opportunity to visit some of the city’s art collections, which include works by Ford Madox Brown, and enjoyed a wonderful conference meal at Café Ikon in the heart of Birmingham’s city centre.
The proceedings of the conference will be edited by Andrzej Gasiorek and Daniel Moore and published in Ford Madox Ford: Literary Networks and Cultural Transitions (2008), volume 7 of International Ford Madox Ford Studies.