Parade's End

Parade's End

Book - 1992
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Ford Madox Ford's acclaimed masterpiece is widely considered one of the best novels of the twentieth century.

Parade's End was originally published in four parts ( Some Do Not . . ., No More Parades , A Man Could Stand Up --, and Last Post ) between 1924 and 1928. It explores the world of the English ruling class as it descends into the chaos of World War I, as seen through the life of Christopher Tietjens, an officer from a wealthy family who is torn between his unfaithful wife, Sylvia, and his suffragette mistress, Valentine. With scenes of sexual warfare that rival the devastation of its battlefield scenes, Parade's End is a profound dramatization of one man's internal struggles during a time of brutal world conflict. The culminating achievement of Ford's career, it fulfills his ambitious conception of the novelist's role as the historian of the present, capturing the essence of the age.

Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, c1992
ISBN: 9780679417286
0679417281
Branch Call Number: FORD F
PR6011.O53 P35 1992
Characteristics: xlix, 906 p. ; 21 cm

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bbock291
Nov 30, 2016

If considering for an elective book report, the text will be challenging. A combination of advanced vocabulary, English slang, English dialects, and passages in French that are not translated, might make the book frustrating for readers under 18.

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DWIGHT A GREEN
Mar 12, 2016

This series of novels, spanning the years just before to just after World War I, focuses on Christopher Tietjens. Tietjens is a brilliant government statistician who volunteers for the war.

You can summarize the plotline easily but it will not convey the power from his design in telling it. What actually happens in the books is revealed almost incidentally as the consciousness of the characters mull over the history and context of what is happening in order to bring meaning to the action. Ford’s process makes the nature of understanding and perception a central focus of the books.

In looking at Christopher Tietjens, we see an austere brand of ancient Englishness, passive but dignified. Despite holding him up for ridicule, Ford has him succeed in impossible, changing times. Tietjens succeeds because he embraces the English countryside whose features are “pleasant and green and comely. It would breed true.” The land, having threatened to engulf him and his regiment during the war, remains the one true force that has survived and will continue to do so. Throughout the books, Ford criticizes both pre- and post-war conditions in England, some of which is personified in the Tietjens irony. Christopher seeks a foundation in the past while overlooking the full effect of it, such as the confiscation of the Groby estate from a Catholic family. The pastoral vision at the end stands at odds with the reliance on the industrialized Americans supporting it (not to mention the coal fields owned around Groby).

Despite the defeats meted out to Tietjens, he survives the social and political breakdowns by turning his back on the established order and embracing a pastoral life (albeit a dark one, as alluded to in the inherent contradictions above). Ford seems deeply ambivalent about the lost society as well as the new order. Tietjens, a throwback to an era that didn’t exist as remembered, upholds many of the virtues that were supposed to provide society’s foundation. In one sense, Ford tiptoes around the problem of wishing for traditional values which were unable to deal with modern problems by pointing out that the underlying virtues were only observed in their breach. By assigning a false nostalgia he lightens the contradictions a little. Ford proves to be extremely adroit when presenting contradictions which makes it difficult to ascribe exactly what he is doing. Multiple readings, or at least varied interpretations, are possible. It’s also possible he didn’t even know what he was ultimately trying to say, which may be the most satisfying answer for me.

One of my favorite books. It's a difficult read at times, but I think well worth it.

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lukasevansherman
Nov 15, 2014

"It has been remarked that the peculiarly English habit of self-suppression in matters of the emotions puts the Englishman at a great disadvantage in moments of unusual stresses."
I had to read this for an English class and never made it through, so I finally gave it another shot. Blimey, it's long. It's actually four novels (nerds call it a tetralogy): "Some Do Not. . .," "No More Parades," "A Man Could Stand Up-," and "The Last Post." Coming in at over 900 pages, it was a real slog for me and I really had no interest, unlike some Americans, in boring British people being boring (see "Downtown Abbey"). Set during the first world war, it follows the aristocratic and boring Christopher Tietjens, who fights in the war and is in a love triangle with his faithless wife and his mistress. It was made into a miniseries a few years back, which may have sparked renewed interest in the book, which is highly acclaimed, but was not my cup of tea. Ford's other well-know book is "The Good Soldier." Fun fact 1: Ford changed his name from Ford Hermmann Hueffer to honor his grandfather, the painter Ford Madox Brown. Fun fact 2: Ford was friends with fellow modernist Joseph Conrad, and they collaborated on several books.

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LazyNeko
Jan 27, 2012

The stream of consciousness style makes the set of four novels difficult to follow at times, but the fascinatingly twisted and cursed marriage between Christopher and Sylvia held my attention through it all. Also, the style makes the WWI scenes more terrifying and disorienting.

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bbock291
Nov 30, 2016

bbock291 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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LazyNeko
Jan 27, 2012

"Doesn't every woman who's had a man to torture for years when she loses him?" the priest asked. "The more she's made an occupation of torturing him the less right she thinks she has to lose him."

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