When Ford Madox Ford published No More Parades, the second of the four novels that make up Paradeís End, in 1925, he was likened to Proust and Joyce. Three years later the final instalment, Last Post, was the biggest commercial success of his career. (In 1915 The Good Soldier had brought in £67.) Ford being the man he was, though, his triumph was confused. Was Last Post part of his master plan or was it a slightly botched afterthought? Ford sometimes took the second view, which prompted Graham Greene to exclude the novel from his edition of the sequence in 1963. Then there was the question of where Paradeís End should be shelved: along with Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway? With Goodbye to All That and All Quiet on the Western Front? Or in the nook reserved for cultish para-Jamesiana like Howard Sturgisís Belchamber? Buoyed up by these undecidables itís stayed more or less afloat, not as visible as The Good Soldier but not as neglected as Fordís partisans sometimes like to make out. Copies used to be quite difficult to find and Carcanetís critical edition costs £75.80, but thanks to the five-part BBC/HBO adaptation that came to an end last month, blurry paperbacks can now be had for less than a fiver.
LRB 11 October 2012 | PDF Download