The Good SoldiernbyJ.O. TatenFord Madox Fordnby Alan JuddnCambridge: Harvard University Press;n476 pp., $27.50nOne of the many vices I cultivate isna weakness for biographies. Annintelligent female once told me firmlynthat she didn’t read biographies. Shenthought them depressing: the subjectsngot old and died. I tried to indicate thatnshe was missing a lot, but she wasnadamant. I think now that if I were tonrenew my commendation of the pleasuresnof biography, I would point to AlannJudd’s new life of Ford Madox Ford asnperhaps an ideal place to start. Judd’snbook on Ford is a remarkable worknabout a remarkable man.nFor me, Judd’s book anticipated thenremark another educated female let outnin my hearing the other day: No, shenhad never read Ford because of hisnmisrepresentations of his relationshipnwith Joseph Conrad. Hers is a typicalnmistake. Ford was continually misconstruednduring his lifetime, and the misunderstandingsnhave outlived the man.nJudd’s life of Ford rectifies a host ofnerrors and dissolves various prejudices.nThere can be no question that thenreexamination of Ford’s career and relationshipsnwith many literary people isnjustified, though it has been done before.nIndeed, that is what provokednJudd’s book: several times he feelsnobliged to correct the logic or thenjudgment of Arthur Mizener, for example.nOn the other hand, Judd’s FordnMadox Ford cannot be said to constitutenor initiate a Ford revival if onlynbecause the best of Ford’s work—ThenFifth Queen, The Good Soldier, thenfirst three-fourths of the Teitjens tetralogynknown collectively as Parade’s Endn— never really disappeared from literarynawareness. I can myself remembernhearing about Ford from my parentsnand others in the 1950’s, v/hen then32/CHRONICLESnREVIEWSncream of his work was reprinted. Fordnhas been rediscovered again and again.nPerhaps these rediscoveries have beennnecessary because he did not fit easilyninto categories, and because his lifenwas, in some sense, a shambles. ButnAlan Judd has found a way to makenthat life cohere by focusing on Ford’snelusive personality and demonstratingnhis benignant nature.nFord Hermann Hueffer was born inn1873 in Surrey, and died under thenname we know him by in Deauville, inn1939. A grandson of Ford MadoxnBrown, he was brought up in a familynconnected with the Garnetts and thenRossettis; he was eariy touched bynCatholicism, Francophilia, and a reverencenfor art. His lifelong obsession withnwriting—he wrote over eighty booksnand four hundred articles — registerednearly. By the turn of the century Ford’snrelationships with Joseph Conrad,nHenry James, and Stephen Crane putnhim in the middle of the creation ofnmuch of modern literature: impressionismnand symbolism in fiction, and,nlater, free verse. As a genuine Bohemian,nFord was never to surrender hisnindispensable position, which was anmental point d’appui, never a platformnfor leveraging power. I think Juddnmakes clear just how a man whondoesn’t calculate everything accordingnto advantages of power and money isnforever misinterpreted by those whondo. And I think too that Judd hasnshown how a man who was no womanizernwas so often beloved of women,nnot all of whom understood the complexitynof his personality.nOut of the Romney marshes. Fordnhad a second life in London as henmidwifed the birth of literary modernism.nHis English Review was for a timenthe greatest literary magazine in thenworld, introducing to the public D.H.nLawrence and Wyndham Lewis.nWhen Ford was exasperated by a poeticalngaffe of Ezra Pound’s, he rolled onnthe floor, saving Pound “years.” It wasnhe who told Pound that poetry shouldnbe at least as well written as prose.nAfter those days and his involve­nnnments with Vorticism and Imagism,nFord concentrated everything he knewnabout the writing of novels in ThenGood Soldier (19l 5), his tour de force,nand joined the army. His patrioticnservices told on his health, while hisnartistic and personal inferiors continuednto live in ease in Bloomsbury. Yetnhis war experience did provide some ofnthe material and provocation for Parade’snEnd, in which “the last gentieman”nendures the collapse of the oldnculture into the new worid of industrialnpower.nFord kept on as he had done before:nhe wrote, he edited, he encouragednand taught the young, he was loved, henloved life’s finer pleasures. In his laternyears, his influence was amplified bynhis years in America. Judd doesn’tnemphasize the point, but through CarolinenGordon and Allen Tate —nthrough their novels as well as theirnteaching — Ford’s influence wasnbroadcast in this country and shows upnin the work of their students. Nevernprovincial, Ford had an international,ncross-cultural, and transatiantic impact.nAbove all, his impact was personal,nand Alan Judd has written a personal,neven Fordian, book about him. Judd’snbiography often relies on a sort ofnprivileged intuition and is bracinglynunacademic though bristlingly intelligent.nI suppose Judd identifies with hisnsubject—one man of letters understandingnanother — and that is as itnshould be. The result is a sympatheticnor empathetic study that’s untetherednby ordinary concern for documentation.nJudd has made his own rules andnjustified them, oddly subordinatingnsometimes the presentation of Ford’snlife to his comment on it. ReadingnJudd’s Ford Madox Ford is an offbeatnbut rewarding, even moving experiencenthat uncannily captures then”something else, something left over”n— the spirit, the sense of life itself—nthat is generally evaporated from ordinarynbiographies.nJ.O. Tate is a professor of English atnDowling College on Long Island.n