When I was about 15 I was in Seattle and wandered to the Pike Street Market. Found a bookstore. And, in the back I found Ford Maddox Ford’s Parade’s End.
I read a big chunk of it on the bus coming back up to Vancouver. I’ve been reading it ever since.
I like long novels: Alexandria Quartet, The Jewel in the Crown (even when Scott is writing drunk), A Dance to the Music of Time, Sword of Honour, The Balkan and Levant Trilogies, War and Peace, I Claudius…and so on.
Some make brilliant television, most don’t. The Dance was awful. So I am eager to see Parade’s End which I would have thought was as unfilmable as Ulysses.
Through the good graces of my pal Kevin Grace I have just downloaded the first episode which aired tonight on the BBC. Should be fun. The ‘net is very cool indeed.
Update: Wonderful. Not the book; rather the essence of the book converted into something which you can watch on TV. I chat with my eldest son Simon about whether film can be literature. I don’t think it can. It is a different thing.
Tom Stoppard knows that. He is faithful to Ford “in his fashion”. The essence of Parade’s End is the failing attempt of Tietjens to hold to an upright, romantic, Tory ideal while the Edwardian world collapses around him. And, the fact is that he is smart enough to see the collapse and to see how he might survive it. The tension in the books, and here, is driven by whether he will succumb to the temptation to say “Good-bye to All That”. And over the next few weeks we’ll see how Sir Tom manages that ambiguous decision.
I can’t wait.
(Oh, and for those thinking this is a Downton Abbey clone…you have not even begun to see how deeply and fundamentally Ford understood the real Edwardian world and it’s annihilation. )