Paraphrasing Hokusai, Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939) once called himself an “old man mad about writing.” Ford’s phrase is apt: during his lifetime in England, France, and the United States, he published eighty-one books, produced four hundred and nineteen periodical articles, and contributed poems, stories, introductions, and the like to fifty-seven other volumes. Among Ford’s works are thirty-two novels, twelve volumes of poetry, seven memoirs, literary criticism, commentary, history, and biography. Writing was what Ford most wanted to do, and nothing—illness, poverty, discouragement, or personal calamity—kept him from it.

Ford devoted his best efforts to fiction, and it is primarily for his novels that he is now remembered. The Good Soldier (1915), a story of marital infidelity which Ford called “my best book,” is an acknowledged masterpiece....


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