Max Saunders quoted Ford’s description of the British military funeral practice of shifting from the Last Post into exuberant march music, seeing the vertiginous movement between elegy and exhilaration as an example of classic Ford. He traced that effect through the endings of the last three volumes of Parade’s End and, noting the appropriate nature of the journal’s title, he suggested it was also an excellent time to launch it, close to Ford’s birthday and to the centenary of Armistice Day. He recalled Ford and Biala’s voyage to New York in 1934 and their encounter with the ‘Nazi Professor’, who wanted to put all Jews, Catholics and Communists up against the wall and shoot them, suggesting that Ford would have strongly disliked everything about Donald Trump. Reviewing Ford’s changing reputation over the past twenty years or so, he pointed out that Ford has become a usual subject in studies of modernism and that, largely because of the International Ford Madox Ford Studies series, comparative studies have increased dramatically, helping to clarify and enforce Ford’s place in literary history. Knowledge of Ford’s lesser-known works is also far more extensive now. With the prospect of a complete edition from Oxford University Press, Max predicted Ford entering ‘a new phase of visibility’, in which the journal can play a significant part.
The journal’s general editor, Paul Skinner, had brought a couple of dozen copies of the inaugural issue—they’d arrived from the United States on the previous day—which prompted a very positive response. He touched on the differences between Ford’s and his own editorial experience, the latter offering no dances, parties, dinners or music-hall outings but a frequent exchange of updates and queries with the editorial board.
Our guest speaker was Delia da Sousa Correa, senior lecturer at the Open University and general editor of Katherine Mansfield Studies. She talked about the beginnings of the Society and the journal, and its subsequent development over many years (its first Newsletter emerged in December 2008). The extent and ambition of the Society’s activities and publications was hugely impressive and Delia also showed some superb images that had appeared in various Society publications or as jacket designs. Her talk certainly stimulated a number of ideas about possible future collaboration and journal themes.
All the omens are good. We’re already looking forward to the next issue.