In sight of war

Sara Haslam

in Fragmenting Modernism

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780719060557
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700099 | DOI:
In sight of war

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Ford Madox Ford admired Ivan Turgenev, so it is not surprising that one comes across ideas borrowed, perhaps, from him in the later writer's work. In this case, though, there is a development at work; a development precipitated by World War I. Turgenev's self-confessed nihilist Bazarov expresses amazement at the tenacity of human belief in words – words that, in his example, can diminish and deaden a feeling of catastrophe. Were he to find himself instead in the volumes of Parade's End (or one of a number of other war novels), Bazarov's amazement would be tempered. Ford, post-war, has lost belief in words. He is often unsatisfied with the capacity of language to express the totality of thought or experience; speech constantly ‘gives out’, to be replaced by his most characteristic grammatical tool: ellipsis. Two quotations provide a framework for an exploration into how and why sight functions in the fragmentation of war. The first is from John Keegan's book, The Face of Battle; the second from Frederic Manning's novel, The Middle Parts of Fortune.

Keywords: Ford Madox Ford; Ivan Turgenev; World War I; Parade's End; language; John Keegan; Face of Battle; Frederic Manning; fragmentation

Chapter.  14978 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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