Ford Madox Ford And France

The advice Julian Barnes offers young writers is "study The Good Soldier as an example of perfect and completely original narration and at the same time study his life as an example of negative career management."

Julian Barnes and Hermione Lee tell the story of Ford Madox Ford - author of The Good Soldier and editor of a Paris based magazine which published James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and Jean Rhys.

In fact Ezra Pound complained that Ford "kept on discovering merit with monotonous regularity" although his lack of financial acumen meant the magazine only lasted a year.

Hermione and Julian visit the site of the Transatlantic Review offices where Ford's assistant (and work-horse) the Northumberland poet Basil Bunting "bunked down in a squalid little scullery." The cafes of Paris provided the venue for a weekly soiree, organised by Ford and his then companion Stella Bowen, which offered guests red wine, hot dogs and dancing.

And in the Luxembourg Gardens we hear a discussion of the tangled love life of Ford Madox Ford, his elopement with Elsie Martindale, a stint in Brixton prison and the women who followed Elsie: Violet Hunt "who took arsenic to keep herself looking younger" and the Australian painter Stella Bowen who described Ford as "the wise man I crossed the world to see".

Rebecca West described being embraced by Ford as like "being the toast under the poached egg." Others called him "a beached whale" or a "behemoth in grey tweed." He had a pink face, very blue eyes, very blond hair, and was rather chinless with a little moustache and a drawly voice.

Henry James is said to have used Ford for the model of the character Morton Densher in Wings of the Dove.

In his novel The Good Soldier he creates one of the best examples in literature of the unreliable narrator and his embroidered accounts of his own life provide a test for biographers.

Hermione and Julian swap examples of their favourite "whoppers" which include the church service he couldn't possibly have attended with DH Lawrence; the claim that he helped Marconi transmit the first wireless message across the Atlantic; that the chef Escoffier had said to him "I could learn cooking from you" and that he attended the second trial of Dreyfus.

Producer: Robyn Read.

Reader: Kerry Shale.

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01Julian Barnes And Hermione Lee On Ford Madox Ford2010082420110926

The advice Julian Barnes offers young writers is "study The Good Soldier as an example of perfect and completely original narration and at the same time study his life as an example of negative career management."

Julian Barnes and Hermione Lee tell the story of Ford Madox Ford - author of The Good Soldier and editor of a Paris based magazine which published James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and Jean Rhys.

In fact Ezra Pound complained that Ford "kept on discovering merit with monotonous regularity" although his lack of financial acumen meant the magazine only lasted a year.

Hermione and Julian visit the site of the Transatlantic Review offices where Ford's assistant (and work-horse) the Northumberland poet Basil Bunting "bunked down in a squalid little scullery." The cafes of Paris provided the venue for a weekly soiree, organised by Ford and his then companion Stella Bowen, which offered guests red wine, hot dogs and dancing.

And in the Luxembourg Gardens we hear a discussion of the tangled love life of Ford Madox Ford, his elopement with Elsie Martindale, a stint in Brixton prison and the women who followed Elsie: Violet Hunt "who took arsenic to keep herself looking younger" and the Australian painter Stella Bowen who described Ford as "the wise man I crossed the world to see".

Rebecca West described being embraced by Ford as like "being the toast under the poached egg." Others called him "a beached whale" or a "behemoth in grey tweed." He had a pink face, very blue eyes, very blond hair, and was rather chinless with a little moustache and a drawly voice.

Henry James is said to have used Ford for the model of the character Morton Densher in Wings of the Dove.

In his novel The Good Soldier he creates one of the best examples in literature of the unreliable narrator and his embroidered accounts of his own life provide a test for biographers.

Hermione and Julian swap examples of their favourite "whoppers" which include the church service he couldn't possibly have attended with DH Lawrence; the claim that he helped Marconi transmit the first wireless message across the Atlantic; that the chef Escoffier had said to him "I could learn cooking from you" and that he attended the second trial of Dreyfus.

Producer: Robyn Read.

Reader: Kerry Shale.The advice Julian Barnes offers young writers is "study The Good Soldier as an example of perfect and completely original narration and at the same time study his life as an example of negative career management."

Hermione and Julian visit the site of the Transatlantic Review offices where Ford's assistant (and work-horse) the Northumberland poet Basil Bunting "bunked down in a squalid little scullery." The cafés of Paris provided the venue for a weekly soirée, organised by Ford and his then companion Stella Bowen, which offered guests red wine, hot dogs and dancing.

Henry James is said to have used Ford for the model of the character Morton Densher in Wings of a Dove.

Reader: Kerry Shale.

Julian Barnes and Hermione Lee explore Ford Madox Ford - author of The Good Soldier.

02 LASTJulian Barnes And Hermione Lee On The Good Soldier2010083120110927

Ford Madox Ford said France "begins on the Left Bank of the Seine" and described Provence as "a frame of mind".

His last lover, the painter Biala, said "we grow our own vegetables, we have six (not very magnificent) rooms, and a garden with the finest view in the world".

Julian Barnes and Hermione Lee visit Aix-en-Provence to explore the life of Ford Madox Ford, author of The Good Soldier and - 4 years before his death in 1939 - of a book about Provence which includes descriptions of bull-fighting, a recipe for bouillabaisse, an argument about the Albigensian religious heresy and a history of troubadour poetry.

Hermione Lee explores the way these interests are woven into the plot of his best known book - The Good Soldier - "a tale of two couples with additional victims who come into their orbit -and it's about adultery, betrayal madness, suicide, desperate love" which she believes is a book about Albigensian beliefs.

Julian Barnes explains that "the great emotional smash of Ford's own life was in 1924 when he received a contribution from the Transatlantic Review from a young woman" who was then called Ella Lenglet.

He gave her work the title "Triple Sec" and gave her the pen-name Jean Rhys.

"She had three francs, a cardboard suitcase and a lot of talent, her husband was in jail and the bad move was to move her in with him and Stella Bowen." All four parties in this affair then wrote books which depicted their tangled relationships.

The programme ends by considering his end.

When he arrived in France in 1922, Ford was one of over five hundred mourners to attend the funeral of Proust.

In June 1939 Ford was taken ill, en route to his beloved South of France, and buried at a ceremony in the port town of Deauville attended by only 3 people.

Producer: Robyn Read

Reader: Kerry Shale.

Julian Barnes and Hermione Lee explore Ford Madox Ford's Provence and The Good Soldier.