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Tense FutureModernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form$
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Paul K. Saint-Amour

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190200947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190200947.001.0001

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War Shadowing

War Shadowing

Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End

(p.263) 6 War Shadowing
Tense Future

Paul K. Saint-Amour

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 opens with a brief discussion of Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, whose setting in an infinitely protracted 1913 denies the inevitability of the First World War. Musil’s narrative and modal “sideshadowing”—lighting up of possible but untaken roads—then act as a foil to Ford’s twitchier experiments in formal and technical sideshadowing. Where other critics see his Parade’s End tetralogy as a failed attempt at modernism in the declarative mood, this chapter maintains that the work achieves a powerfully anti-totalizing modernism in the subjunctive mood. The work’s formal heterogeneity—its amalgam of nineteenth-century marriage plot, realist social history, and transient modernisms—finds a diegetic counterpart in the Encyclopedia Britannica, which Parade’s End transvalues from failed monument to resource. The encyclopedia’s mistakes and inconsistencies, this chapter argues, make it especially fit to portray the world comprehensively yet without an epic coherentism the war had made seem less credible than ever.

Keywords:   Ford, Parade’s End, First World War, Robert Musil, Encyclopedia Britannica

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