A Man Could Stand Up - Book Three of Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford (Originally published 1926) 347 pages
I love this 1926 copy of A Man Could Stand Up I acquired from the library, which is literally falling apart in my hands. I like to imagine a Canadian soldier having held this same book, assessing it, and determining that yes (or no) "This is what the late war was like ..." as Ford muses in the preface of this book.
And so our saga of our benighted hero Christopher Tietjens in Book Three continues .... please see reviews of Book One here and here.
And, suspended in them, as there would have to be, three bundles of rags and what appeared to be a very large, squashed crow. How the devil had that fellow managed to get smashed into that shape? ... There was also-suspended, too, a tall melodramatic object, the head cast back to the sky. One arm raised in the attitude of, say, a Walter Scot Highland officer waving his men on. Waving a sword that wasn't there ... That was what wire did for you. Supported you in grotesque attitudes, even in death!
His action, when he had realized that they were really attending to him, had been exactly that of a rabbit dodging out of the wheat the reapers have just reached. At last he just lay down. He wasn't killed. They had seen him get up and walk off later. Still carrying his bait can! His antics had afforded those gunners infinite amusement.The war elicits hatred, as one would imagine, but perhaps towards a unforeseen object of dislike: towards civilians and its rulers: It was the civilian populations and their rulers that one hated with real hatred. Now the swine were starving the poor devils in the trenches!
Tietjens dreams of the day that he might be with Valentine - these are surprisingly modest aspirations:
You seduced a young woman in order to be able to finish your talks with her. You could not do that without living with her. You could not live with her without seducing her; but that was the by-product. The point is that you can't otherwise talk. You can't finish talks at street corners; in museums; even in drawing-rooms.He realizes that he can't live with Valentine at his ancestral estate Groby. His tenants and neighbours would sooner countenance a "doxy" (floozie) from the servants' hall than a "lady". They expect the bedding of a doxy from their masters but not a lady, daughter of his father's oldest friend, from whom they expect "quality" so he must search elsewhere for accommodations.
But united they are ... when General Campion swoops in and relieves Tietjens of his command sending him back home. Valentine meets him in his barren new home, even though she has not been invited, merely beckoned by Lady McMaster's disturbing telephone call. Valentine is joined, unexpectedly, by the "Pals" of the battalion who have agreed to meet here on Armistice Day: mad McKechnie, one eyed Aranjuez and his wife Nancy ...
Sylvia, pointedly, is not there, finally having given up hope of reconciliation. Will our hero be happy? On to Book Four The Last Post ...
|Tietjens at war ...|