This 900-page survey of world literature, From Confucius’ Day to Our Own (as the subtitle reads), was the last book written by Ford Madox Ford, one of the seminal figures of the modernist period. Written for general readers rather than scholars and first published in 1938, The March of Literature is a working novelist’s view of what is valuable in literature, and why. Convinced that scholars and teachers give a false sense of literature, Ford brings alive the pleasures of reading by writing about books he is passionate about.
Beginning at the beginning—with ancient Egyptian and Chinese literature and the Bible—Ford works his way through classical literature, the writings of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, continuing up to the major writers of his own day like Ezra Pound, Henry James, and Joseph Conrad. With his encyclopedic reading and expertise in the techniques of writing, Ford is a reliable and entertaining guide. Ford also includes a chapter on publishers and booksellers, noting the key roles they play in literature’s existence.
Novelist Alexander Theroux (Darconville’s Cat, An Adultery) has written an insightful introduction for this reissue, the first time this monumental book has been made available in paperback.
Ezra Pound credited Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939) as the primary critical stimulus for modernism. His novels, most famously The Good Soldier and the Parade’s End tetralogy, helped introduce new narrative modes into English prose; as the editor of The English Review and, later, The Transatlantic Review, he published the great writers of his generation – Hardy, Conrad, Yeats, Henry James – and of the next – Joyce, Pound, Wyndham Lewis. He also fought in France during World War I, wrote three collaborative novels with Joseph Conrad, and taught at Olivet College in Michigan.