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Parade's End

Tietjens Tetralogy, Some Do Not, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up, Last Post

a tetralogy of novels by Ford Madox Ford, also known as the Tietjens Tetralogy after its central character, and originally published as Some Do Not … (1924), No More Parades (1925), A Man Could Stand Up (1926), and Last Post (1928). The work is set at the time of the Great War and attempts to show the interaction between public and private events, so that Ford's hero, Christopher Tietjens, a Yorkshire landowner with an unhappy past, ‘must go through the public affairs of distracted Europe with that private cannonball all the time dragging at his ankle’. Tietjen's ‘private cannonball’ is his disastrous marriage to his beautiful but unstable wife Sylvia, whose vindictiveness towards him increases the more honorably and unselfishly he treats her. In the first volume, he takes her back after she has been unfaithful to him; he himself, although he is in love with another woman, does not betray her. Shortly after the outbreak of war he enlists, although his wife's campaign to discredit him in the eyes of his commanding officers pursues him to France; later, suffering from shell-shock, he returns to England. Tietjens's wartime experiences up to Armistice Day are described in the middle two volumes of the tetralogy, in which he also resolves, after suffering repeated injustices at his wife's hands, to leave her and establish a life with the woman he loves, Valentine Wannop (a scenario perhaps based on Ford's own unhappy marriage and his relationship with Violet Hunt). In the final novel, Tietjens and Valentine are living together; Valentine is pregnant and Sylvia, after a final attempt to ruin her husband's happiness, agrees to relinquish her claims over him. Despite the ambitious scope of the work and its many characters, which include portraits of luminaries from the artistic, political, and intellectual circles in which Ford moved, he compared it with his finest work The Good Soldier, declaring ‘I think the Tietjens books will probably “date” a good deal, where the other may—indeed need—not.’

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Cynthia Ozick Biography to Ellis Peters Biography