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This article is taken from PN Review 128, Volume 25 Number 6, July - August 1999.

True Love and a G.C.M. (part 1) Ford Madox Ford

This is the second excerpt from War Prose of Ford Madox Ford, edited by Max Saunders.1 It is from a novel Ford began during the First World War, when he had returned from active service in France, and was attached to the Staff in Yorkshire. He was given the task of defending a man at a General Court Martial - the 'G. C. M.' of the title. But in the process, wrote Ford, the man 'rushed into my tent, having escaped from his escort: tried to strangle his father, bit me', and was 'carried off to an asylum'. Ford worked at the novel until March 1919, but didn't complete it. The 105-page manuscript, published with the kind permission of Janice Biala, and the Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, stops only two pages into Part II. The 'True Love' and the court martial are barely mentioned. But what we do have is an extraordinary document, which combines two powerful elements, both of which are clearly based on Ford's own experience: an account of a war veteran struggling with the mental after-effects of battle trauma; and his reminiscences of his youthful awakenings to art and sexuality. Some of the material was later reworked into Ford's post-war masterpiece, Parade's End, or his books of reminiscence. He was to say later that he thought he hadn't recovered from the 'nerve tangle of the war' until 1923, when he began Parade's End. True Love and a G.C.M. was written when he was ...

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