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This article is taken from PN Review 130, Volume 26 Number 2, November - December 1999.

from War Prose Ford Madox Ford

This excerpt from the War Prose of Ford Madox Ford* is the last of three instalments of the previously unpublished novel Ford began while still in the army. While the protagonist, Gabriel Morton, is recovering in hospital, his disturbed mind continues to go back over his experience at the Front. In the previous extract he successfully led the raid across No Man's Land to capture samples of the new German wire. Now he is accused by his Colonel of cowardice, on the unjust grounds that he saw some German soldiers but did not attack them. (To have done so would have jeopardized the raid and his men.) Enraged, Morton initiates a complaint to the Brigadier, but is bribed by the Colonel with a less dangerous job with the First Line Transport - a job that Ford was himself given, and which, like Morton, he resented. In his anger he walks through some low-lying poison gas, damaging his lungs. His poor health, and the strain of overwork and anxiety, causes him to break down.

Ford renders Morton's state of mind - his violent moodswings, borderline paranoia, and hallucinatory memories - with mesmerising clarity and - given that so many of Morton's experiences were based on his own - with brave honesty.

The manuscript is published with the kind permission of Janice Biala, and the Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University.

That had been his undoing.

And, ...

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