What does it mean today to reread an author like Ford Madox Ford? Is Ford a dated author, or can he still interest young generations who set out to study the humanities in an era that has profoundly questioned the value of the ‘traditional book’? “Ford Madox Ford and ‘The Republic of Letters'”, aim at answering these questions, analysing not only “The Good Soldier” and “The Parade’s End”, Ford’s great classics of Modernism, but also Ford’s ‘other’ works (from earlier novels to his editorials, from his critical essays to his war-propaganda books, to his last history of Comparative Literature). The title of this book, “The Republic of Letters”, highlights the comsopolitan aspect of Ford, who always stressed the importance of the relationship between European literatures. Its various sections emphasise the broad range of Ford’s interest, not only in the arts themselves – painting, music, cinema, photography – but also European and trans-European literatures. For Ford , “great art” overcomes national barriers and is always a strong civilising element working against the goals of wartime expansionism because, while respecting specific local characteristics, it strengthens the bonds between different peoples and races. The richness and variety of issues here debated, demonstrate how rich and polysemic Ford’s work is: his huge, enormous ‘literary corpus’, long neglected by critics, is read in the light of the most recent critical movements, from Cultural Studies to New Historicism, to Media Studies. During the 20th century, Ford represented for many writers an important model for how to write a story, In this perspective the spatial and temporal boundaries of Ford’s ‘Republic of Letters’ have already been extended and widened. It is now time to wager whether Ford become a ‘true classic’, in the broadest sense of the world and according to its post-modern meaning, or rather, if it will finally become possible to imagine the ‘appropriation’ of Ford’s work by the ‘general public’.
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