Ford Madox Ford and Modern Elegy
: Grieving effects and performances of Mournfulness in Parade's End

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End has long been read as an elegiac work, but the nature of its complex negotiations of loss and grief have not been adequately understood. This thesis investigates the tetralogy—in the context of his oeuvre and other First World War writing— in relation to the tropes of a range of grieving effects: mourning, melancholia and mournfulness, together with associated sentiments like worry, sadness and apprehensiveness.
Drawing on Sanja Bahun’s concept of “countermourning” and Jahan Ramazani’s of “anti-elegy”, I argue that as Parade’s End’s characters withdraw into themselves, without the public or private facilities to mourn adequately, their lack of a full recovery from such losses aligns the tetralogy more with the characteristics of modern elegy.
The first chapter explores death and suppressed mourning in the first volume, and how Ford transforms mourning into a continuing sense of mournfulness.
Chapter Two focuses on Ford’s wars: physical vs psychological. His anxious sensibilities and their reflection onto his characters in No More Parades are explored. The chapter demonstrates the ways in which Ford blurs the lines between public and private losses.
The third chapter discusses Ford’s tonally ambivalent handling of the Armistice and its socio-historical significance. It investigates liminal states between death and rebirth, hope and despair, and how these reflect his understanding of Anglo-Saxonness and sentimentality.
Chapter Four regards Englishness, worry, mournfulness and suffering through the post-war perspective of the concluding volume. Focusing on Eric Leed’s rendering of veterans as liminal figures who are stuck in between the strict codes of the military and their desires, this chapter refers to the rendering of the uncanny within the volume.
The Conclusion situates Parade’s End’s multiplicity of grieving effects and objects of mourning in both contemporary analyses of anxiety and war-trauma and subsequent theorisations of their representations. By combining various grieving effects with numerous objects of mourning, Ford presents an exclusive portrayal of the angst of individuals caused by modernity combined with the trauma of World War I.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorMax Saunders (Supervisor) & Santanu Das (Supervisor)

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