Thursday, 14 November 2013

WRITERS ON WRITING #40: Ford Madox Ford

Yet the novelist must pass unobserved in a crowd if he himself is to observe.  And the crowd is his clay, of his observations of it he will build his monuments to humanity…But the first thing the novelist has to learn is self-effacement –– that first and that always.  Not for him flowing locks, sombreros, flaming ties, eccentric pants.  If he gets himself up like a poet humanity will act towards him as if he were a poet…disagreeably.  That would not matter were it not that he will see humanity under a false aspect.  Then his books will be wrong.
  His effort should be to be at one with his material.  Without that he will not understand the emotions and reactions of his human renderings.  Superstitions, belief in luck, premonitions, play such a great part in human motives that a novelist who does not to some extent enter into those feelings can hardly understand and will certainly be unable to render to perfection most human affairs.  Yes, you must sacrifice yourself.  You must deny yourself the pleasure of saying to your weaker brothers and sisters:  ‘Haw!  No superstitions about me.’  Indeed you must deny yourself the pleasure of high-hatting anybody about anything.  You must live merrily and trust to good letters.  Besides, superstitions will come creeping in.

Return to Yesterday (1931)

Click HERE to read more about FORD MADOX FORD's fascinating 1931 memoir Return to Yesterday

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WRITERS ON WRITING #30: Ford Madox Ford
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POET OF THE MONTH #4: Ford Madox Ford

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