Ford Madox Ford's Anglo-German Ambivalence: Authoring Propaganda and Negotiating Nationalism as a Literary Cosmopolitan

Borkett-Jones, Lucinda Carys (2019). Ford Madox Ford's Anglo-German Ambivalence: Authoring Propaganda and Negotiating Nationalism as a Literary Cosmopolitan. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis aims to analyse and reintegrate Ford Madox Ford’s Anglo-German identity into the biographical and critical narrative of his work. I concentrate on Ford’s writing during the First World War, the period when, critics suggest, his views on Germany changed because of his involvement with the British propaganda campaign and his subsequent decision to enlist in the British Army. Throughout the first year of the war, Ford wrote for the Outlook, a weekly review of politics and the arts. This is the first detailed study of these articles and, as such, it contributes to our understanding of Ford’s experience of the war before enlisting, as well as his wider journalism. Analysing Ford’s Outlook articles alongside his propaganda books provides an important corrective to a singular focus on the propaganda as Ford’s literary response to life on the home front. Combining archival research and literary analysis of his unpublished manuscripts, correspondence, and some lesser-known works, I argue that Ford neither loved Germany before the war as much as has sometimes been portrayed, nor hated it afterwards as much as is often assumed. Ford’s mixed cultural heritage constitutes an important part of his personal and literary identity and contributes to his ambivalent aesthetic. Through comparison with his contemporaries, and exploration of the complexities of broader Anglo-German relations, I suggest that Ford gave expression to feelings that were more widespread among propagandists than is usually acknowledged. I see Ford’s ambivalence as an asset rather than a mark of indecision, a distinctive feature resulting from his dual cultural heritage, which fuelled his revived cosmopolitanism in the post-war period, and which had both a social and artistic function.

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