This blog’s name derives from the novelist (and poet, critic, editor, autobiographer, art critic) Ford Madox Ford, whose work occupies a good deal of my time. The subtitle of Ford’s No Enemy is ‘A Tale of Reconstruction’. Written for the most part in 1919, after Ford had left the British Army and was living in Sussex, it was finally published in 1929 in the United States: a British edition had to wait until 2002. The book is about the ‘reconstruction’ of a writer recovering from the stresses of the First World War: its writing helped reconstruct Ford himself. But in the year before its American publication, Ford published Last Post, the fourth and final volume of his postwar masterpiece Parade’s End. Last Post is also a ‘tale of reconstruction’, of the novel’s central character, Christopher Tietjens, but also of a version of England.
The word ‘tale’, apparently of Germanic origin, derives from the Old English talu, ‘telling, something told’. Like ‘story’, it can mean a fictitious rendering or an account of events or experiences. Those writers who use ‘tale’ to describe their work tend to be those whose material is slightly more exotic or fantastic: Dinesen, Kipling, Conrad. (This is the sort of generalisation that is both reckless and enjoyable to make.)
The entries here will conform, very roughly, in proportion to my conversations in an average day—about thirty per cent literature, thirty per cent politics, forty per cent the other stuff: food, wine, sex, television, film, paintings, work, friends, family, cats, gardens—with a bit less politics and a lot less personal stuff. Since a significant proportion of my political comments these days (at least in the privacy of my own home) consists of obscenity and pronounced astonishment at the general state of affairs in the contemporary world, a diminution of this seems advisable, politic even. As for the other stuff, since I don’t really share the widespread contemporary indifference to personal privacy, that will be subject to fairly rigorous selection.
So mainly literature; almost certainly; probably.