What is the saddest story in life

Summary of The saddest story

The literary modernity

The beginning of literary modernism is often set in the late 19th century. German naturalism and the French L’art pour l’art or Fin de Siècle are considered to be forerunners. Of course, it found its most radical expression in the numerous, mostly international, isms of the 1920s and 30s. The prelude to classical modernism was the founding manifesto of Futurism in 1909 Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. Another early form of the avant-garde, vorticism, formed in England in 1914 Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis and other.

What these movements had in common was a fundamental questioning of the meaning of art. This led to the deliberately irritating, often scandalous transgression of traditional art forms for which the avant-garde movements became legendary. Above all, they had set themselves the goal of overcoming the separation between aesthetic and sophisticated art and concrete everyday life. To this end, modernism relied on the literary form of the manifesto, the proclamation and early forms of action art such as happenings or intervention. This situation in the arts, often referred to as a fundamental crisis, was accompanied by frightening changes in society, such as rapid industrialization, the loss of trust in traditional forms of religion and the near end of the geopolitical peace phase of the Pax Britannica in World War I.


Ford Madox Ford always assumed that he would not create a novel of lasting importance until he was 40 years old. On December 17, 1913, his 40th birthday, he sat at his desk to provide the long-talked-about test of his literary talent. Ford initially named the result The Saddest Story. A preprint of the first chapters of the novel appeared on June 20, 1914 in the first issue of the now legendary magazine Blast, the short-lived figurehead of the British avant-garde movement of Vorticism. This publication still had the original title of the novel, but an unfamiliar author name: Ford Madox Hueffer.

The beginning of the First World War eventually changed the title and author's name. In view of the war with Germany, the writer finally abandoned the family name of his German-born father, Hueffer, in 1919 and from then on only continued to use his mother's family name, Madox. In addition, his publisher suggested that, given the brutality of the trench warfare, a title such as The saddest story Would be poison for selling the novel. So Ford changed the title of his novel for book publication to The Good Soldier (The good soldier) ab - a title that obviously corresponded better to the zeitgeist, but led the reader on the wrong track. Ford would regret for the rest of his life that he had changed and falsified the title of his novel in such a way. In March 1915 the book was published with a new title and name. Only in the ambiguous subtitle A tale of passionwhat both A story about Passion as well as A story of suffering can mean, Ford's original title was retained in hints.

Impact history

For fear of endangering the afterlife of his masterpiece by changing the title again, Ford Madox Ford kept the title The Good Soldier at. Ford knew from the start that it was his masterpiece. Compared to this novel, all of his previous works seemed to him haphazard, stereotypical, and hasty. This self-assessment solidified with increasing age. Wrote Ford in 1927, The saddest story was the best of his pre-war books, he lifted this time limit in 1931, and shortly before his death even announced that this book was the only one of his works that counted. Critics shared this view, although the portrayal of adultery among Ford's contemporaries caused some moral outrage. While Ford's fellow writers recognized the importance of the novel and also representatives of subsequent generations such as Graham Greene or Ian McEwan acknowledged his influence, the hoped-for financial success failed to materialize. That shouldn't be for Ford until the release of The end of the parades to adjust.

The saddest story was directed by 1981 Kevin Billington adapted for television and in 2008 as part of the BBC-4 program Book at Bedtime of Ross Kemp brought into a radio play version. Today the novel is considered an important literary legacy of British modernism and an important contribution to the English language novel. The Modern Library publishing house led The saddest story In 1998 in his list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century in 30th place. The BBC listed the book as 13th of the 100 greatest English novels in 2015.