FORD, Ford Madox (1873-1939). The Good Soldier. A Tale of Passion. New York and London: John Lane, 1915.
8o. Original red blind-stamped cloth (spine a bit faded, a bit shaken). Provenance: Fanny Wadsworth (pencil signature on front free endpaper); Graham Greene (1904-1991), English novelist (presentation inscription; signature on front free endpaper).
"THERE IS NO NOVELIST OF THIS CENTURY MORE LIKELY TO LIVE THAN FORD MADOX FORD-- Graham Greene
FIRST EDITION. AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY FORD TO GRAHAM GREENE on the half-title: "For the writer of It's a Battlefield from the writer of this, with admiration & good wishes. Ford Madox Ford 21 July MCMXVXVI [sic]," and with Greene's ownership signature. "There is a reserve tank of energy and intelligence about this most subtle study of the eternal quadrilateral (two couples meeting in a German spa) which sets it apart from the overwritten romanticism of his Tietjens war trilogy" (Cyril Connolly, The Modern Movement).
Alan Judd, Ford's biographer, relates the story of this particular copy of Ford's masterpiece. Green wrote to Ford in 1934 complimenting his work. Ford was moved by Greene's admiration, but he had never read any of Greene's books. He wrote back that this made "correspondence rather like dueling in the mist with an opponent armed with one doesn't know what weapon!" and asked for a Greene title. Greene sent It's a Battlefield, which Ford liked quite a lot. He responded that it created "a shaft of light through the gloom that seems to hang over our distant land! I wd. not have believed that such writing cd. come out of England." (See Alan Judd, Ford Madox Ford, Cambridge, 1990, p.421).
While vacationing in Penhurst, Ford invited Greene to lunch. They took a long walk through the fields together. Ford signed Greene's copy of The Good Soldier and the two never saw one another again. The meeting had been important to Greene, who wrote in Ford's 1939 obituary in the Spectator : "When Ford died he had passed through a period of neglect but was re-emerging... I don't suppose failure disturbed him much: he had never really believed in human happiness." (See Judd, pp.448-9.)
Greene was a life-long and passionate collector of books. His library was catalogued after his death in 1991, and the importance of this book was dramatically underscored: it appears to be the only instance in which Greene solicited an inscription from a fellow author. Only one other inscribed copy of The Good Soldier is recorded in ABPC: a copy inscribed to Lucy Masterman, the wife of Ford's close friend Charles Masterman (sold Sotheby's London, 15 December 1982, lot 180). Connolly, The Modern Movement 27.