Friday, January 29, 2016

Ford Madox Ford

In the case of Mr. E. E. Cummings I had decided after reading ten lines of his that I would open the Trans-atlantic Review with the poems he sent me. There then was the transatlantic review—without capitals. I had no motive in printing the title without capitals. I had seen the name of a shop somewhere on the Boulevard without capital letters and had rather liked the effect. Then, by a mere coincidence, Mr. Cummings' poems had no capitals. The conjunction made a great sensation. It was of course taken to be a display of Communism. We were suspected of beheading initial letters as if they had been kings. The American Women's Club in Paris solemnly burned the second number of the Review in their hall fire, thus giving a lead to Mr. Hitler. Their accusation was that we were not only Communists but indecent—that, on account of a really quite innocent story in French by my extraordinarily staid friend M. Georges Pillement. But one of the scenes took place in a . . . bathroom. It seemed to me that it would be better if some American ladies did not read French. It might cause international complications if they set up a censorship in Paris. After I had written that the Club cut off its subscription. Bringing out the first number was rather hectic. The misprints made by the Russian printers were natural, but their corrections made the pages look like a Soviet battlefield and their procrastination was without parallel. The White Russian Colonel almost went out of his mind because he read communism into every incomprehensible English sentence. Finally everything was ready except for the proof of my editorial which conveyed a slight aperfu of the Arts in Paris at that mo-ment. It had cost me a good deal of work. There seemed to be no way of getting this proof from the printers. The White Russian Colonel now resigned. He said with a great deal of dignity that he would probably starve. But it was inconsistent with his honour to go on taking money from an organ that was now definitely proved to be an agency of the U. R. S. S. I didn't argue with or even question him. The Soviet Republic loomed enormously large in the Paris of those days for Paris is an excitable city and the finger of Lenin was traced to the most unlikely things. Even the mark of a newly invented rubber boot-heel! It was taken to print a trail by means of which Soviet agents could follow each other's movements. . . . I had nevertheless, within a week, offers of every kind of service from every kind of White Russian noble or army officer or their wives. I refused them. I was in rather a hole. The only person at the printer's who spoke comprehensible French or seemed reason-ably sane was the manager. He had taken the opportunity to go sick. The rest of the staff who appeared to be mad flew into frenzies whenever I entered their office. My Russian is very limited and Miss Reid was afraid to go near that madhouse.

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