Questions asked by Translators, with responses

This document will incorporate all the questions I have been asked about Some Do Not . . . by the translators. Questions in normal type, unattributed. My answers in bold type. Format to be discussed at Strasbourg. . .


Mr Tietjens had suggested that, and after an interval had asked:

[“You will permit her to divorce you?”]

I find the “that” very strange. If it’s the demonstrative pronoun, it should refer to the previous utterance, but it doesn’t seem to do so. If it’s the subordinating conjunction, it should introduce a following subordinate clause, but it doesn’t seem to be doing so either. How do you interpret the sentence?

Well: if it’s correct, it could mean that the way Mr T asked his question had already implied that C would be a blackguard if he did divorce S. But the US first has ‘digested’ instead of ‘suggested’!


Old General ffolliott:

Why a small first letter? Could it imply that he is foolish?

No. My ‘Dictionary of English Surnames’ (Don’t ask: but I knew it would come in useful one day) says its medieval use of ‘ff’ for ‘F’. We have a Patrick ffrench at King’s, so it’s all true.

Is he synonymous with General Lord Edward Campion?



Why is the boy referred to as Tommie when his name is Michael/Mark?

This is generally thought to be a mistake that crept in during the years of composition. Though it’s still common for the upper-class Brits to get called names in the family that aren’t their given names, so it might be that.


[his book he trusted to let him adopt] an almost judicial attitude.

Would this attitude be that of a judge?

Yes – having the authority of a judge


“the promotion of the distinguished are…”

are is a mistake for is , is it not?

Certainly the grammar’s wrong here. The US first edn. has ‘is’; I suspect it should be ‘promotions’. . . . ‘are’, picking up the earlier plural, but I’d need to see the manuscript. I’m afraid this is one of the examples of what the English edition will have to sort out.


As between the heroes … choosing.

I don’t understand the meaning of the “As”. Could you explain it?

It’s just an idiom that doesn’t really add much – perhaps something like ‘As far as . . . was concerned’


“a lady who should contribute to…”

Is the ‘should’ a ‘should’= ‘ought to’ or does it correspond to a modern ‘would’?

I’d go for the ‘would’ here. I think it’s playing on the ‘will’ in the lines before.


And M., who would have sentimentalised the plump girl to the tune of Highland Mary, …

Does this mean that he idealised the girl


and imagined her to be like the girl of that song?

Could be that; or that he would have been likely to hum the tune to himself while thinking of her (which sort of amounts to the same thing!)


Would the question be a question in the House of Commons?

It certainly could be, though it’s not certain. Presumably it could be an answer to a letter, a question from the press to be answered in a letter to the papers etc.


“it’s a back door way out of it. She’s cheated me.”

Why is me stressed?

Pride, I think: ME of all people, who am supposed to be shrewd

What does the first ‘it’refer to? The wedding?


Is it the fact that the wedding is to take place in Paris that is said to be a back door way out of it? Out of what? I found that ‘a back door way’ is ‘unworthily secret, clandestine’. Could it also mean ‘paltry/cowardly/dishonest?

I think he means S’s trick to use T’s honour to get him to marry her even though the child may not be his.


She gives me the benefit of the agreeable doubt.

I know the idiom “give somebody the benefit of the doubt”, but find it difficult to know how to render the broken idiom. What I have in mind is something like ‘she chooses to let me believe it’s mine’. How do you read it?

Complex irony here: the doubt is maddening to T, but the only thing for him to hold onto is the hope the child is his, which is the only ‘agreeable’ possibility. I think the point is that Sylvia is using the idea to torment T, but won’t go as far as saying the child isn’t his (and anyway she may not be sure). So she’s put him into a very disagreeable doubt!

16.26 + 20.27

Do they quote a poem by D.G. Rossetti? If so, which one?



gilt sunfish

Why would there be ‘gilt sunfish’ there? Were those a popular feature of interior decoration at the time?

Apparently something F associated with Rossetti’s house: See ‘True Love and a G.C.M.’ (War Prose, pp. 94-5):

His father and mother had very willingly hired a fourwheel cab for the afternoon, next day, to send the young Gabriel round to Chelsea. They impressed on the boy that he was going to see a very great poet painter, after whom, as a matter of fact he had been called; for in the early married days of Mr and Mrs Morton the young couple had entertained an almost swooning admiration for that then little known artist. But the idea of a man as being memorable because he was a poet or a painter was so unfamiliar to the little Gabriel that he thought little of it. He went in a cab, slowly, to Chelsea. He was introduced into an immense, gloomy, coloured and dusty room, where gilded sunfishes hung from the ceiling, and immense pictures of ladies stood on easels, so that whole spaces of the room were hidden, and the big dark man stood there wearing what Gabriel took to be an overcoat.


“your John Stuart Mill’s and your George Eliot’s”

Shouldn’t it be “Mills” and “Eliots”?

Yes (I think that may just have been a possible typographical style for the same thing then)


“Leave the furniture out!”

Does ‘the furniture’ refer to the picture (misunderstood by MacMaster?)or something else? If so, what?

This is a very cryptic moment, I think. You might be right about the ‘picture’, but it doesn’t quite cohere. I think it’s supposed to convey the lightning movement of T’s mind. He might be saying that the PRB furniture is fine, but their morality not. I think Ford had an affection for William Morris’ ‘Firm’, and certainly had some Pre-Raph. Relics of his own.


“some Mrs W. Three Stars”

Does this refer to some well-known rich personage?/Does it have a military connotation?/Does it refer to some mediocre person?/ or…???

The stars are asterisks concealing the person’s identity, as in ‘Mrs W***’ – it’s a slightly comical, or at least ironic way of putting it.

CHECK if possible to identify


“But augurs…. each other.”

I understand the words, but not what they mean in the context. Could you explain? It’s an iambic pentameter, and sounds Shakespearean.


that old don Ingleby.

Is ‘don’ significant here or does it carry little meaning? Does it mean that I. had been a teacher at Oxbridge or that he reminded people of one? Perhaps a caricature of one?

Could be any of these, I think. (Don’t think he’s likely to have still been an academic while working for the Civil Service.)

18.8 “in placket-holes”

Does it mean ‘under skirts’ or the older “in vaginas”?
The latter by way of the former

18.9 “polysyllabic Justification by Love”

I don’t understand the use of the preposition ‘by’ here.
As in ‘by means of’


“You’re out of my depth,”

Another broken idiom. Could it be understood as ‘I can’t make you out’?

Yes, or perhaps ‘I can’t follow you’ (or else I’d be out of my depth)

19.6, 19.12, 21.1,2

“splashing white enamel paint about”, etc.

I understand that CT is being sarcastic here, but would still like to know whether this refers to the lower classes’ wish for better housing and more attractively decorated indoors or what? How was white enamel paint used? Was it all the rage then, or …? Please explain!

I think this might be H G Wells, but I’ll have to CHECK

19.21 “She walks…”

Is this a travesty of some (Byron?) poem I should know, or …? Help!

It’s a poem by Alice Meynell, ‘The Shepherdess’ – not at all well-known now, though I think F knew her personally


“Or they like him…”

Why the present tense ‘like’??
First English edn has ‘liked’


“The gods…”

When I first read these lines, I thought M. quoted them to underline the difference between CT and himself, saying that some get to Heaven via the main entrance, some maybe not at all or through a side door or by the backstairs. I also thought they were by D.G. Rossetti or came from some well-known work, but I see from A Dual Life, part II, that they come from Ford’s poem Mister Bosphorus and that you take it that they are there to, at an early stage, establish CT as a heroic figure (after he has successfully got his kit bag, and himself, on to the train). Could you comment some more on this?

I think in Macmaster’s use of the lines, the portals are social – the entrance to high society. The porter recognizes T as a gentleman, so he’s allowed to do this kind of thing. Ford keeps playing with the idea in the poem, and it gets considerably eroticised too.


“Black Hamburg grapes”

Is it really to be “Hamburg”? Is it not more likely “Homburg”? It is on the southern slope of the Taunus and they grow grapes there, which they hardly do, or did, in the Hamburg area.

That’s very impressive! Both first editions say ‘Hamburg’, so I guess that’s what F wrote, but it doesn’t of course mean you’re wrong. Footnote?