Hemingway opens the chapter by claiming that “many people loved Ford,” mostly women but also “a few men.” He argues that while everyone lies, Ford lied in a way that was cruel and damaging, and that, while Hemingway tried not to judge Ford in the end, writing about Ford is in itself “crueler than any judging.” Ezra tells Hemingway that he has to be kind to Ford and ignore the fact that he lies, which he only does when he is “tired.” Ezra then tells Hemingway about Ford’s difficulties with his first wife. Ford founded The Transatlantic Review and edited The English Review, and eventually married another woman, a “very pleasant” Australian named Stella Bowen. Hemingway finds Ford’s physical presence repulsive, but is able to get over this by standing “windward of him.” Ford’s bad smell, which has a “sweetly acrid quality,” gets worse when he is lying. Hemingway always meets Ford outside and leaves indoor places when Ford enters them.
Once again, Hemingway contrasts Ezra’s enormous capacity for generosity with his own attitudes, which tend to be more judgmental (even as he tries to resist the inclination to judge). Hemingway’s judgment of Ford Madox Ford is simultaneously serious and comic, and the question of whether his evaluation is fair remains unclear. On the one hand, Hemingway denounces Ford for lying in a cruel way, but then admits that the way he writes about Ford is itself very cruel. The detail about Ford’s stench is, again, both humorous and somewhat sinister. It humanizes Ford (if rather unkindly) by emphasizing that Ford was a physical being, rather than just a famous writer.