Download links are also delivered to you via e-mail: see Download Shop — How It Works for more details. Written on the eve of the First World War and satirising the complacency and immorality of the age, the book is an experimental narrative, moving to and fro in time with explanations inserted as if recounted to a friend. Poetically resonant and painterly in its word pictures, the book was regarded by Ford as his best. Far from being a detached observer as that first sentence implies, Dowell is at the very centre of the drama. Never was a laugh less careless, more calculated to deceive.
What really went on during their annual sojourns at a German spa only becomes clear as the story unfolds.
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Ford Madox Ford was a champion of such methods, not just in his own works but in that of other people. As an editor he promoted the work of the avant-garde in literature, the likes of Pound, Eliot, Joyce, Hemingway, Lawrence and Conrad; he also published Wells, Hardy and Galsworthy, who might more readily be seen as belonging to the 19th-century tradition. But Ford was comfortable with both the conventions and the iconoclasm of art.
His father had been the music critic for The Times , and had championed Wagner as the standard-bearer for the future of music; his maternal grandfather was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. As a result Ford, who had started writing fiction, had an astonishing memory and who was fluent in several languages, could not go to university.
He was, himself, never good with money, which, combined with his determination to make a living as a writer, meant that he had to elope to marry his intended, Elsie Martindale, as her family were against the match.
The Good Soldier - Wikipedia
The couple were deeply attached at first, but within 10 years the marriage had broken down. His stewardship of The English Review left it and him in financial trouble, and he ended up in court for bankruptcy. But he had become a hub for the new voices of the 20th century, and collaborated with Joseph Conrad, one of the great figures in the transition between the traditional and the Modernist models of the novel.
The machine age had already arrived, the industrialisation of the world was underway, and the almost feudal systems that had upheld the previous generations were incapable of coping with the social changes that were imminent and inevitable. This description is an ironic comment on the man to whom it is applied in the book, even though he appears to meet the description. Ford mockingly proposed a few alternatives including A Roaring Joke and The Good Soldier , and the publisher decided upon the latter although why a country at war would be more likely to purchase a book with that title is unclear.
Ford said that he regretted this thereafter, but in the same preface he claimed that the story of the novel was true and that he had had to wait until the real protagonists died before he could write it. This is almost certainly not the case, or at least not entirely the case; and if that part of the tale is not quite true, how true is the rest of it?
This is, of course, exactly the kind of narrative game with which Ford was playing throughout the book itself.
The Good Soldier
The book was published in Ford has never been held in the same public regard as those whose work he supported and championed. Downloading on a mobile device? Buy on CD at NaxosDirect.
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Perhaps that he loves him. And yet, even from the beginning, as I keep saying, there is doubt. Sometimes the perspective on Edward can make a full degree turn in the space of a single sentence:. They were as blue as the sides of a certain type of box of matches. When you looked at them carefully you saw that they were perfectly honest, perfectly straightforward, perfectly, perfectly stupid.
His bitterness? His actual true, honest opinion? His own doubt?
These words that seem so definite are worryingly uncertain in The Good Soldier. It is one of the first things we are taught to be.
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Or try to be. When we want to suggest someone like George W Bush has a simplistic worldview, we say that they have split the world into goodies and baddies, black and white. And yet, trying to define it as it applies to this novel is like trying to catch fairy dust in a net.