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The good soldier : a tale of passion (original 1915; edition 1979)

by Ford Madox Ford

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3,441811,565 (3.76)266
Member:Galorette
Title:The good soldier : a tale of passion
Authors:Ford Madox Ford
Info:New York : Vintage Books, 1989, c1979.
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:1927

Work details

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (1915)

  1. 31
    Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (chrisharpe)
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    Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley (John_Vaughan)
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    Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi (LynnB, susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Note the first lines of each -- Kureishi does such a cool job playing w/Ford
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English (76)  Dutch (2)  Hebrew (1)  Piratical (1)  All (80)
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Read it 42 years ago. Still great ( )
  chuckpatch | Dec 29, 2016 |
I'm so conflicted on what I really think of this book. It was a struggle to get through and at times I wanted to throw it against the wall, but in the end I powered through and felt satisfied with its conclusion. This to me balances out to "average"! ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
2nd attempt to take this on, and got to the end by force of will. Still not sure if I hate it or just bored by it. Broken time-line and few major "events" make it hard to get to grips with. More importantly, the characters are all well-lined upper-class types who do nothing. Money is readily available (millions) but referred to with sublime indifference. Much jealousy and rivalry and breaking of relationships, an occasional reference to 'emerging from the bedroom' but no sensuality, no sex, no passion - in fact very little physical or visual detail. Seems to be about feelings but much of that is about having no feelings. Much about what is 'correct' or 'normal', with a curled lip, raised eyebrow sort of way, and quite a few reference to the differences between Catholic and Protestant views of the relations between the sexes. So, who the heck cares? And how come this is seen as a classic? ( )
  vguy | Nov 28, 2016 |
This book is definitely not what I expected it to be. I can't even say I enjoyed reading it. There is not one likable character, but that's also the whole point. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
"The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has the wrong thing"
By sally tarbox on 1 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I found this really hard to get into: read the first 50 pages twice-over and just couldn't get on with it. Then took a deep breath, sat in a quiet room, and recommenced it, reading most in one go. And it really is quite a masterpiece!
Being a shortish (179 p) book, and being based around themes of marriage and adultery, you might be expecting a fairly easy read. It certainly isn't that, not least because the narrator (the wronged husband) doesn't start at the start and work through chronologically. Little snippets come out, but your assumptions about what is meant may be incorrect...

Who is good and who is bad? Again, the narrator's conclusions may surprise you. The characters are deeply layered, meriting a second read through. Challenging - but glad I pursued it! ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
The Good Soldier is an odd and maybe even unique book. That it is a masterpiece, almost a perfect novel, comes as a repeated surprise even to readers who have read it before. In a dedicatory letter to the second edition written some 10 years after the publication of the novel, Ford depicts himself "taking down one of [his] ten-year-old books [and exclaiming] 'Great Heavens, did I write as well as that then?' .
added by PGCM | editThe Guardian, Jane Smiley (Mar 18, 2010)
 
Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier seems to me to possess precisely those virtues to which the novel narrated in the first-person is best suited...A useful comparison: The Good Soldier very much brings to mind the novels of Kazuo Ishiguro.
 

» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ford Madox Fordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Henze, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kenner, HughIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lorch, FritzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Beati Immaculati - Psalm 119:1
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This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
Quotations
I have, I am aware, told this story in a very rambling way so that it may be difficult for anyone to find his path through what may be a sort of maze. I cannot help it. I have stuck to my idea of being in a country cottage with a silent listener, hearing between the gusts of the wind and amidst the noises of the distant sea the story as it comes. And, when one discusses an affair--a long, sad affair--one goes back, one goes forward. One remembers points that one has forgotten and one explains them all the more minutely since one recognizes that one has forgotten to mention them in their proper places and that one may have given, by omitting them, a false impression. I console myself with thinking that this is a real story and that, after all, real stories are probably told best in the way a person telling a story would tell them. They will then seem most real.
In all matrimonial associations there is, I believe, one constant factor - a desire to deceive the person with whom one lives as to some weak spot in one's character or in one's career. For it is intolerable to live constantly with one human being who perceives one's small meannesses.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679722181, Paperback)

First published in 1915, Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier begins, famously and ominously, "This is the saddest story I have ever heard." The book then proceeds to confute this pronouncement at every turn, exposing a world less sad than pathetic, and more shot through with hypocrisy and deceit than its incredulous narrator, John Dowell, cares to imagine. Somewhat forgotten as a classic, The Good Soldier has been called everything from the consummate novelist's novel to one of the greatest English works of the century. And although its narrative hook--the philandering of an otherwise noble man--no longer shocks, its unerring cadences and doleful inevitabilities proclaim an enduring appeal.

Ford's novel revolves around two couples: Edward Ashburnham--the title's soldier--and his capable if off-putting wife, Leonora; and long-transplanted Americans John and Florence Dowell. The foursome's ostensible amiability, on display as they pass parts of a dozen pre-World War I summers together in Germany, conceals the fissures in each marriage. John is miserably mismatched with the garrulous, cuckolding Florence; and Edward, dashing and sentimental, can't refrain from falling in love with women whose charms exceed Leonora's. Predictably, Edward and Florence conduct their affair, an indiscretion only John seems not to notice. After the deaths of the two lovers, and after Leonora explains much of the truth to John, he recounts the events of their four lives with an extended inflection of outrage. From his retrospective perch, his recollections simmer with a bitter skepticism even as he expresses amazement at how much he overlooked.

Dowell's resigned narration is flawlessly conversational--haphazard, sprawling, lusting for sympathy. He exudes self-preservation even as he alternately condemns and lionizes Edward: "If I had had the courage and the virility and possibly also the physique of Edward Ashburnham I should, I fancy, have done much what he did." Stunningly, Edward's adultery comes to seem not merely excusable, but almost sublime. "Perhaps he could not bear to see a woman and not give her the comfort of his physical attractions," John surmises. Ford's novel deserves its reputation if for no other reason than the elegance with which it divulges hidden lives. --Ben Guterson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:00 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

    Handsome, wealthy, and a veteran of service in India, Captain Edward Ashburnham appears to be the ideal “good soldier and the embodiment of English upper-class virtues. But for his creator, Ford Madox Ford, he also represents the corruption at society's core. Beneath Ashburnham's charming, polished exterior lurks a soul well-versed in the arts of deception, hypocrisy, and betrayal. Throughout the nine years of his friendship with an equally privileged American, John Dowell, Ashburnham has been having an affair with Dowell's wife, Florence. Unlike Dowell, Ashburnham's own wife, Leonora, is well aware of it. When The Good Soldier was first published in 1915, its pitiless portrait of an amoral society dedicated to its own pleasure and convinced of its own superiority outraged many readers. Stylistically daring, The Good Soldier is narrated, unreliably, by the nave Dowell, through whom Ford provides a level of bitter irony. Dowell's disjointed, stumbling storytelling not only subverts linear temporality to satisfying effect, it also reflects his struggle to accept a world without honor, order, or permanence. Called the best French novel in the English language, The Good Soldier is both tragic and darkly comic, and it established Ford as an important contributor to the development of literary modernism.

    Frank Kermode has taught at Manchester, London, and Cambridge Universities as well as at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. Among his many books the most recent are Shakespeare's Language, Pieces of My Mind, and The Age of Shakespeare.… (more)

    (summary from another edition)

    » see all 12 descriptions

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