The Good Soldier is a novel written in 1914 by Ford Madox Ford and published in March 1915. This novel is considered as the best book of pre-war period. It is also considered as a modernist work, and in fact, many modernist innovations, as well as impressionist ones, are present throughout the novel. Ford Madox Ford gave to his novel a very particular structure and texture, and consequently, it would be interesting to see to what extent the themes of the novel are present through the analysis of the structure, that is to say "the overall principle of organisation in a work" , and of the texture, which means "the surface qualities of the words in a passage, considered apart from their meaning." The narrator, Dowell, is a deceived husband who writes his story in order to understand why his life and the world in which he lives have become a real chaos. The first aspect of the novel to be studied is that this chaos is embodied by the chaotic structure Dowell gives to his narrative. The second aspect will be devoted to Dowell's quest for interpreting this chaos and for finding solutions against it through the themes of appearances, religion, and passion. The last aspect will deal with the process of writing, both for Dowell and Ford, how writing help them to meditate on human experiences and knowledge, to reproduce reality, and finally to question reality.
[...] This new vision of humanity explains why in The Good Soldier Ford dares using the expression saddest story” talking to Edward's story. In the religious context, saddest story” is the one of the Christ, and applying this expression to Edward, a sex maniac, is really blasphemous. The increasing relevance of scientific investigation in understanding the world at the beginning of the twentieth century was thus connected to the new realism in the arts, in literature as well as in painting. [...]
[...] Meixner, Good Soldier as Tragedy,” in Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915; New York and London: Norton, 1995) 318. (See appendix Martin Gray, A Dictionary of Literary Terms (Beirut : York Press, 1992) 62. Martin Gray, A Dictionary of Literary Terms (Beirut : York Press, 1992) 290. Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915; New York and London: Norton, 1995) 9. Samuel Hynes, Epistemology of The Good Soldier,” in Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915; New York and London: Norton, 1995) 312. [...]
[...] Moreover, as Samuel Hynes explains, despites all the deaths, the novel is not a melodrama: This point is clear enough if one considers the way in which Ford treats the violent events which would, in a true melodrama, be climatic─the deaths of Maisie Maidan, Florence, and Ashburnham. All these climaxes are, dramatically speaking, ‘thrown away', anticipated in casual remarks so as to deprive them of melodramatic force, and treated, when they do occur, almost as forethoughts. So, even the dramatic events are ridiculed, like Maisie's death, or anticipated, and thus become less tragic. [...]
[...] This is one of the modernists' devices: Novels had tended to put things in chronological order, to tell their stories in linear fashion, and to Ford and other modern writers this practice seems artificial. For even if events do happen in linear time, we tend not to experience them that way. At any moment, memories intervene, taking us back into the past even as we proceed into the future. So, according to the modern writers, narration has to function like a brain and that is what explains the blend of present and past in both novels. [...]
[...] “Dowell as Trustworthy Narrator,” in Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier New York and London: Norton 388- 391. Cheng, Vincent J. Chronology of The Good Soldier,” in Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier New York and London: Norton 384- 388. Conrad, Joseph “Preface to The Nigger of the “Narcissus”(1897),” in Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier New York and London: Norton 253-256. Ford, Ford Madox. The Good Soldier New York and London: Norton Pp.401. Gray, Martin. A Dictionary of Literary Terms. [...]
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