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Structure and texture in the "Good Soldier" by Ford Madox Ford

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The structure of The Good Soldier.
    1. Complex compared to the ones of other modernist novels.
    2. Organization according to Dowell's awakening.
  3. The chaotic world in which Dowell lives.
  4. The structure of The Good Soldier.
  5. Manners and appearances do not prevent the world from chaos.
  6. Religion, convention, and normality.
  7. The disjointed plot of The Good Soldier.
  8. Conclusion.

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. [...]


[...] After this scene, Dowell will be more interested in religion than in the beginning of the novel: is during the last third of Part One and all of Part Two that we encounter a cluster of expressions such as knows?, and the grace of God?. This section contains the Protest scene, the vision of Judgment Day, and references to ?Providence?.?[29] Dowell is looking so much for solutions against chaos that he will become a little obsessed with religion. On the one hand, religion?more especially Roman Catholicism in this novel? represents innocence and purity. [...]

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