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The Good Soldier (1915)

de Ford Madox Ford

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MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
4,359932,162 (3.78)325
Ford Madox Ford's 1915 novel The Good Soldier has established itself as a masterpiece of literary modernism, taking its place alongside Ulysses and The Waste Land as a groundbreaking experimental work.
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    Brideshead Revisited de Evelyn Waugh (chrisharpe)
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    Intimacy de Hanif Kureishi (LynnB, susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Note the first lines of each -- Kureishi does such a cool job playing w/Ford
  3. 00
    El lloro de Flaubert de Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels have self-deluded narrators using strategies of deferral and digression.
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    Crome Yellow de Aldous Huxley (John_Vaughan)
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Anglès (89)  Neerlandès (1)  Pirata (1)  Hebreu (1)  Castellà (1)  Totes les llengües (93)
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I read this when I was a teenager and I don’t remember it well, just that it was about a group of friends who are having marital problems. I remember that the real story was revealed somewhat slowly, and that I liked it. I looked it up just now on Wikipedia to make sure I was even thinking of the right book, and I learned that Ford originally wanted to call it “The Saddest Story.” His publishers asked for a new title (very properly, in my view—I don’t want to read a book called “The Saddest Story”) and as a joke he came up with “The Good Soldier” in view of the war. I can only ever think of a joke title for my books too, so I really identify with this. I hope you weren't expecting a proper review here! ( )
  jollyavis | Dec 14, 2021 |
This is a fascinating little book. The title is a setup. It could easily have had a subtitle, "everything is not as it seems", but that would have given away too much too soon. On the trite side this could have been called, "don't judge a book by its cover", or even "idle hands do the devil's work". But this book is much more elegantly written. It takes place just before World War I when Americans went to Paris and British landed gentry went to Germany for the cures at those spas. This is the story of two couples, one American the other British , so another trite title could have been "the grass is always greener". The American husband is the narrator. Both couples have someone with a heart condition, the American wife and the British husband. But beyond that anyone seeing them would see these are very proper wealthy upper crust couples - the backbone of society.

Three aspects of the author's style make this a bit confusing. Often a sentence is self contradicting. We know him thoroughly, how can we know anyone? She clearly loved him, but what is love? Okay, which part do we believe? In some sense this is the basic theme, people are complex and we often only know what they are on the surface. The British husband is the good soldier. He's also the generous landlord, the understanding supervisor, the outgoing hero. But he's also an alcoholic, an adulterer, and never speaks to his wife. The three other central characters all have their own contradictions. Lots to be sorted out. Eventually nothing is totally. The uncertainty is the message.

The second confusing aspect is the extensive use of flashbacks without clear delineation of which time frame we're in. Often it takes the form of the narrator sharing a memory, or is it just his projection? We never quite know. At some point we learn of the British husband's death which leads to the American wife's death, she's been having an affair with him. But towards the end of the book the death of the British husband is described as clearing the way immediately to allow American husband to propose to the young woman who had fallen in love with the British husband who had just killed himself. But wait a minute, this timeline contradicts what we were earlier told had happened. Which is it?

The third aspect is the sort of sing song send up before opening the curtain which the author also used. The positive aspects are given to us at length before we learn the real story. The off handedness of this approach reminds me of Raymond Reddington in the Blacklist. He describes lovingly the paczkis made only in Prague. We meet the adorable old women in her old world bakery only to be led into to backroom where she's selling guns and rifles to the worst of characters. Contradictions galore.

And then of course there's the timeframe. If they only knew what's about to envelope them. This world is about to go poof. ( )
  Ed_Schneider | Oct 25, 2021 |
This is quite a novel, not at all what I expected. Set up as a tale told by the author to the reader while sitting by the fire, let's just say it would have lasted all night long! An American couple and a British couple spend 9+ agonizing years as friends. Originally titled "The Saddest Story", the perfect superficial and socially prescribed behavior is stripped away to reveal the deceitfulness, disloyalty, cruelty, manipulativeness, and selfishness of the characters. The visual image I consistently conjured in my mind's eye was a spiral, narrow at the top and ever widening towards the bottom. Essentials of the tale are returned to over and over as the author/narrator expands and furnishes increasing detail as to the unfolding of the melodrama which is this plot. Oddly, the writer tries to impose some modicum of order to the interpersonal chaos by insisting that every single significant event, over 9+ years, occurred on the 4th of the month. Weird, right? Anyway, it was a fascinating read! ( )
  hemlokgang | May 24, 2021 |
This book, first published in 1915 is about the relationships between two married couples, in the early 20th century. It is narrated by Dowell, now widowed, as he recalls the events starting ten years prior, leading up to his present circumstances. It is not told in a sequential format but wanders, as does ones mind, when recalling people and events. Dowell thought he knew the Ashburnhams well but realises he didn't know them at all. That what they presented was a facade.
I found it hard to like the characters some who were deceitful, promiscuous and arrogant, the narrator - idle, however I accept that they are reflective of a select group in society at this time. ( )
  HelenBaker | Mar 21, 2021 |
Written in 1914, with the title The Good Soldier you'd be forgiven for expecting this classic to be a war novel. However, the nearest we come to notions of war in this novel are those of the domestic strife kind concerning two couples who Ford refers to as "good people".

Ford Maddox Ford was an interesting character. Rubbing shoulders with the literary greats of the time, he co-wrote several novels with Joseph Conrad (touchy subject - Conrad got all of the credit from the publishers), published works in The English Review (which he founded) by the likes of Thomas Hardy, H.G. Wells, Conrad, Ezra Pound and Yeats, and in Paris published work by Hemingway, Joyce, Jean Rhys and Gertrude Stein in The Transatlantic Review. Despite prolifically writing his own memoirs, poetry, novels and critical essays, Ford was ultimately left disappointed and disillusioned that so many of his writing contemporaries, whose work he had championed as a publisher, left him in their wake with their much greater literary successes.

That being said, so much about this book fascinated me, despite at times befuddling me. In the introduction (written post it's original publication), Ford claims it was his best book, and I think it deserves to be remembered alongside the much better known publications of the era from his contemporaries. He insists that the book was in his head for 10 years, but as it was about personal friends he had to wait until they'd passed before being able to tell their story. Knowing as we do his own backstory of extra-marital affairs, one suspects that you might not have too look too far to find where his "friend" inspiration came from.

Originally Ford wished the novel to be called The Saddest Story before his publishers put their foot down, given the already sad enough reality of being a country at war. This theme plays out throughout the novel as the narrator reflects on the wasteful tragedy of the spiralling events that take place, and the sadness of a story where none of the characters ultimately find happiness.

The Good Soldier has been both criticised and revered for the manner in which it is narrated, a chronological hotch-potch that skips back and forth and round and round rather than being a linear retelling. Although I had to check back every now and then to make sure I hadn't missed something important, I'm definitely in the 'it works' camp. The narration style creates complex layers which definitely make you work as a reader, piecing together disjointed narrative which segues and digresses between what was known at the time and what was discovered later by the narrator to be true. However, in making sense of the story as you read it takes you on what feels like quite a literary journey, and when I reached the end and the last piece of the puzzle slipped into place it felt like I'd just experienced a pretty fine novel.

4 stars - I doubt that this will be my favourite novel of the year, but it was a good read nonetheless. ( )
  AlisonY | Feb 29, 2020 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Ford, Ford Madoxautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Bradshaw, DavidEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Henze, HeleneTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Kenner, HughIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lorch, FritzTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Saunders, MaxIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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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.
Florence was a personality of paper - she represented a real human being with a heart, with feelings, with sympathies and with emotions only as a bank note represents a certain quantity of gold.
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Ford Madox Ford's 1915 novel The Good Soldier has established itself as a masterpiece of literary modernism, taking its place alongside Ulysses and The Waste Land as a groundbreaking experimental work.

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