Review? Can you really review such a classic?
Originally titled The Saddest Story and heralded by Graham Greene as one of the finest novels of our century, Ford ‘s 1915 tale of passion and deceit in the lives of two married couples is a modernist masterpiece. The Norton Critical Edition of The Good Soldier allows the reader to thoroughly study Ford ‘s great work and unravel its mysteries and meanings. This Second Edition is again based on the meticulously edited first text of the novel and offers detailed annotation, a note on the text, and sections on textual variants and manuscript development along with pertinent illustrations. “Backgrounds and Contexts” brings together important appraisals of the work directly following its publication. Reactions from Rebecca West and Theodore Dreiser are included among the reviews. The section also collects critiques on literary impressionism, including one by Ford, and related writings by Henry James and by frequent Ford collaborator Joseph Conrad, among others. “Biographical and Critical Commentary” collects differing assessments of The Good Soldier. Contributions from Richard Aldington, Samuel Hynes, John A. Meixner, Frank Kermode, Carol Jacobs, Thomas C. Moser, Ann Barr Snitow, and Vincent J. Cheng are joined by new selections from Colm Toibin, John G. Peters, Max Saunders, Karen A. Hoffman, and Julian Barnes. A Selected Bibliography is also included.
Let me just start of by saying that I read this book for one of my Brit Lit classes. So, I had no choice but to finish it (because a Sparknotes-based knowledge would’ve done no good for the quizzes or essays).
However, I think I would’ve finished it anyway. (Although my friend she wouldn’t have, so there you go.)
- The really twisted, fucked up characters.
I just loved their miserable lives. They’re all so twisted and at times pathetic…and, at different points in the book, you get to feel sympathetic toward the characters while at others you hate them. They were all so believable and, at a psychological level, fascinating. They’re complex and flawed, like real people.
This story isn’t plot driven (and according to my professor, none of the modernist novels are), so the focus is more on the characters and how the story is told than anything else. That being said, there’s a fair bit of drama going on. Plus, I bet upon a second or third reading, the reader can “unravel” further “mysteries” within the book. I mean, there’s SO much going on that it keeps readers thinking, even after you’re done reading.
“I know nothing - nothing in the world - of the hearts of men. I only know that I am alone - horribly alone.”
― Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
It’s not chronological (like I said, the focus isn’t plot so you’ll find out things that in a normal novel happen at the end pretty early on, and that perhaps you didn’t want to know right away because they would’ve been your incentive for reading…).
It’s told in a rambling sort of way. Like the main character says: it’s his aim to tell the story as if he were verbally recounting it to a friendly soul on a quiet evening (Or something to that effect). So, the author really makes you work for it, but at the end, I felt I truly enjoyed the story.
If you accept the fact that you’re going to be confused and perhaps frustrated, then the book really becomes enjoyable.
For me, this book brought up a lot of questions about reality. So, what is reality? And the book actually doesn’t provide an answer. It just creates more questions. Granted, this may be frustrating for some…still, I’d give this book a try if I were you. ^.^
“If for nine years I have possessed a goodly apple that is rotten at the core and discover its rottenness only in nine years and six months less four days, isn’t it true to say that for nine years I possessed a goodly apple?”
― Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier