Read the good soldier by Ford Madox Ford Online


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 forgotteFirst 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...

Title : the good soldier
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ISBN : 8137464
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
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the good soldier Reviews

  • Darwin8u
    2019-03-01 09:10

    “I don't know what anyone has to be proud of.” ― Ford Madox Ford, The Good SoldierWhat? You mean this novel isn't about war? Is it possible to hate a book and love it at the same time? This is one of those books where it immediately becomes obvious you aren't going to read this novel for the strict pleasure of it. This book ain't ice cream on the beach folks. I don't think I've run across a more amoral, unsympathetic cast of characters since I visited Kehlsteinhaus. But, Ford Madox Ford is absolutely brilliant at portraying the decay, the depravity and the hypocrisy that existed in early 20th century English and American aristocracy. What a bunch of absolute rat bastards they all were. Nobody is happy. Nobody is true. Everybody gets eventually exactly what they deserve. This novel probably the most sexless novel containing the subtitle: A Tale of Passion. It is as sexy as a festering cavity and as passionate as an obsessive and unreliable group of narcissists can be. Two of my favorite writers were either heavily influenced by Ford (Graham Greene) or collaborated heavily with Ford (Joseph Conrad). This isn't a novel you can really ever love, but you will carry this novel with you and days and weeks later you still won't be able to escape its funky grasp. And THAT really is something.

  • Michael
    2019-03-04 09:57

    What a sick, rotten, depraved society we're treated to, populated by liars and knaves, and yet I found myself heartbroken by the end, wondering what kind of magic spell Ford had cast on me. Ford is an absolute master of technique--in this case the use of flashbacks and an unreliable narrator--and I found myself riveted throughout. The novel begins with one of the most famous opening lines in literature: "This is the saddest story I have ever heard." That may well be true.

  • Jr Bacdayan
    2019-02-21 05:03

    Storytelling is about as much an art as is writing. Any piece of paper can have beautifully constructed sentences, impeccable prose, dazzling verses, yet when there simply is nothing to tell all those words are moot. The alarming strength of the Good Soldier can be found in its maze-like narration that starts off with an innocent consciousness that through the pages, like a survivor seeing a massacre unfold as a blinding mist slowly recedes, realizes one by one the sins of the world he once thought blameless. Most novels take a linear approach to storytelling, which, if anything, makes it easier to follow. But Ford Madox Ford’s novel is unbridled both by the restraints of time, and the compunction to resist the temptation of misleading his audience. Certainly there have been a whole score of writers who have attempted to untangle the deathly winding strings of chaotic storytelling, but it is Madox Ford who truly succeeds in this aspect, if not the first to render it so masterfully. And so with this novel, it is no great wonder that he deeply influenced a bevy of wordsmiths who went on to become master storytellers themselves from Graham Greene to Julian Barnes. On the surface, the Good Soldier is a tale about two couples, one American – the Dowells, one English – the Ashburnhams, whose interconnected lives head towards a collision that would leave each of them devastated and shatter the perfectly fragile image of marriage in their souls. However upon closer inspection one realizes that this novel is truly centered on just one of them. This person, I won’t mention which, is the driving force that changes the direction of the haunted lives of the two couples. Of course, the somewhat unreliable narrator in John Dowell whose shifting account is responsible for the novel’s mysterious atmosphere is the observer whose feelings one directly learns. But as soon as the journey starts and things go on their way, one learns that his truth has always been missing a significant piece of information enough to contaminate the assumptions one holds. And thus, even though a lone figure is moving the story, each character gradually adds a distinct element of their truth to the pot of truths that will eventually reach its desolate perfection. “We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness to exist.”This novel opens saying “this is the saddest story I have ever heard.” And, yes, there certainly is a sentimental sort of sadness that affects this work. However, frightening seems more apt to describe the sensation grasping my heart as this story progresses. It does not only depict the horrifying life of marriages tainted by infidelity but mulls over the different kinds of individuals that exist within its exclusive walls, painfully hidden from the world, all searching for redemption in a sacred union which yields only torture. Through this novel, Ford Madox Ford shows us the terrifying reality of veiled innocence and the impending tragedy that awaits us as we learn of the horrible truths that are looming over us undetected, like a lost sheep unaware of a pack of wolves surrounding it waiting for the right moment in which lies certain death.

  • StevenGodin
    2019-02-23 08:11

    The Good Soldier I found to be a difficult book to grasp, at least to begin with. I felt the need to go back over the first 40 pages or so, just to try and accustom myself to it. Things paid of in the end, but it really did require patience, a quiet room, and reading big chunks at a time, rather than just picking off a few pages here and there. The theme is a strong one, that being marriage and adultery, with a narrator who you feel in the dark about, going over the events of two couples, one American, one English, the Ashburnhams, with whom they first meet at a German spa town early in the 1900's, thus they strike up a comfortable friendship. The story is told in a non chronological way, playing around with the memories of time. And there is one thing that struck me that I didn't first realize, the narrator (the American husband) didn't hear the story, he was a participant, and an arrogant one at that. The two couples would meet abroad for a month every year, and it transpires that one from each couple have been having a clandestine affair. You get the sense everything is drenched in misery, worry and panic the longer it goes on, even a partial happy ending feels false. In fact the very first line reads "This is the saddest story I have ever heard". Love here is most certainly a battlefield, through deception, contradiction, blind ignorance and sheer horror, the reader is taken over a threshold into an unsavoury world of troubling passions. There is an air of unreliability in it's fashion, in terms of the narrators voice. As if the beginning wasn't hard enough, he relates his tale jumping around in the middle of flashbacks, this would lead to things feel out of sequence, and leaving gaps that we are supposed to decipher, it's not a long novel, but does take a large dollop of grey matter, even as the full realization of what takes place gradually emerges, it's a story that calls for the attentive reader, but there were rewards as I tried to unpick all the fine details, as the narrator's unfolding interpretation of the passionate emotions manifested here are in very small gestures or brief remarks. This didn't always suit me, but Ford Madox Ford has written a clever and unique book that does at no time fall into your lap comfortably, but it's his style that ultimately gives it it's power, in turn I felt pity but also disgust at those involved. He paints the four portraits exceptionally well, Edward Ashburnham, the owner of a large estate in England; his wife, Leonora, daughter of impoverished Irish gentry, Florence, heiress to a New England fortune; and Nancy Rufford, Leonora's ward, who has lived with Edward and Leonora from the age of 13. And all at some point are plagued with melancholia and unsteady minds. It is clear as the novel proceeds we learn Edward and Leonora have no idea what intimacy is, and they also have no way of finding out, for one thing, nither read , and Leonora consults priests and nuns for marital advice. Edward consults no one, and there seems to be no structure in his life. Others of his class tell dirty stories, perhaps as a form of sharing information, but these only make Edward uncomfortable. Both the American and English marriages suffer from the emasculation of the husbands, and I think there is an element of unfair failures on behalf of Leonora and Florence, but Ford depicts the husbands more complexly and with a clearer eye. I have to say on the whole I am very impressed, the psychologies of his characters, the interweaving of memories that are done intentionally, and the sadness that echoes throughout, gets the thumbs up from me. I guess the overwhelming question is this, what do we truly know about the people we are supposed to know inside out?. A gracefully forlorn and beautifully explored read. 4/5

  • Sofia
    2019-03-21 03:49

    «Αυτή: η πιο θλιβερή ιστορία που έχω ποτέ μου ακούσει». Αυτή είναι η πρώτη πρόταση του Καλού Στρατιώτη και κατά την γνώμη μου η πιο περιεκτική όλου του μυθιστορήματος. Δεν είναι τυχαίο άλλωστε που ο ίδιος ο Ford είχε επιλέξει ως αρχικό τίτλο του βιβλίου το «Η πιο θλιβερή ιστορία» κάτι που δεν έγινε δεκτό από τον εκδότη ο οποίος δεν έβρισκε καθόλου δελεαστική την ιδέα να κυκλοφορήσει ένα βιβλίο με τον συγκεκριμένο τίτλο κατά την διάρκεια του Α’ Παγκοσμίου πολέμου.Το γιατί είναι τόσο θλιβερή αυτή η ιστορία έχει πολλές απαντήσεις που όσο προχωράς μέσα της γίνονται ταυτόχρονα ξεκάθαρες και πολύπλοκες, όπως οι άνθρωποι και τα πάθη τους. Αφηγητής και πρωταγωνιστής του μυθιστορήματος είναι ο Ντάουελ ο οποίος μας διηγείται την διάλυση τόσο του δικού του γάμου με την Φλορένς όσο κι εκείνου του φιλικού τους ζευγαριού,0 Έντουαρντ και Λεονόρα Άσμπερναμ.Με το πρόσχημα ότι ξεκίνησε να καταγράφει την παραπάνω ιστορία εδώ και κάποια χρόνια δημιουργεί μία ακανόνιστη, χρονικά και δομικά, αφήγηση πάνω από την όποια πλανάται ένα διαρκές «δεν ξέρω». Προσπαθεί να βρει επιχειρήματα για να δικαιολογήσει όλη αυτή την άγνοια ή ακόμα και την αφέλεια με την οποία αντιμετώπιζε την ζωή του αλλά ταυτόχρονα αναζητά δικαιολογίες σε μία προσπάθεια να μην ακυρώσει όλο τον έγγαμο βίο του ή την μακροχρόνια φιλία με αυτούς τους «καλούς ανθρώπους», όπως επανειλημμένα χαρακτηρίζει το ζεύγος Άσμπερναμ.«Αν για εννέα χρόνια είχα στην κατοχή μου ένα όμορφο μήλο που ήταν στον πυρήνα του σάπιο, κι ανακάλυψα την σαπίλα του μονάχα μετά από εννέα χρόνια κι έξι μήνες μείον τέσσερις ημέρες, δε θα’ ναι αληθές να πω ότι για εννέα χρόνια κρατούσα ένα όμορφο μήλο;»Αργά ή γρήγορα βέβαια όλα παίρνουν την πραγματική τους διάσταση και οι πρωταγωνιστές γίνονται αυτό που ήταν πάντα και καμία θρησκεία ή κοινωνικός περιορισμός δεν στέκεται ικανός να τους κρατήσει μακριά από τα ένστικτά τους.Αυτό που κάνει όμως την όλη ιστορία πραγματικά θλιβερή είναι ότι στο τέλος «κανείς δεν πήρε αυτό που ήθελε», όπως τόσο απλά κι έντιμα παραδέχεται ο αφηγητής μας. Και όχι μόνο αυτό. Κάθε πρωταγωνιστής της ιστορίας εκπροσωπεί μία ομάδα της κοινωνίας, μιας κοινωνίας που αγκαλιάζει κάθε τι κανονικό και περιφρονεί οτιδήποτε διαφέρει από αυτό.«Ο Έντουαρντ ήταν κανονικός άνθρωπος, αλλά υπήρχαν μεγάλες δόσεις συναισθηματισμού εντός του· και η κοινωνία δεν χρειάζεται πολύ συναισθηματισμό, δεν χρειάζεται πολλούς συναισθηματίες. Η Νάνσι ήταν ένα θαυμάσιο πλάσμα, αλλά είχε πάνω της το άγγιγμα της τρέλας· και η κοινωνία δεν χρειάζεται άτομα με το άγγιγμα της τρέλας πάνω τους.»Ο Καλός Στρατιώτης είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα που μπορεί να διαβαστεί με χίλιους τρόπους και να σε κερδίσει με άλλους τόσους. Η μετάφραση και το επίμετρο από τον Γιώργο-Ίκαρο Μπαμπασάκη ήταν ένα αριστούργημα. Για να είμαι ειλικρινής, βέβαια, δεν περίμενα τίποτα λιγότερο από μία τόσο αγαπημένη σειρά, όπως αυτή της Aldina.

  • ·Karen·
    2019-03-04 09:04

    Oh! Propriety!Nowadays there's a word for Edward Ashburnham. And I don't mean some modern vulgarity, unavailable to the Edwardians, something like emotional fuck-up, appropriate as that may be (or not). No, I'm thinking serial monogamist. The term is new, because the concept is new. At the turn of the 20th century there was monogamy. Or there was promiscuity: casual couplings with seamstresses, milliners, laundresses or the convenient and pliable housemaid. A taboo subject, to be spoken of in hushed tones in polite society. These affairs were of necessity casual, because the women, by succumbing to the blandishments of their suitors, had turned themselves into 'fallen' women, immediately and irretrievably. Business partners, the only question being that of remuneration or pay off when favours were no longer required. So in an age when women were thought of as either Madonna or Magdalene, in matters of the heart, Edward is a modern man, one who sincerely believes himself in love with the object of his desire. His laughable disconnect with conventional attitudes is portrayed in grotesque mode in his dealings with La Dolciquita, the mistress of the Grand Duke of Nauheim-Schwerin. With a passion that 'had arisen like a fire in dry corn' Ashburnham is ready to declare his undying love after a single night. The Spanish lady's passions however are of the more commercial kind. With all the romanticism of a risk assessment manager, she details for him the precise financial condition (twenty thousand) that might induce her to service him as well as the Duke. Premiums, policy, twenty per cent risk stand in sharp relief to Edward's discovery that 'he was madly, was passionately, was overwhelmingly in love with her.' Poor Edward. Poor noble, heroic, respectable, stupid man, to believe in true love. John Dowell, the narrator, has a word for him. Sentimentalist. A prey to his imagined sentiments.Serial monogamy, thus the Spanish lady is the first in a series. As one might imagine, the world of 1904 does not see this as a valid lifestyle choice. Nor does his wife truly embrace the situation, but rather tries to manage it, even anticipating his desires, arranging, paying expenses - pimping for him? She is certainly not of the disposition or religious convictions that would allow her to discreetly claim sauce for the goose as well as the gander, nor is divorce even thinkable. And like any society, the decorous world of 1904 exacts a price for aberrant behaviour. The price is high, and cannot be paid in hard currency, and will not be paid by Edward alone.Society must go on, I suppose, and society can only exist if the normal, if the virtuous, and the slightly-deceitful flourish, and if the passionate, the headstrong, and the too-truthful are condemned to suicide and madness. What I've said so far might make this look like a fairly ornery (melodramatic?) exposé of hypocritical Edwardian sexual mores, the story of an unhappy marriage. Complexity is added by John Dowell, our narrator, being one half of a second couple, who dance an intricate minuet with the Ashburnhams. But what makes this so powerful, so mysterious, so haunting is the method of narration. Ford was a friend of Joseph Conrad. Both of them championed the technique that Ford called progression d'effet: as the story progresses it should move forward faster and faster and with more and more intensity. Well, I can testify to unmitigated success there. The start was slow, and demanded a little back and forth and round about, but from part 2 onwards the pages seemed to turn themselves, and from part 3 I'd have robbed myself of any amount of sleep to finish it.In my recent review of Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (gad that sounds soooo pretentious) I mused a little on how a first person narrator could be an encumbrance or limitation. But here the opposite is the case: John Dowell's apparently haphazard way of telling this sad story adds layer upon layer. First there is the challenge of working out the chronology of events, then there are those puzzling enigmas whose true significance only becomes apparent much later, and, most engaging of all, there is the much-debated question of how much we can trust John Dowell at all. Is he disingenuous, or deliberately manipulative, or simply ignorant (as he claims)? This may be the saddest story he's ever heard - heard? But he's telling it! - but is he aware how funny he sometimes is? The delicious irony: before La Dolciquita, Edward gave himself a nasty jar when he found himself comforting a weeping nursemaid in a third class railway carriage, and went a little too far in his half-fatherly concern. The result? The Kilsyte Case. Not quite Dreyfus material, but nasty for him all the same. Multiple ironies: he was travelling third class (!) to please Leonora - see I can economise! - and would never even have met a nursemaid in first class; this, the most innocent of his affairs had the gravest of judicial consequences, and the final irony is that his brush with the law did not discourage him from more flirtation, but in fact opened up the country. Oh, and it brought him closer to his wife.There is more, so much more than the question of marital fidelity: social classes, America and England, deception - ah deception! Dowell's wife! But I won't spoil it for you. Impressions and ideas. Our first impressions of people, how reliable are they? And Dowell disconfirms the first impressions he gives us over and over and over. Ideas, concepts: can we experience a feeling before we know intellectually that such an emotion exists? Can we feel anything that hasn't had a name put to it?I'm certain that I will read this again, and if I wrote another review after the second reading it would probably be totally different. And again after the third. Is there any higher praise?

  • Chris
    2019-02-24 01:42

    Today’s special from the bill of fare: Crow. Market Price. Served with a complimentary slice of stale pumpernickel and a glass of river water.I really did not think I was going to enjoy this book one bit; I also erroneously believed it was included in the collection of crap known as Time’s ‘100 Best 20th Century Novels’, and the fact it isn’t is probably why it was actually enjoyable. This is, however, included on several other ‘hits lists’, such as the ridiculous 1001 Books to Read Before You Die (which is basically 901 lame entries longer than Time’s list) and Another Preposterous List of Over-Hyped Books by Some Barmy Old Codgers Adorned With Glowing Accolades For Their Thorough Understanding of Meritorious Literature. After reading “The Good Soldier”, I have no problem offering my own totally unfounded pronouncement that this book should be considered for inclusion on any such list. This is the second story in a row for me (following Martin Amis’s “Success”) in which the central gimmick of the tale is unreliable narration and point of view; and while the p.o.v. and narration are always a key factor to a story, in both of these cases the importance and bearing is decidedly pronounced, every event must be considered and weighed in light of the narration before attempting to discern its ultimate reality. I tend to look at these stories in the light that the author knows that the fibers of the yarn they’re spinning aren’t unique nor profound, but the way in which it is spun is compelling; thus to me it’s more of an exercise in writing than captivating storytelling. Narrating “The Good Soldier” is Captain Oblivious, better known as John Dowell to his extremely small group of friends, who readily admits that he isn’t a very perceptive fellow, nor is he very good at getting across a story in a straightforward fashion, so he begs that the reader understand that his intention is to lay this saddest of stories out in a fashion as though he was sitting by the fire with a close and attentive confidant (and a bottle of brandy), simply discussing any pertinent events as they come to mind regardless of their rightful chronological juxtaposition. I actually found the technique effective at making John Dowell an extremely likeable character, but at the same time it does completely strip away much of the oomph which should be imparted by any event that might be seen as pivotal or climactic: by page ten you already know the unfortunate outcome of the story, all that is left is to get the details, a difficult feat when your narrator has powers of perception trumped by those of an aardvark in a sensory deprivation tank. There is no way you can really create a ‘spoiler’ for this work, at least not for anyone who has so much as begun reading it. Capt. Oblivious has to get this story off his chest, and so he’s telling it to you, dear reader. It concerns his deceitful trollop wife, Florence, and the couple which they are best friends with, the well-shod Edward and Leonora Ashburnham. The foursome meet for the first time in Nauheim, Germany, at a spa reputed for their effectiveness in combating cardiac problems, which is required for the well being of Florence Dowell and Edward Ashburnham, and proceed to accompany each other for the next decade to Nauheim, outwardly portraying the ideal friendship of two affluent, successful, and loving couples. Little does anyone know that beneath this veneer, things are worse than can even be imagined, and interestingly enough, Captain Oblivious seems to be on the outside looking in as well, clueless as to what transpires after his nightly blackout from overindulgence of gin. But, it’s been some time since the blinders were removed from our narrator, who has taken his time to collect his thoughts and connect the dots, and he can now make some sort of sense of the proceedings. Both couples are of good social standing in polite society, or ‘Good People’, as John Dowell assures us often. Both men proudly hail from old, established wealth, and Edward ended up with Leonora due to an arranged marriage of sorts, and John pursued Florence for what seems like no better reason than to acquire a trophy wife while shirking anything resembling employment or social responsibility (had World of Warcraft existed at the time, he’d probably never have bothered, and would have set a Guiness World Record for most hours logged of online play). The couples share one very interesting aspect in their unions; it appears that neither has ever consummated their marriage. The reasons for this strange lack of passion are similar; Edward Ashburnham is an english Adonis whom women clamor for the attentions of, and he makes sure to perform the gentlemanly duty of never denying a lady, and Florence Dowell was (unbeknownst to Captain Oblivious) quite the tramp before John ever made her acquaintance. John, who has absolutely no clue as to what is going on, is under the belief that Flo has a heart condition, and that the act of lovemaking might potentially sound her death knell, thus the trips to Nauheim and other strange facets of her behavior, which all reek of subterfuge to the normal human. Leonora is completely aware of Edward’s infidelities, which have all taken the form of long-term ordeals with increasing passion for his partners, but in order to maintain the façade of Good People, she dutifully covers these transgressions up, while also taking over her husband’s business affairs to prevent them from financial ruin due to his nature as a wastrel. As absurd as it may seem, the easiest time that Leonora has ever had keeping the rest of society’s upper crust from discovering her husband’s true nature is in suppressing the trysts which Edward and Florence have been continuing for years. Naturally, if this knowledge never saw the light of day, there wouldn’t be a story. There isn’t a whole lot that keeps me from giving “The Good Soldier” a full five stars. I’ll say this is a four-and-a-half, but will round it down, for the following reasons: First, the end of the novel seems to taper off. I understand that there is a lapse in the amount of time that has passed in the narration itself when John Dowell resumes to tell Part IV, and I interpreted this to be representative of his preoccupation with changes in his lifestyle (most notably Ms. Rufford’s presence), a marked descent into melancholia, and generally a lack of enthusiasm to find the right fit for the remaining puzzle pieces. This is all good and well, but the first three parts are so ecstatically told, that I couldn’t really enjoy his festering ennui. Secondly, his continuous praise of Edward Ashburnham. The way Ford approaches the narration manages to make even despicable frauds like Edward and Florence likable, no easy feat, and Dowell’s conviction even made me like the guy. But his praise was incessant, and left me wondering which of the Dowells Edward was actually buggering.Lastly, one thing which I still haven't quite wrapped my head around; so I don’t know whether to call this a positive or a negative. It is mentioned repeatedly that prior to his ugly demise, Edward went on a long-winded speech/apology/rant to John. As I was personally craving to hear it, it was a tremendous let down that it is completely left out of the story!! Or is it? (cue Twilight Zone music). Sure, Dowell admits to having skipped many significant details from lack of proper recollection, but he does make reference to Edward’s Grand Pronouncement about 30 times, and each reference connects it to some event or sentiment. Could this great confession be surreptitiously dispersed throughout the novel, and one could go back and reconstruct the gist of it themselves? If so, it’s possible that this might be the cleverest trick in storytelling I’ve personally been subjected to. Or I suppose I could just be really baked.

  • Kelly
    2019-03-02 07:42

    Wow, was this well done. I almost wrote 'fantastic', but that didn't seem appropriate to the mood of the piece. It is also throughly soul-crushing, of course, but that shouldn't affect your reading plans in favor of it. It really is a must-read, I think. The book is a thorough condemnation of the principles of Edwardian society and the Victorian society that came before it, made all the more effective by the fact that it comes from the most unlikely source, a timid, quiet American man who has happened to fall into this drama that he never wanted to be a part of. He is a throughly unreliable narrator, telling the tale "as one would to a friend by the fireside," jumping back and forth in time and giving one opinion of a person, place or event, and then remembering something else and adding in details on that later. His own personal feelings on situations also come into play, in the background, affecting his judgement in a really heartbreaking sort of way. I got as interested in the silences of the narrator as his retelling of the tale of the others around him. I think really that /his/ is the "saddest story ever told," or at least on par with the story that he is telling. The unreliable narrator convention works brilliantly here, drawing the reader into the story with a sympathy for the narrator (Mr. Dowell), as well as easily listening to the tale as if they were that friend by the fireside. I will say that it may get a bit confusing for some people, due to its rambling, wandering structure, but honestly, it is worth it in the end. It really makes it all come out beautifully. One really does end up rooting for characters that in the "conventional" sense, would range from vain to mildly despicable to foolish, if all we got was their most basic actions and story. I don't think I have ever rooted for a man's infidelities that much in a novel. But never unambiguously. He does not allow one's opinion to be that simple on either side. Novels that are "grey" are always the best ones. Ford Madox Ford was in the thick of the Lost Generation when he wrote this, so his very bleak outlook on life, and disllusionment with society is not an usual attitude to find. He was friends with Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, after all. It was interesting to me to note, however, the parallels between his statements on pre-World War I society and those of the primordialists, who were the primary intellectual advocates for "change", and saw Victorian/Edwardian society as inwardly rotting, full of ennui, stuck in a rut, essentially. Which is what Ford undubitably belives here. However, it is the primordiailst attitude that promoted the crowds' wild reception of World War I, the cheering masses that came out in support of it, despite how easily it could have been avoided. And yet this book supports all those passions that were a part of that movement. I cannot tell if there is some condemnation of himself in there, some self-hatred, for believing this. He asks of his reader at the end of the novel, "Who really is the villain of the piece?" He has his narrator change his opinion on that several times, and mine also changed. I'm still wrestling over it a bit.Anyway, read it

  • Sara
    2019-03-03 10:07

    This is a story of two marriages, a philandering husband, a controlling wife, living lies, keeping up appearances, misusing religion and pursuing happiness in all the wrong places. It is told by an unreliable narrator who scarcely seems to understand the import of the story himself. It is wonderfully constructed, gloriously convoluted, and amazingly misdirected. The narrator tells us, "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." He bounces back and forth and reveals in increments and as he does, your view of the people and events changes and changes and changes again.It is a queer and fantastic world. Why can't people have what they want? The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has the wrong thing. Perhaps you can make head or tail of it; it is beyond me. Indeed, it is beyond them all, because none of them seems to know what they want or what they feel, and the not knowing is a trap with serious consequences.I liked this book tremendously. Much more than I thought I was going to when I began it. Ford almost does magic, because he makes you shift your perspective and your view and your understanding of the characters until you have flipped your impressions on their heads, but he does it without making you feel cheated or misinformed. And, so it is in life. We often form opinions on too little information. First impressions are often wrong. A small bit of information can make us see everything in a different light. And, placing blame is not always easy.

  • Eliasdgian
    2019-03-12 05:03

    «Αυτή: η πιο θλιβερή ιστορία που έχω ποτέ μου ακούσει – η πιο θλιβερή».Είναι η φράση οδοδείκτης με την οποία ο Ford Madox Ford υποδέχεται τους αναγνώστες του σε τούτο το μυθιστόρημα - κομψοτέχνημα που, διόλου άδικα, συγκαταλέγεται στα αριστουργήματα της παγκόσμιας λογοτεχνίας. Είναι η εισαγωγή και το καλωσόρισμα σε ένα κρεσέντο παθών, σε μιαν εξομολόγηση ενοχών, σε ένα δράμα που χτίζεται και κορυφώνεται τελετουργικά: σελίδα τη σελίδα, λέξη τη λέξη, ό,τι πιο μύχιο (μπορεί να) φωλιάζει στην ψυχή των ηρώων του Καλού Στρατιώτη έρχεται όλο και πιο σιμά στο φως. Όχι για να καεί, αλλά για να εξαγνιστεί. Αυτός, ο μέγας ανατόμος των ανθρώπινων σχέσεων, ο Ford Madox Ford, αφηγείται μια ιστορία πάθους, απιστίας και εγκαρτέρησης. Δύο ευκατάτατα ζευγάρια, οι Αμερικανοί Τζον και Φλόρενς Ντόουελ και οι εγγλέζοι Έντουαρντ και Λεονόρα Άσμπερναμ, απολαμβάνουν τα καλοκαίρια τους στη γερμανική λουτρόπολη του Νάουχαιμ. Ο λόγος της παραμονής τους εκεί είναι πως τόσο η Φλόρενς, όσο και ο Έντουαρντ, ο καλός στρατιώτης του τίτλου, πάσχουν από την καρδιά τους. Φαινομενικά, πρόκειται για τέσσερις ανθρώπους που μοιάζουν να έχουν τις ίδιες προτιμήσεις και επιθυμίες, που δρουν αξεχώριστα σαν ένα σώμα, μια ψυχή. Συναντώνται για πρώτη φορά το 1904 κι ανανεώνουν το ραντεβού τους κάθε καλοκαίρι μέχρι το 1913. Εννέα χρόνια γαλήνης που διακόπτονται βίαια και με πάταγο, σαν κάθε σαθρό οικοδόμημα που ήρθε η ώρα του να καταρρεύσει: «Αν για εννέα χρόνια είχα στην κατοχή μου ένα όμορφο μήλο που ήταν στον πυρήνα του σάπιο, κι ανακάλυψα τη σαπίλα του μονάχα μετά απο εννέα χρόνια κι έξι μήνες μείον τέσσερις ημέρες, δεν θα είναι αληθές να πω ότι για εννέα χρόνια κρατούσα μήλο; Έτσι λοιπόν μπορεί να είναι και με τον Έντουαρντ Άσμπερναμ, με τη Λεονόρα, τη γυναίκα του, και με την καλή μου και άμοιρη Φλόρενς».Οι κατά φαινόμενο τέλειοι γάμοι των ηρώων του βιβλίου αποδομούνται καθώς ο Τζον Ντόουελ αφηγείται. Με έναν τρόπο ακανόνιστο, χωρίς συνοχή, που μοιάζει περισσότερο με λαβύρινθο, όσα διαδραματίστηκαν και σημάδεψαν τις σχέσεις των ζευγαριών της ιστορίας μας εξωθούνται στο φως. Όπως συμβαίνει πάντοτε σε κάθε λυπηρή και θλιμμένη ιστορία, ο αφηγητής της πηδάει ακανόνιστα από το παρελθόν στο μέλλον κι από το μέλλον στο παρελθόν. Σημεία που παραλείφθηκαν, αλλά έπρεπε οπωσδήποτε να θιγούν, παρεμβάλλονται κατά τον ρουν της ιστορίας, γιατί ο σκοπός του αφηγητή δεν είναι άλλος παρά να γίνουν γνωστά όλα τα επεισόδια του προσωπικού του δράματος∙ κάθε λεπτομέρεια που οδήγησε στην κορύφωσή του και κάθε υποβόσκον συναίσθημα που έφτασε ο καιρός να εκφραστεί. Άδολοι έρωτες, ασθμαίνουσες σχέσεις, αποκαμωμένες καρδιές: που φλογίζονται και διψούν για τον έρωτα, που αρνούνται να δουν τι προμηνύει η διασάλευση των αισθήσεων που προκαλεί η παρουσία τρίτων προσώπων στο πλάνο, μεταξύ των οποίων αυτή της Νάνσι Ράφορντ, προστατευόμενης του ζεύγους Άσμπερναμ. Τι άλλο είναι η ανθρωπότητα παρά ένα μητρώο θλίψεων, αναλοζίγεται ο συγγραφέας και θέτει ξανά και ξανά το ίδιο, αναπόφευκτα αναπάντητο, ερώτημα: «Μπορεί να υπάρξει άραγε ένας επίγειος παράδεισος όπου ανάμεσα στο θρόισμα, ανάμεσα στους ψιθύρους των φύλλων των ελιών, να μπορούν οι άνθρωποι να είναι αυτοί που θέλουν και να έχουν ό,τι θέλουν και να γαληνεύουν αμέριμνοι κάτω απ’ τις σκιές και μες τη δροσιά; Ή είναι οι ζωές όλων των ανθρώπων σαν τις ζωές μας, σαν τις ζωές των καλών ανθρώπων; Σαν τις ζωές των Άσμπερναμ και των Ντόουελ και των Ράφορντ –τσακισμένες, θυελλώδεις, αγωνιώδεις και αντιρομαντικές, περίοδοι με σημεία στίξεως, κραυγές, ανημπόριες, θανάτους, αγωνίες; Ποιος διάβολο ξέρει;». Επιγραμματικά, όσο πιο λιτά γίνεται να ειπωθεί, ο Καλός Στρατιώτης είναι μυθιστόρημα πολλών λαμπερών αστεριών (έστω πέντε, όσο το πλαφόν της ιστοσελίδας που μας φιλοξενεί)∙ με ιδιαίτερη μνεία στο τέταρτο και τελευταίο κεφάλαιο του βιβλίου που δεν θα μπορούσε να χαρακτηριστεί διαφορετικά παρά ως απλώς μνημειώδες.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-03-02 04:47

    He is found lying in the pool of his own blood at the entrance of his bakery. He has slit his throat with a sharp knife. Have you seen how a chicken is killed in the kitchen? The butcher or the cook does not fully decapitate the chicken right away. He first slits the chicken’s neck and collects the blood in a saucer with raw rice. This blood in rice can be added to the viand later together with the rest of the chicken meat. The man, likened to the chicken, was the husband of my paternal grandfather’s sister. He killed himself because he found out that his wife was having an affair with their baker. It remains as one of the biggest scandals in the history of our island-town unequaled even up to now. It’s just that only the really old people could still recall the story told to them by their parents. All those who lived during that time are already dead. It probably happened at the same time, 1910-1914, when Ford Madox Ford (x) wrote this book, The Good Soldier.I am not sure what went on during those years. As another example, in her lifetime, my paternal grandmother had 3 husbands. Maybe it was because of the wars had directly or indirectly had some effects to the needs, I don’t want to say libido because they were my ancestors, or morale of their generation. Maybe because of fear (from war and chaos), they wanted to have a stronger assurance, through amorous illicit affairs, from somebody that their legal partners could not provide. Ford originally thought of giving this book, The Good Soldier the title The Saddest Story as he begins his narration with the line ”This is the saddest story that I heard so far.”, I read 400+ novels and I can say that this, indeed, is one of the saddest novels I’ve read so far. It is a story of two couples, 2 of them plus one of the mistresses die before the story ends. One American couple, John Dowell, the narrator and his wife for nine years, Florence goes to Europe because Florence wants to live there.. Their marriage cannot be consummated because Florence has a heart problem which later gets divulged to be untrue as she is having an affair with Jimmy the cabin boy. In Paris, the John and Florence meet and English couple, Edward who has plan to join the British army and John sees him as a perfect gentleman (thus the titleThe Good Soldier) and Leonora, the devout Catholic woman. I will not spoil it by telling you the complete plot. Suffice it to say that the way Ford made their lives interwoven is so disturbing that it made me recall the stories from generations past of my own lineage. Does infidelity run in my blood? I hope not.I am rating with 3 stars for two reasons: (1) I understand that the narrator wants himself to be just an observer and he shows indifference to the story. For example, when asked the question how does it "feel to be a deceived husband?" and he can only respond with the answer: "Heavens, I do not know. It just feels nothing at all." This is quite unbelievable. Well, based on the story of my forefather who had to kill himself because of his wife’s treachery or deception; (2) For quite some time now, I have been trying to read war novels and the title deceived me. There is not a single war scene in this book. This is about passion, adultery, deception, murder, suicide, etc. but not war. The rambling-like narration is understandable because John Dowell is part of the story and telling everything once again should be painful for him. Thus the sporadic and fragmentary recall of the incidents is justifiable and for me, makes the story more interesting as far as form is concerned.

  • David
    2019-03-03 05:48

    The Good Soldier is so heartbreakingly beautiful. I wonder if I have ever felt so conflicted when a book came to an end, on the one hand I didn't want the experience to end - I unearthed gems on every page, gems of solemnity, disappointment, angst, and insight; on the other, each page filled me with renewed heartbreak. The "saddest story" is about two couples, the upright up-class English Ashburnhams (Edward (the eponymous, ironic "good soldier") and Leonora) and the American Dowells (John (our tragically naive or self-deceptive narrator), and Florence). Th Good Soldier is "about" two couple's disintegration, poisoned by infidelity and deception; but more deeply than that it is about the impotence of the human condition (represented in the specific and literal impotence of John Dowell). This book finishes where it begins, and the whole distillation of it can be summed up best as by John Dowell:It is a queer and fantastic world. Why can't people have what they want? The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has got the wrong thing. Perhaps you can make head or tail of it; it is beyond me. Is there any terrestrial paradise where, amidst the whispering of the olive-leaves, people can be with whom they like and have what they like and take their ease in shadows and in coolness? Why can't people have what they want? That's really the pivotal question of all literature, of everything it means to be human. Everyone wants something, someone, but can't have everything they want - and if they get everything they want, it lacks novelty and then they want novelty above all else. Because we're human, we want what we don't have, and oftenest what we can't have. Dowell's allusion to the "terrestrial paradise" - to Adam and Eve's paradise - is perfect, poignant. We give up perfection for something that is flawed but forbidden. Since it is unknown to us we cannot know it's flaws, know it's true consequences, until we break with what we have and try it. But what if to try it is to lose everything? This struggle, this self-burning passion for "something other than what we have" is elucidated by Proust, who compares our longing to "an idle harp, [which] wants to resonate under some hand, even a rough one, and even if it might be broken by it." And this tactile desire, to be touched - even if it is by a rough hand, a worse hand - is central to the dilemma of infidelity. So many eternal novels revolve on the axis of infidelity, and we read them, and we love them, we feel that we relate to them even when we are models of fidelity. As a society we relate to these marital transgressions because we know what it's like to feel both content and dissatisfied with what we have. We don't really want to be satisfied, we want to be surfeit, and we feel that we can never know if that over-fullness of joy is possible unless we take impossible chances, risk losing everything. But few of us are really willing to risk everything if we don't have to. We feel that by discretion or mock devotion we can keep what we have while we seek what we want - and this is the Janus-faced desire at the heart of The Good Soldier. The character of Edward Ashburnam is the complete essence of this desire (though it is apparent in the four main characters), his transgressions are not about sex, nor necessarily about "love" - but about a romantic vision of what love should be, which is often defined by what he doesn't have with Leonora. Whether it is with Nancy or Florence, or any of his other mistresses, he is endlessly looking for something, but never knows what it is. But despite his errant heart, it never is willing to stray completely from Leonora. Even though she is cold to him, and grows colder, some part of him loves her to the state of devotion, of, ultimately, sacrifice of that desire and of his life. Leonora wants nothing more than her husband's love, but she will never let herself have it. As a result at first of stifling convention of her upbringing, and her own insecurities, she cannot bring herself to give herself up to Edward. As they grow older and he strays from her, her love for him become a love only of possession and control - she controls him by forgiving him, but by inwardly hating her own forgiveness. Edward knows that he has harmed his wife, that he has made her cold to him, and his own compunction keeps him from breaking with her completely. Leonora, who has almost perfect knowledge of the melodrama happenings in the novel, perhaps wishes most, unconsciously, to have the naivete of John Dowell. Her diligent, but mirthless, hunt for knowledge, is self-immolating. She convinces herself of Edwards guilt and persecutes him with her coldness, but in doing so makes attainment of his love impossible. Her problem parallel's John's, though her knowledge makes her marriage impossible to enjoy: "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?" Unlike Dowell, Leonora assumes from the start that Edward is rotten at the core, and so she forgoes even a honeymoon happiness.Florence is, perhaps, the most difficult character to understand. At turns she is portrayed by her husband-cuckold-narrator in terms of pre-disillusionment idealism, and post-disillusionment vitriol; paragon of demur innocence, and reviled harlot. In some ways I think she risks everything when she marries Dowell, and then regrets it, and her's is the story of trying to escape her own choices. On the surface, she may be literally seeking sexual satisfaction, which her impotent husband cannot offer her, but I suspect her problem is not so simple. I don't think I believe that she ever really loved Dowell, but I also don't believe that she ever loved Edward either - I think that she doesn't know what love is, and perhaps equates it with some amalgam of sex and romance - two things which the painter and Edward both fulfill her with. But love has to have some element of spiritual, passionate devotion, something that is adds value to the Self and adds value to the Other - something like looking though a window at the one you love, but seeing also your reflection in the glass. Florence can only see through the medium, she can only picture the value of the other, as something which has a set price, and which she can shop for, she never receives anything in her extra-marital exchanges, at least nothing like what Dowell is willing to offer her - everything he has, everything he can be. And she throws it away, and sometimes we all do that. We throw away something either because we see something better, or maybe we throw it away by accident, by forgetfulness.Despite the difficulties, the heartbreak, despite the cruel ironies and bitter inconsistencies of the Ashburnams (primarily) and the Dowells (secondarily), this is a truly beautiful novel - a testament that all human emotion, even pain, has beauty. What struck me most was John Dowell as the narrator, his constant back-and-forth dance in time, the strange significance on coincidence and the date of August 2, when many of the novel's events take place, though years apart, made me question his mental faculties. Health is so recurring a motif in the novel, the weak "hearts" of Florence and Edward, the sanatorium in Nauheim where they meet, the confused illness of Florence's family, etc. and the claim that Nancy has become an invalid at the end. But we never hear about how the psyche of Dowell survived the self-styled saddest story, at least not directly. This novel, which I love, which is perhaps one of my favorites for ever, owes its complete brilliance of emotion, splendor of style, and so forth, to it's narrator - the wonderfully crafted and contradicted and confused John Dowell. I was lulled and enchanted by his solemn insightfulness, his somber story-telling, his impotent view of the human condition. I love Dowell. He is naive, he is imperfect and flawed, he self-deceives and is too-quick to trust those who deceive him - but that's so human, and I sympathize with him at the same time as I criticize his human foolishness.

  • knig
    2019-03-17 02:12

    Why is this titled ‘the Good Soldier’? Edward was a soldier, for a spell. Edward of the nefarious quadratic epicentre where, after the music stopped everyone sat on the wrong chair. Is narrator John Dowell (where only Dowell seems to appear in the text and you have to read FMF’s intro to gather it was prefixed by a John, a man insignificant enough to not have a name?) in love with him? And did said John ever consummate his twelve year marriage to Florence? And, do lets dig some more dirt: did Edward ever consummate HIS marriage to Leonora? I ask because apparently as late as 1918 people didn’t know how babies were made. Yup. Mary Stopes had to spell it out in a 1918 publication of ‘Married Life’. So it might shed some light as to why Leonora and Edward had no issue, but later on, give her a wink and a nod in the haystack with Rodney Bayham and hey presto, the buns in the oven. So thats the infamous quartet: Leonora and Edward, John and Florence. Everybody is shagging everybody else apart from the people they’re supposed to be shagging. Except maybe John, actually, who isn’t shagging anyone. Well, thats understandable. The thing is, you can’t shag and write. Its either one or the other. Mutually exclusive sort of thing. As in, if you’re out putting it about, then you’re not in writing it out. We know this from the fringe-alised narrator in Sophie’s Choice, or the Great Gatsby, or anywhere else where we have the Fringe Hero (umm, trademark?) holding the margins whilst the less loquacious but more virile specimens of humanity battle it out in delicto flagrante. So it goes. If you’re here reading and not out shagging, you know which camp you’re in . ‘Nuff said.But even so, how can John Dowell NOT shag for the 15 years or so over the span of this story? Because he is a Malesub. He likes to Man Friday it about. The bloke is a nurse to his wife for 12 years: don’t tell me he didn’t felch it once in a while, wittingly or not. What does he do then? Move on to nursing a Nancy. Who has a brain like a swiss cheese, but is femmedom between the lines. Of his brain.The rest? Trapped like a hare in headlights. Nowhere to go. Imprisoned within the confines of their own minds: minds which create worlds and prisons and mores to bind and break: just like the proverbial story of the elephant who was chained for so long to a tree, that when he was finally let loose he never strayed from that tree til he died: he had, effectively, become his own judge, jury and executor.Its a quirk that you shrivel when all you’re ever doing is what you’re supposed to be doing rather than what you want to be doing. But prolly necessary. Where would we ALL be if 90% of us weren’t preprogrammed Borg drones, keeping the Hive going...........................................................Sheesh, let me not forget how FMX fucks fiddles fuck time. Normally I hate contrived shenanigans, as in The Time Travellers Wife. Don’t get me started on Dr Who. But FMX, he is a time line Titan.

  • Kai
    2019-02-24 04:53

    “We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness to exist.”This novel is so stunning. Oh my god. I did not expect this (and that! And that, too! So many unexpected things!).Anyway, I will write a more detailed (and less confusing) reviewas soon as we've discussed it in class.But let me tell you, I've never read anything like this before.Find more of my books on Instagram

  • Teresa Proença
    2019-03-01 07:53

    Ford Madox Fordnasceu em Inglaterra em 1873 e morreu em França em 1939. Foi grande amigo de Joseph Conrad tendo escrito, em colaboração com ele, um romance de ficção-científica - Os Herdeiros - Uma História Extravagante. O Bom Soldado é considerada a sua melhor obra, fazendo as delícias dos leitores, pela surpresa e pelo divertimento, desde a sua publicação em 1915. É considerado um dos clássicos do século XX e aparece em muitas listas The Best Books.O Bom Soldado: Uma História de Paixão"Esta é a história mais triste jamais contada." Um início prometedor mas enganador. Não é a história mais triste, nem a mais divertida. Nem sequer é uma história original; paixões, suicídios, casamentos fastidiosos, infidelidades, são casos comuns na literatura. O que torna este romance uma delícia é a forma como é narrado. Edward Ashburnham e Leonora são um casal inglês que, durante umas férias, conhece o casal americano John Dowell e Florence, com o qual convive durante nove anos. O Capitão Ashburnham (o bom soldado) é um pinga-amor; Leonora é uma dama e uma esposa compreensiva sempre atarefada a tapar os buracos que o marido abre com as suas leviandades; Florence é uma doente cardíaca que dorme de porta trancada, porque qualquer intimidade com o marido lhe pode provocar uma sincope mortal;John é um homem crédulo, confiante e um esposo extremoso. É Dowell que conta a história, dirigindo-se directamente ao leitor, de uma forma desordenada - misturando o momento presente com recordações do passado - e aos poucos vai revelando e revelando-se e, no fim, nada é o que parece. Assim como nos acontece quando conhecemos alguém e de quem, à primeira vista, gostamos ou não, mas - pelo que ouvimos da pessoa, do que os outros contam, do que observamos - acabamos, noutros momentos, por ter uma opinião completamente diferente da inicial. Esta é A Mais Triste de Todas as Histórias mas, como diz na introdução, apenas "para quem sofra do mal da sisudez, que é um mal do coração."É um romance surpreendente que promete uma tragédia e oferece uma comédia. Não é um livro de difícil compreensão embora exija uma leitura atenta, por a narrativa ser tão saltitante e o narrador pouco colaborante, sempre a ocultar os seus pontos fracos, quer da consorte quer do leitor/ouvinte."Em todas as associações matrimonias há, ao que creio, um factor constante: o desejo de ocultar à pessoa com quem se vive algum ponto fraco do nosso carácter. É que é intolerável viver constantemente com um ser humano que apercebe os nossos pequenos defeitos. É verdadeiramente normal fazê-lo e por isso é que muitos casamentos resultam infelizes."Quando o terminei fiquei na dúvida se seria um livro de "gosto muito" ou "gosto muito muito". Deixei-o uns dias "a apanhar ar" para ver se tudo se evaporava ou algo me ficava. Ficou. Entre outras coisas, reforçou a minha convicção de que ninguém é transparente para ninguém e que viver (e ler) é uma constante surpresa que nos impede de morrer de tédio...

  • Shane
    2019-03-22 09:57

    This is indeed a sad story, where no one gets what they want.Based on a true story and revolving around two couples, one English the other American, and narrated by the American husband, this novel is told in an experimental style. When I mean told, there is very little dialogue and most of the incidents come out in dribs and drabs, out of sequence, and from a rather unreliable narrator who constantly contradicts his statements. The narrator goes over old ground frequently, mostly trying to reconcile events in his own head, expanding on an already recounted incident or reversing it. A jumbled picture emerges, both of the characters and the storyline.The plot is thin: the English wife is frigid and the American wife has a weak heart. Consequently both marriages have not been consummated. The English wife, a Catholic, is content to preserve her husband’s peccadilloes, covering them up, paying blackmail and helping to cut their losses by running the family finances frugally. The American husband is rich, has never worked in his life, is a bit of a dullard yet is content to protect his fragile wife and her health. However, the American wife and the English husband are having an affair and cheating on their partners in the meantime. All are well meaning individuals and are bound by the conventions of their cultural and social standing. It does not require much imagination to figure out the tragic ending.I suppose the author was experimenting with a new style and he achieves it with this novel, for it takes concentration to read and unravel the various story threads from the messy tangle in which they are presented. Is it a style I prefer? No. I can understand why Madox Ford complained bitterly that although he was Hemingway’s senior and mentor and was responsible for 80plus books and the founding of two noteworthy literary journals that gave debuts to well known writers such as Wyndham Lewis and D.H. Lawrence, he never achieved the recognition he was due. Experimental forms are always going to take place, but to be successful they need to strike a chord with readers. This book unfortunately did not strike any with me. Madox Ford is left praising his own novel in the long dedicatory letter to his wife that prefaces this book, in which he refers to The Good Soldier being “the finest novel in the English language” more than a couple of times in more than a couple of indirect ways. I beg to differ.

  • Victoria Young
    2019-03-13 04:07

    The Good Soldier is an amazing feat of plot construction. This is the best example of how an unreliable narrator (John Dowell) and fragmentary plot can be used to reveal intricacies of character that could never be as effectively expressed through simple description. Not only is this brilliantly done, but I was amazed to realise how early a piece of modernist work The Good Soldier is- published in 1915. It must have created quite a stir when it was published as its main interest is the destructive potential of manipulation and infidelity.It's definitely not a book you should pick up if you're looking for a quick, easy read. The narrator's constant unconscious revisions of plot and characterisation had me flicking back and forth quite a bit and I'll probably need to reread in order to properly digest the complicated tangle of relationships. But the pay off for your hard work is a really thorough examination of the protagonist's psyche and cognitive dissonance. In a paradoxical way, Ford makes his narrative and characteristion wholly unclear in order that Dowell's state of mind be more fully revealed.When I was starting the book, I was quite annoyed because it seemed like the Dowell had given the game away and spoiled the ending by jumping too far forward in time. However- be not disheartened!- there are two rather excellent plot developments unfolded right at the end which are the real source of dramatic tension in the novel and make for a very poignant conclusion.

  • Jesse
    2019-03-15 07:00

    Lots of books (novels and otherwise) attempt to mix the chilling and the blasé for that extra-cold "banality of evil" effect. Among novels, American Psycho comes to mind as a possible least-favorite and The Good Soldier as a certain favorite. It would be too much to call any of these characters "evil" but as you ponder who among the morally vacuous cast is the "worst", you'll discover that your gaze turns inward, which is Ford's real achievement here.

  • Cphe
    2019-03-14 06:47

    I read Parades End last year and really enjoyed it, Rather expected this to be in a similar vein so was a bit taken aback on reading. Strangely enough it's not a war story but is about an American and English couple whose lives entwine over nine seasons in the early 1900's.I didn't mind so much the unreliable narrator Dowell as it happens, but I did have some trouble accepting his naivety towards his wife Florence. A story of unhappy, destructive, obtuse people who are tied to each other by religion, appearance and the society they inhabit. I didn't like the characters on offer here but they were strangely magnetic in their own twisted perverse way.Well written, strangely mesmerising.

  • Oziel Bispo
    2019-03-22 08:51

    Um livro pra se ler devagar, com cuidado... Contado por John Dowell ,relata  as infidelidades em série  de sua esposa Florence e de um casal ,Leonora e Edward Ashburnham , de quem ele é sua esposa tornam-se amigos íntimos. O livro se desenvolve a conta gotas com o narrador ,John Dowell , buscando arrancar qualquer coisa que possa dar lhe pista do que realmente aconteceu.Uma narrativa onde impera a traição, não poderia deixar de ter suas consequências : 2 suicídios é um personagem louco..Um livro difícil de se ler pois a história tem vários vai -e-vens no tempo e se não prestarmos atenção nos perdemos na narrativa . É também um livro muito difícil de se resenhar pois o narrador não sei se é confiável  , para  mim, Ele é apenas um fingidor que faz vistas grossas a tudo. Adorado por uns (eu) e  tido por outros como apenas um livro regular,  foi considerado um dos melhores 100 livros já escritos.

  • James
    2019-03-13 02:42

    Some questions arise when reading The Good Soldier. Is it an impressionistic masterpiece? Is it a tragedy or a comedy? Published in 1915, from the pen of Ford Madox Ford, it is unique enough to have been described by its critics as all of the preceding and more. Subtitled "A Tale of Passion", it is unique both in my experience and within the author's total work. The story is narrated by an American, John Dowell, who invites the reader to sit down with him beside the fire of his study to listen to the "saddest story" he has ever known. Set during the decade preceding the Great War, the story, while appearing to be sad for some of the participants, is truly sad only in the ironic sense of the word. Thus we encounter one of the themes of the book--the distinction between appearance and reality. The characters are not particularly likable or sympathetic. Considering that, it is counter intuitive, but the reader is spurred on to read the novel by the precision and the beauty of the prose and the intrigue within the story. The narrative unfolds in a mosaic-like way with a traversal of the narrator's memory back and forth over the nine year period that is covered. The mosaic is interlaced by motifs including the importance of the date: August 4, and the apparent existence of a heart condition in some of the character's lives. I mentioned the narrator's memory, but one experiences a growing realization that the narrator is inherently unreliable; perhaps John Dowell is the most unreliable narrator in literary history--so much so that I cannot help but think that Ford may have been influenced by Leo Tolstoy's philosophy of history. When complete, the tale is ended perfectly much as it begins. The result is a beautiful small novel that ranks high in this reader's experience. When a book improves with each rereading some call it great or a classic. My personal term is transcendent, as the books for which I have experienced this effect embody transcendence on one or more levels of reading. The Good Soldier is one such book for me.

  • Brian
    2019-03-16 08:10

    Reading Hemingway's A Moveable Feast brought me back to Ford, an author whose most well known piece of fiction has been on my perpetual "to read" list. Hemingway's less than flattering portrayal of Ford was the tipping point, and I finally decided to read this novel while Papa's well depicted portrait of Ford was fresh in my head.After the first 50 pages I was convinced that I had read this story. Tropes tried-and-true seemed to drip from the pages; I found myself sighing and noting frequently how much of the book I had left. But then things changed. And the narrative took a completely different course; characters that were paint-by-number a chapter ago suddenly bloomed in unexpected ways. Ford had me on the rod for the sucker I was, and when he pulled the line, the hook set and the next 150 pages were amazing.But there came a point in the story, and I don't want to even talk about the action of the book for fear of giving away ANYTHING - there came a point where I just wished that the book had ended. Like The Sheltering Sky, I felt that I had experienced the penultimate part of the narrative somewhere way before the ending, and was shocked that there was more to read. The last 1/2 (or so) of the book isn't bad, it's just ... unfortunate additional parts of the character's stories that, while completing their lives, detracted from what I loved about the first half of the book. Had the novel ended at that "Part", and if you read - or have read - this book, you'll know of what I speak, this book would have been 5-stars without a doubt. In any event, I can still recommend it without hesitation and understand more fully why it is considered a literary classic. Despite Hemingway's comments about Ford's halitosis and annoying habits...

  • David
    2019-03-14 09:05

    The evidence that I am a complete Philistine continues to accumulate, as yet another acknowledged classic sails right over my head. I did not like "The Good Soldier", for various reasons. Here are a few:# The plot was an awkward mixture of implausible contrivance and overwrought melodrama, and seemed fundamentally not credible, from start to finish. The basic setup (Serial philanderer Edward cheats on controlling Leonora and cavorts with Florence, the slutty wife of the book's narrator John) was OK - this kind of love quadrangle is hardly unusual. But the way the plot unfolds from the basic premise seemed ludicrous, even allowing for the fact that the account of events is being delivered as the recollections of possibly one of the most unreliable narrators in all of 20th century fiction. The plot was little more than a series of random, largely implausible events, lurching from one improbable crisis to the next. Prussic acid capsules in the vanity case? Suicide by penknife? Telegram-induced catatonia? Give me a break. # The silliness of the plot had a lot to do with the complete lack of depth of the protagonists. You never get the feeling that any of these characters are real people, so their weird antics never seem like anything other than the jerky behavior of cartoonish puppets. Though most puppets have more character than these annoying stick figures. The most annoying of the stick figures being, hands down, the idiot narrator, John Dowell. A man allegedly so stupid that he doesn't notice his wife is cuckolding him with his best friend and herofor 8 years . Or that her "heart condition" is pure invention and that she's healthy as a horse. Who is apparently the only person on the planet unaware that she committed suicide by ingesting prussic acid. There was an enormous sense of relief upon finishing the book, because at least one didn't have to suffer the idiocies of the obtuse narrator any longer. (Dowell wasn't just idiotic; he was also completely without charm, probably a virgin, and likely a closet case)# My final objection to the book was the profusion of passages like this one: And, proud and happy in the thought that Edwardloved her, and that she loved him, she did not even listen to whatLeonora said. It appeared to her that it was Leonora's business to saveher husband's body; she, Nancy, possessed his soul--a precious thingthat she would shield and bear away up in her arms--as if Leonora werea hungry dog, trying to spring up at a lamb that she was carrying. Yes,she felt as if Edward's love were a precious lamb that she were bearingaway from a cruel and predatory beast. For, at that time, Leonoraappeared to her as a cruel and predatory beast. Leonora, Leonora withher hunger, with her cruelty had driven Edward to madness. He must besheltered by his love for her and by her love--her love from a greatdistance and unspoken, enveloping him, surrounding him, upholding him;by her voice speaking from Glasgow, saying that she loved, that sheadored, that she passed no moment without longing, loving, quivering atthe thought of him. Between this book and "Mr Peanut", it's been a bad month for marriage. But at least "Mr Peanut" was interesting. For me, "The Good Soldier" was kind of a snooze.#

  • Ana
    2019-03-17 05:05

    Decepcionante é a palavra. Talvez porque as excelentes referências acerca deste livro, me tenham criado expectativas que acabaram por provocar essa decepção relativamente à sua leitura.O Bom Soldado conta a história de dois casais e mais alguns intervenientes que se relacionam através de uma série de infidelidades conjugais, narrada por um marido enganado. Pelo meio há quem morra, quem se suicide e quem enlouqueça. Os acontecimentos são narrados de uma forma propositadamente desconexa, sem um fio temporal linear e com mudanças frequentes do foco narrativo. Embora não possa dizer que tenha odiado, também não houve nada neste livro de que tenha realmente gostado. A história demasiado rebuscada que se esvazia de interesse e significado, personagens que, cada a um a seu modo, achei tediosos e pouco verosímeis, e uma técnica narrativa que, se pretende prender o leitor, tal não resultou comigo. Tudo o que livro prometia ficou por cumprir - não senti drama nem comicidade, não o senti como "uma história de paixão" (como anuncia o sub-título) nem como "a história mais triste jamais contada" (como afirma a primeira frase). Ficou-me o sabor de uma história implausível e contada de modo atabalhoado que, sobretudo no início, por várias vezes me fez cair no sono. A partir do meio forcei a concentração e a leitura mais rápida para terminar depressa e poder passar a outra coisa.

  • Lostinanovel
    2019-03-02 05:56

    Embarrassed to say that I somehow missed this one. I know it is highly acclaimed and my fellow readers here seem to love it, but i must be missing something. The narrator is frustratingly stupid and naive and the good soldier is simply a bastard. Social constructs doomed the characters but their adherence to society's rules borders on foolishness, particularly when they clearly dont really care for these rules. The point of view aspect is intersting and I wonder if I didnt miss something there. Are there hints that there was more to the story than we were told because we are given the highly biased view of a key player who portrays himself as ignorant and innocent/I did like the a line/idea. the scorned woman tells her husband's mistress not to criticize her catholic beliefs. She is really saying "You had better not be critical of the belief system which prevents me from divorcing my husband and killing you."

  • Emma
    2019-03-13 01:53

    Deeply hated everyone is this book. But a really fast and enjoyable read. If you like mystery, passion, people with blue eyes, and modern classics then give this a go. Also the writing is kind of gorgeous.

  • Mientras Leo
    2019-03-08 04:01

    Me ha gustado mucho, y me gusta saber su título original, proque se le da sentido al final del libroYo tuve muy claro cuál era la historia más triste. Aquella que se vive sin pasioneshttp://entremontonesdelibros.blogspot...

  • Leslie
    2019-03-04 08:08

    I waffled a bit between 3.5 and 4 stars for this classic. While there were things about it that didn't appeal to me (some Catholic bashing for example), it made an impression on me & made me think. Two different but equally dysfunctional marriages are laid bare throughout the course of the book. It is written in an unusual style that I am not sure that I liked but worked well here -- the narrator writes as if the reader knew some fact or event that had not been revealed yet and then later explains it. For example, in the beginning of Part II, he is relating his own history talking about how he and Florence became married. He remarks "she might have bolted with the fellow, before or after she married me." What fellow? who is this person never before even alluded to? The reader begins to have suspicions of who it is and then several pages later it is revealed.As the story progresses, it becomes more and more clear that this is a highly unreliable narrator. And his shifting perspective may be not so much of a shift as a revealing of underlying views formerly hidden (from the reader and perhaps from the narrator's own conscious mind).

  • Bloodorange
    2019-03-20 06:12

    I liked it. Mostly. To be precise, up to two-thirds; after that, the subject matter, the narrator (for it is largely a retrospective, first-person narrative by a middle-aged white male), and the style (increasingly exalted - think schoolgirls, not nobility) began to tire me. I think it was partly because I started to dislike the narrator and his manner of self-presentation; what made the first two-thirds of the book enjoyable for me was waiting for some sign that he is, in fact, unreliable - it was hard for me to accept his cluelessness, which he, in turn, explains by his religion - he repeatedly identifies himself as a "Philadelphia Quaker." Ford's novel represents Catholics as curious, cruel beings; I even checked what his faith was - he was a Catholic convert, and probably The Good Soldier is a fruit of some long discussion on human nature, fidelity and religion he had with himself. Very observant.

  • David
    2019-03-06 01:49

    "The Good Soldier" is a southern European opera masquerading as Fitzgerald's "Tender is the Night". It's that nuts. I have no idea what these people think they are doing. Isn't it supposed to be the twentieth century? Aren't most of them supposed to be English? (America is represented by an effete narrator and his slutty wife.) I was reminded of something Junichiro Tanizaki had someone think in "Some Prefer Nettles":"Surely, he may say to himself, the problem, no matter what strong emotions it stirs up, can be taken care of with less grimacing, less twisting of the lips and contorting of the features, less writhing and straining towards the skies. If in fact it cannot be expressed in less emphatic and dramatic terms, then our Tokyo man is more inclined to turn it off with a joke than try to express it at all."Although there are plenty of laughs, no one in "The Good Soldier" seems to try and "turn it off with a joke". They dash around, threaten each other, sob and kill themselves.John Dowell, our narrator, says: "You may think that I had been singularly lacking in suspiciousness; you may consider me even to have been an imbecile." Yes, exactly. Are we 100% sure he wasn't banging his wife's boyfriends? This would seem to account for a feigned disinterest in her sex life. He says at one point: "If I had the courage and the virility and possibly also the physique of Edward Ashburnham I should, I fancy, have done much what he did. He seems to me like a large elder brother who took me out on several excursions and did many dashing things whilst I just watched him robbing the orchards from a distance." Merely bromance? Frenemies with benefits? Is our unreliable narrator keeping something from us?Regardless, "The Good Soldier" is absolute madness at every turn. Why on earth would Leonora post that letter to Miss Hurlbird? Do we really believe that Florence watched them in the garden for all that time? An officer in the British Army doesn't know how children are conceived? An educated young woman reads three newspaper articles about a divorce case and still has no understanding of the word "divorce"?Sheer madness. "Mental is the Night". But it certainly isn't "The Saddest Story" because a) I spent most of the time laughing, and b) working class people were dying in coal mines just so that these bastards could move their various heart complaints around the railway network of Europe. Absolute shits, the lot of them."Oh, where are all the bright, happy, innocent beings in the world? Where's happiness? One reads of it in books!" declares Leonora ... I don't think Leonora and I are reading the same books. The books I read are about why we should all stab ourselves to death with small penknives."Have you ever seen a retriever dashing in play after a greyhound? You see the two running over a green field, almost side by side, and suddenly the retriever makes a friendly snap at the other. And the greyhound simply isn't there. You haven't observed it quicken its speed or strain a limb; but there it is, just two yards in front of the retriever's muzzle. So it was with Florence and Leonora in matters of culture.""It is a thing, with all its accidents, that must be taken for granted, as, in a novel, or a biography, you must take it for granted that the characters have their meals with some regularity." "and then she wished she had not done it; but it did not teach her anything and it lessened such esteem as she had for him."