The Good Soldier is a story about the complex social and sexual relationships between two couples - one English, one American - and the growing awareness of American narrator John Dowell of the intrigues and passions behind their orderly Edwardian façade. It is Dowell’s attitude - his puzzlement, uncertainty, and the seemingly haphazard manner of his narration - that makes the book so powerful and mysterious. In Ford’s brilliantly woven tale, nothing is quite what it seems.
Despite its catalog of death, insanity, and despair, this novel has many comic moments and has inspired the work of several distinguished writers, including Graham Greene. Originally published in 1915, The Good Soldier is considered by many to be Ford Madox Ford’s masterpiece.
Ford Madox Ford (1873–1939) was a novelist, poet, literary critic, editor, and one of the founding fathers of English Modernism. He published over seventy books in his lifetime, perhaps most famously The Good Soldier. His books often centered on the conflict between traditional British values and those of the modern industrial society.
Public Domain (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“One of the finest novels of our century.” (Graham Greene)
“The Good Soldier, often regarded as his best work, reflects Ford’s ambivalent fascination with the phenomenon of the English gentleman. The conclusion is anticipated in the well-known opening line: ‘This is the saddest story I have ever heard.’” (New York Times)
“This is the most intriguing, shocking, and original book I have ever read… The Good Soldier is the only book I have ever read and wanted to read again immediately.” (Times, London)
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
What? 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 that 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 is 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 is something.
I found this book enormously engaging, because every statement--whether the narrator's or his accounts of what other characters have said--must be weighed for degrees of truth: each person has his or her own self-interests to rationalize and justify. Ralph Cosham's voice perfectly expresses the appropriate nuances of self-doubt, puzzlement, and regret. I liked Cosham's work here so much that I subsequently chose him as my narrator for Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," and noticed that while his voice sounded younger and fuller for HoD, for TGS he seemed more a master of the meaningful pause, making his reading of this devastating story all the more powerful.
What a strange book this is. The whole book delves into the completely dysfunctional lives of two couples, and their relationship with each other. Infidelity seems to be the theme, along with just a boredom of life. It is completely depressing, but at the same time very interesting. The book was written in the early 1900's, with the setting in that same era. Which makes it totally different from any modern day writings, and adds to the interest to me, as I haven't read too many books written in that time frame. It's done, as a narration from the point of view, of one of the main character's. He reminisces stories, trying to explain just what happened to him and the other 3 of the 4. Can be confusing, at times, as he jumps around from story to story. But, in the end it's all understandable, and quite tragic. Definitely different, and I don't know exactly how I feel about the book as a whole.
This is such a brilliantly written story. I not only listened to it but also
downloaded the book because I wanted to savor the language and descriptions of
the story of these characters. The narrator is wonderful!
No, but I will in the future
Just savored every moment of it.
A must to listen to.
I felt no connection with the characters. I would never want to listen to it again, it was of no consequence
His performance was fine - the story was lacking
The story narrator (not the reader) makes explanation for the confusion of the storyline. The author seemed to use that device as an excuse for not being able to write a coherent piece. I'm not sure why I stuck with it so long, except that I had hoped it would redeem itself. Perhaps I should rate the reader's performance more highly. What hope did he have with such a book to work with?
If this is the authors style of writing, I will not try to find another by him. Perhaps others like this dry "story by the fireside" type of novel, but I found it extremely boring, the characters very dry, and the action non-existent...much like an English play.
My next listen will be something with action, drama, character. Maybe a war story!! Anything to revive my listening experience.
I doubt I will listen to him again.
I read other reviews before I purchased this book. Many of them said this was a very good book. Perhaps we just have very different definitions of what is "very good".
The narrator is naive, taking us step by step as he learns the truth about his wife and friends. Along the way he presents a vivid picture of upper class life in Europe before WWI.
I found it a fascinating character study of a class of people with enough money to travel and indulge their vices, yet without ambition or direction. It's also a beautifully written book. It would have been more aptly titled The Sound and the Fury, because it is truly "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The protagonist/first person narrator is clueless, and often states, "I don't know; perhaps you can make sense of it," or phrases to that effect. It's obvious he learned nothing from the experience he relates. Even so, it's worth reading for its precise prose and the fascinating way the author weaves in flashbacks. Written in 1915, in style Ford Madox Ford falls in a direct line between Henry James and Ernest Hemingway. Though more reminiscent of James in both subject matter and style, there are passages that will remind you of Hemingway's character descriptions in The Sun Also Rises. The least rewarding aspect of the story is the failure of the male characters to grow. They are unbelievably dull-witted, which can become tedious with repetition.
Ralph Cosham brings just the right tone of ennui and cluelessness that makes the first person narrator both a charming fool and an annoying idiot.
Couldn't wait until it finished.None of the characters were likeable.
Like he said it was a very sad story. I think the subject was difficult and i didnt like the way the story was told- jumping all over the place.
I think its just that i prefer a female narrator and that the book was difficult for him to do much with.
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