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The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 4 Apr 2002

3.9 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (4 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141181192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141181196
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,907,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Whether you know Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier or not, don't miss this reading by Kerry Shale, who varies his performance brilliantly as the story shifts from platitudes to a rollercoaster ride of intimate revelation. Written on the eve of the First World War and satirising the complacency and immorality of the age, the book is an experimental narrative, moving to and fro in time with explanations inserted as if recounted to a friend. 'This is the saddest story I have ever heard' is the opening line, but within seconds we are wondering how on earth it can be as we hear of the impeccable social credentials of the two couples at its core. Give it a few minutes, and you will be agog, uncertain whether to laugh at its first-person narrator's gullibility or cry at the tragic outcome. Poetically resonant and painterly in its word pictures, the book was regarded by Ford as his best. Don't be misled by the studiously ironic title: the only conflict in the story is that between the sexes. --Christina Hardyment, The Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A brilliant and heart-rending evocation of destructive passion. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a real page-turner with great storytelling and wonderful writing. It's an apparently simple story of a cuckolded husband but Maddox Ford tells and retells the same events from the point of view of each participant so that the reader's understandings and sympathies are constantly shifting as he begins to comprehend the complexities and motivations of those involved. Characters we thought we liked at the start become obnoxious and those we loathed are redeemed. It's clever not only because the ground constantly shifts under the reader's feet but also by the way the story is told - getting one of the characters to explain all the others. This has two effects, first, by avoiding the God narrator it legitimizes the fact that the reader doesn't understand everything at once, and secondly it makes the whole affair much more intimate and personal because these events are happening to the narrator who is our friend.

The story concerns two upper middle class couples who meet at a German spa at the turn of the 19th century and become good friends over many years. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that beneath their simple outings and picnics, sexual and emotional plate tectonics are at work. More and more is slowly revealed of what has been going on and the final pages are tragic and grim.

Much is made in literary circles of the fact that the narrator is unreliable and frequently contradicts himself or is plain wrong. This is a very neat device that covers up the fact that somehow the narrator has gotten to understand what everyone else in the story was thinking or feeling. His unreliability is really chaff to cover up this unlikely situation. Nonetheless it is well done and makes the tone and structure of the book enjoyable and unusual.
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By A Customer on 29 Oct. 1999
Format: Paperback
Ford Madox Ford, although a literary figure often undervalued, must stand alongside the lofty literary statures of giants such as James Joyce and Henry James. Much maligned in life, Ford reflects this in the novel "The Good Soldier" and creates, perhaps, the first modern narrator. Inconsistently and often unreliably, Ford's narrative tells a tale that, although not particularly epic, brings in the reader a sense of sadness and fatalism. "The Good Soldier" often verges towards the Greek Tragedy in that it is a tale of a man destined to pollute all those around him through his infidelity. Written in a time of repressive sexual attitudes, Ford manages to convey a story that, although self-censored, reflects the hidden lives of the real social world; sex, betrayal and adultery. The novel is of great value to anyone currently studying an English Literature course as the narrative style is a groundbreaking one which has influenced the world of literature since. It isn't a great bedside table book yet for anyone interested in the development of the narrative style in English literature it is surely a must.
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Format: Paperback
This deceptively simple, heart-breaking story will change the way you think about novels, writing and the canon of English literature. It is a masterpiece of the first order: simply told by a narrator who frequently doubts his ability to tell his own story it is a study of sadness and loss that is as near to "The Great Gatsby" as anything written in this country. It should not be missed under any circumstances: the reward of reading it is enormous.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ford chose a curious way to tell the story, with Dowell, the infuriating and meandering narrator--but it is the right way to tell the story. One gets the distinct impression that when the events were going on, Dowell remained in blissful ignorance. In modern parlance, he didn't have a clue. Now, in retrospect, when it's too late, he does. As you progress through this short novel, more and more is revealed, the fog clears, and the full tragedy of it becomes apparent. This has been described well as an Edwardian Tragedy--but told in a very 20th century way. "The Good Soldier" is staggeringly good, the work of a master.
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By A Customer on 30 April 1999
Format: Paperback
Terrific book, extremely advanced for its time, though it does show Jamesian influences. It starts out: "This is the saddest story I've ever heard." Quite loosely written, with an ingenuously lazy wit, and it's a very complex story about two couples, ironically narrated by an American man, who is a splendid combination of naive and penetrating psychological insights, who is trying to document and piece together the steps leading to the suicide of Edward, his English friend, who in spite of the fact that he was an excellent fellow he was unable to keep his hands off whatever women came his way, and fall madly in love with the least appropriate damsels. I suspect the English fellow is a self-portrait, for the narrator is very gauche, and innocent, and not at all like Ford.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
'The Good Soldier' is an absolute masterpiece, one of the finest books ever written. There's a profound understanding of human nature conveyed through the first person unreliable narrative of someone whose view of the world is remarkably narrow and lacking in insight, That's a remarkable achievement in itself. The novel really is immensely forward looking for its time. Published precisely 100 years ago in 1915, in many ways it could pass as a later 20th century novel. Only recently has the unreliable narrator become a standard point of view for novelists. The plot also moves backwards and forwards in time (mostly between 1904 and 1913) without ever being confusing, but creating an accurate portrayal of how we all experience the world in a non-linear way.

The key characters are remarkably well created in some depth, and we also get a gradual awareness of the part the narrator in his ignorance has actually played in the unfolding tragedy too. For anyone seriously interested in the development of the novel as a way of understanding human existence this is a must read. For anyone who likes a good, gripping story with energy and a sense of movement making you want to read on, this is also hugely worth reading. The language is very accessible and the book very well structured.Don't miss this masterpiece written by an under-rated novelist.
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