The Good Soldier
By Ford Madox Ford
Why this book?
In his tragicomic novel The Good Soldier, Ford Madox Ford’s thickheaded narrator John Dowell trolls, over and over again, through the detritus of his life, searching vainly for the origins of his predicament—namely, that he has been duped by his wife and her lover, his supposedly best friend and the “good soldier” of the novel’s title. When Dowell finally succumbs to the utter hopelessness of his situation, he turns away from his audience in a brash attempt to bargain with a misbegotten universe, and his dreams of an impossible reconciliation with the world become our own: “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?” In his greatest moment of anguish and uncertainty, Dowell grasps for the poetry of language to sate his weary soul.
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