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The Good Soldier

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  18,725 Ratings  ·  1,240 Reviews
"A Tale of Passion," as its subtitle declares, The Good Soldier relates the complex social and sexual relationships between two couples, one English, one American, and the growing awareness by the American narrator John Dowell of the intrigues and passions behind their orderly Edwardian facade. It is the attitude of Dowell, his puzzlement, uncertainty, and the seemingly ha ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 2nd 2003 by Broadview Press Inc (first published 1915)
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Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I don't know what anyone has to be proud of.”
― Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier


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 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 absol
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 thou ...more
Steven  Godin
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 Am ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
«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
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ·Karen· by: Teresa
Shelves: favourites, brits
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 hu
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: just about anyone
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 D
Oct 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of the Lost Gen, fans of british literature, those who like character studies
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 ha
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
« 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
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, 501
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
Nov 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 Ed ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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.

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Teresa Proença
Ford Madox Ford
nasceu 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
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 reco
Victoria Young
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 destructi ...more
Oct 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: them, him
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.
Oziel Bispo
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lplib-classics
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 t
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 h
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
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 fi
Sep 26, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me ha gustado mucho, y me gusta saber su título original, proque se le da sentido al final del libro
Yo tuve muy claro cuál era la historia más triste. Aquella que se vive sin pasiones
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ex
Aug 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: edwardian, uk, audiobooks
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 ...more
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: big-white-square
"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 s
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want a good case of cultural whiplash, read The Good Soldier and then the reviews of Michel Houellenbecq's Plateforme (thanks, Hazel). From 20-year-old virgins who don't know where babies come from to sex tourism in less than a hundred years.

Ford's book has been called a perfect novel by some. There are endless (and interesting) debates about the reliability of the narrator. The novel has been described as impressionist literature, and the story is told in kaliadoscopic flashes. One's und
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Ford Madox Ford, born Ford Hermann Hueffer, was an English novelist, poet, critic and editor whose journals, The English Review and The Transatlantic Review, were instrumental in the development of early 20th-century English literature.

Ford Madox Ford was the author of over 60 works: novels, poems, criticism, travel essays, and reminiscences. His work includes The Good Soldier, Parade's End, The R
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“I know nothing - nothing in the world - of the hearts of men. I only know that I am alone - horribly alone.” 63 likes
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