Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Good Soldier: A Tale of PassionThe Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion by Ford Madox Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reality is merely one individual's version of the truth.

SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman—what then?
(Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, preface)

153. What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.

(Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil)

Dowel doesn’t accept a world without ‘qualities’, so he describes a man (Edward Ashburnham) who, apparently, has many of them: the good soldier.

Dowell seems not notice even the suicide of his wife: voluntary blindness?

Some years later (1940) Robert Musil describes a man (Ulrich) without qualities; nobody is blind this time, all happens under the sun. The Austro-Hungary’s ideas are in the grave, so many other ideas: honor and stability.

We were, if you will, one of those tall ships with the white sails upon a blue sea, one of those things that seem the proudest and the safest of all the beautiful and safe things that God has permitted the mind of men to frame. Where better could one take refuge? Where better? (13)

Good God, what did they all see in him? for I swear there was all there was of him, inside and out; though they said he was a good soldier. Yet, Leonora adored him with a passion that was like an agony, and hated him with an agony that was as bitter as the sea. How could he arouse anything like a sentiment, in anybody? (31)

The given proposition was, that we were all ‘good people.’ (37)

But what were they? The just? The unjust? God knows? I think that the pair of them were only poor wretches, creeping over this earth in the shadow of an eternal wrath. It is very terrible… (65)

Well, there you have the position, as clear as I can make it - the husband an ignorant fool, the wife a cold sensualist with imbecile fears - for I was such a fool that I should never have known what she was or was not - and the blackmailing lover. And then the other lover came along… (85)

I have come to be very much of a cynic in these matters; I mean that it is impossible to believe in the permanence of man’s or woman’s love. (103)

For, whatever may be said of the relation of the sexes, there is no man who loves a woman that does not desire to come to her for the renewal of his courage, for the cutting asunder of his difficulties. And that will be the mainspring of his desire for her. 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.

So, for a time, if such a passion come to fruition, the man will get what he wants. He will get the moral support, the encouragement, the relief from the sense of loneliness, the assurance of his own worth. But these things pass away; inevitably they pass away as the shadows pass across sundials. It is sad, but it is so. The pages of the book will become familiar; the beautiful corner of the road will have been turned too many times. Well, this is the saddest story. (103-104)

For who in this world can give anyone a character? Who in this world knows anything of any other heart - or of his own? I don’t mean to say that one cannot form an average estimate of the way a person will behave. But one cannot be certain of the way any man will behave in every case - and until one can do that a “character” is of no use to anyone. (140)

Anyhow, I am not responsible for the oddities of the human psychologies. (171)

And suddenly Leonora seemed to have become different and she seemed to have become different in her attitude towards Leonora. It was as if she, in her frail, white, silken kimono, sat beside her fire, but upon a throne. It was as if leonora, in her close dress of black lace, with the gleaming white shoulders and the coiled yellow hair that the girl had always considered the most beautiful thing in the world - it was as if Leonora had become pinched, shrivelled, blue with cold, shivering, suppliant. Yet Leonora was commanding her. It was no good commanding her. She was going on the morrow to her mother who was in Glasgow. (202)

Well, it is all over. Not one of us has got what he really wanted.

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. (209)

that it is a picture without a meaning. (224)

By mirroring moral confusion with narrative confusion, Ford reaches beyond the confines of traditional narration. (sparknotes)

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