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Discussing the whole book

To avoid spoiling the reading for others (some people might read slowly) I set up this file so that we who read the whole book can speak about it freely. I feel there are details given all the way to the very end that I wouldn't like to mix into the discussion of part 4.

To sum up my impression after finishing the book I'd say: That was the weirdest story!
I became comfortable with the style of the book and I can somehow make sense out af all the characters except Dowell. I wonder was he autistic or what? I am absolutely puzzled by the guy.

Comments?

ziki
jd
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jd
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Re: Discussing the whole book

I read the whole book and thought it was an accounting of a short period of time with outreaching tenacles that explained how 6 people could be the witness to 3 people being dead. Dowell was the only one who could tell the story for he was so removed and yes possibly autistic from all the things going on. L could not account for more than her feelings and Ashburn could not account for much because he was busy in everyone elses bedrooms and silly F. could not think about much besides herself. Overall did you like the book? I am undecided and keep searching the boards to see if there is a message for me that will make the light go on, jd
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did you like the book?



jd wrote:
Overall did you like the book?




I actually liked it inspite the extra bizarre touch. It arrested me and demanded attention if I say so. Once I stopped "craving entertainment" and started to interact with the book on its own terms I found the way to hear. At the end of the second third it was like the book was calling to me: read on. It is a very strange thing to say but it was like Dowell was inprisoned in it. Wanting to be heard. Others were caught up, too, but they were already beyond hope, including Leonora. I doubt her new marriage turned out to be a warm honest affair. She got another husband who was cheating on her, it was just nicely covered up. So neither she or Dowell changed anything in a substantial way.

ziki
(Now Everyman will think I am beyond hope, heheh. But suspend your judgement, EM, I just got Paradise Lost..and it's waiting here (fingers go drum drum drum)... LOL
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Re: Dowell

Check this out, from spark notes on part one):
Dowell explains to the reader why he is writing: he has seen destruction and longs to get the sight out of his head. He compares the relationship of the two couples to a minuet and to a prison of screaming hysterics. He claims that at least two pillars of their four-square house were rotten, and says that he was blind to the damage until it was too late. He feels horribly alone. He does not blame Florence for what has occurred; he does not understand how she was ever out of his sight.

This is actually pretty straightforward, if he's doing that, it is quite healthy/normal.
But he also appeals to the reader as a silent listener. That means you have no mandate to talk back, to suggest, to point out. I wonder if that is significant because any active listener would probably come up with some comments that might prove uncomfortable for Dowell to hear. They'd probably suggest some change.

ziki
playing with this stuff freely
jd
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jd
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Re: Dowell

So if Dowell is the one of only two pillars that are not rotten how does L get the new marriage and children and he gets 0. I am thinking he feels tremendous guilt for only being able to observe the actions of the other three and is also a rotten pillar in the foursome? I also am freely playing with this, like brainstorming and coming to other conclusions.
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Re: did you like the book?



ziki wrote:


jd wrote:
Overall did you like the book?






I finished it a few days ago and have been having difficulty deciding if I liked it - sounds weird but it is true. I liked it up till Part IV - then everything turned to mush! Until then the characters - most of them at least were understandable. Leonora with her Catholic upbringing (saw sex as a necessary evil) and childhood of genteel poverty (wealth and position are more important than morality) seemed to run true to form throughout the first three parts and even into Part IV.

Edward appeared to me a typical nearly upperclass Englishman of the time. He didn't especially value wealth - at least not enough to try to protect his - and he bought into the double standard with respect to marriage and sexual mores typical of the time. So his actions didn't surprise me until Part IV. Why in the world did he commit suicide? And with a pen knife?

Florence was disposed of before part IV. Perhaps she was the Anna Nicole Smith of her day - determined to get what she wanted at all costs and in the end destroyed herself

Nancy I'm not so sure about but it seems to me she had a rather naive schoolgirl crush on Edward. But that doesn't explain her mental breakdown. I get a feeling part of the puzzle is missing - maybe I should read the darn thing again!

Finally, there is John - an enigma. Was he totally sexless? It appears that way - if so why does he end up with Nancy? Was she a sexual partner of sorts in spite of her mental state? He does seem to value wealth and to some extent position but only for its own sake and not for what it enables him to do.

So did I enjoy the book - my first reaction is not really. But then I recall reading Virginia Woolf and finding her difficult going until I read her biography and then began to understand her motivations and techniques. So maybe I need to do the same thing with Ford before tossing TGS in trash bin.

And a final thought - what makes a classic a classic?
Salty Dog
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classic


saltydog wrote:And a final thought - what makes a classic a classic?




I think it is time and ability to engage the reader.
Some very popular books fall into obscurity and some 'obscure' books become popular and read during a long period of time.

So a classic happens to hit some vein of timelessness. What is timeless in Good Soldier?
A lot but mostly pretense. Also deception, determination, despair, loneliness and all that framed in human relationships. Misconceptions of love.

ziki
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Dowell and Nancy

I am in a spell of that last picture when Dowell eats his dinner with the deranged Nancy.

It's like he maintains a hope of love inspite of all odds. But then I wonder if he knows what love is. It seems instead that he got by on some image of love with Florence and now it is even less, just a tiny 'hope of an image'.
Was marriage to have someone aside, no matter who that was, someone to occupy him?

And 'now I can marry the girl', he said when Florence was dead. Like you replace a cup of tea, a magazine. Yet he didn't dare to ask Nancy to marry him, he followed Asburnhams' plan, like an obedient boy. No passion, no sex.

Maybe FMF wants to show what's left for a monogamous man if he doesn't try to escape the reign of one supreme (or sovereign) woman. In which case it is presented as an inescapable dilema: if he doesn't he's like a living dead (Dowell) or trully dead (Edward). Damned if you do and damned if you don't. An alive virile image of strong independent masculinity is amiss here.


Somehow I sense I strike the best deal by not trying to dissect the novel too much. It may need a long time to germinate in the subconscious. I do not want to wrestle with it but I need to pay attention to it, definitely so.

I don't have so much trouble with the form. That the narrrative is not linear doesn't disturb me, on contrary. I guess I was most 'bored' in the part one when it appeared to be linear.

ziki
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IlanaSimons
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Re: did you like the book?



saltydog wrote:
But then I recall reading Virginia Woolf and finding her difficult going until I read her biography and then began to understand her motivations and techniques.




Cool. We're scheduling Woolf's To The Lighthouse for April, so I really hope you tune in for that one.
Ilana



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


jd
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Re: did you like the book?

I think your take on E is best, and I also believe he is the true villian in this story or at least his morality is. His suicide is a result of realizing all the horrible things he has done and the far-reaching consequences. p.s. - classics are such because they have a lasting significance or worth, see- American Heritage Dict. Maybe I try to make all this have a sense to it that is honestly does not have.
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woolf



IlanaSimons wrote: We're scheduling Woolf's To The Lighthouse for April




Great!
ziki
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Re: woolf



ziki wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote: We're scheduling Woolf's To The Lighthouse for April




Great!
ziki




double great!



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Re: woolf

Oh my ziki - another Virginia Woolf - you know what that means - midnight sperm oil:smileysurprised::smileysurprised::smileysurprised:




ziki wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote: We're scheduling Woolf's To The Lighthouse for April




Great!
ziki


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Re: woolf



Choisya wrote:
Oh my ziki - another Virginia Woolf - you know what that means - midnight sperm oil:smileysurprised::smileysurprised::smileysurprised:




ziki wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote: We're scheduling Woolf's To The Lighthouse for April




Great!
ziki







my goodness, please fill me in on that reference.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Re: woolf



IlanaSimons wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Oh my ziki - another Virginia Woolf - you know what that means - midnight sperm oil:smileysurprised::smileysurprised::smileysurprised:




ziki wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote: We're scheduling Woolf's To The Lighthouse for April




Great!
ziki







my goodness, please fill me in on that reference.




ok wait let me guess: a moby dick insider joke?



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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woolf +FMF

[ Edited ]
ziki: Great!
Ilana: double great!
---------

hehheh.
-------------
Ilana: Once on BNU Choisya witnessed my unforgetable struggle with Woolf's first book Night and Day. That was a beginning of my present woolf adventures (I still didn't make it to Hours).

So far I started to read Voyage Out twice, and last time well on my way I decided to change company, I jumped the ship shortly after it left London and shiped on Pequod instead. Now I bought the BN VO book just for the picture on the cover...so I am on the passenger list again.

Maybe I start playing on the beach instead.

I just came to think of it, Night and Day is also a story of four (publ 1919). Was Woolf somehow influenced by FMF? Her female characters make attempts to break out of the social frame.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Woolf.
http://www.online-literature.com/virginia_woolf/

http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=3287
ziki
reading's fun
especially when there are others
who think the same :-)

Message Edited by ziki on 02-17-200709:44 AM

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Choisya
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Re: woolf +FMF

I didn't just witness the long struggle Ilana - although I had finished reading the book, I participated in it Night and Day, and got to know and love Ziki's quirky style and viewpoints quite well:smileyvery-happy:




ziki wrote:
ziki: Great!
Ilana: double great!
---------

hehheh.
-------------
Ilana: Once on BNU Choisya witnessed my unforgetable struggle with Woolf's first book Night and Day. That was a beginning of my present woolf adventures (I still didn't make it to Hours).

So far I started to read Voyage Out twice, and last time well on my way I decided to change company, I jumped the ship shortly after it left London and shiped on Pequod instead. Now I bought the BN VO book just for the picture on the cover...so I am on the passenger list again.

Maybe I start playing on the beach instead.

I just came to think of it, Night and Day is also a story of four (publ 1919). Was Woolf somehow influenced by FMF? Her female characters make attempts to break out of the social frame.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Woolf.
http://www.online-literature.com/virginia_woolf/

http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=3287
ziki
reading's fun
especially when there are others
who think the same :-)

Message Edited by ziki on 02-17-200709:44 AM




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Re: woolf +FMF

Woolf wrote some of the best books, and some of the worst books, around. I think she's very uneven--invented a really new voice, so pushed herself to a spot where things flopped if they didn't work. I really think To The Lighthouse is the world's greatest novel. But I can also understand just dropping The Voyage Out (tho I do like The Voyage Out even more than some of her others....).
So, I do hope you join for To The Lighthouse. I also like the image of you playing on the beach while others try to be serious.

About FMF: Woolf herself didn't have much to do with Ford, but her half-brother, Gerald, who published Woolf's first book (The Voyage Out) published many of Ford's books. George founded Duckworth Publishers in 1898.


br>

Choisya wrote:
I didn't just witness the long struggle Ilana - although I had finished reading the book, I participated in it Night and Day, and got to know and love Ziki's quirky style and viewpoints quite well:smileyvery-happy:




ziki wrote:
ziki: Great!
Ilana: double great!
---------

hehheh.
-------------
Ilana: Once on BNU Choisya witnessed my unforgetable struggle with Woolf's first book Night and Day. That was a beginning of my present woolf adventures (I still didn't make it to Hours).

So far I started to read Voyage Out twice, and last time well on my way I decided to change company, I jumped the ship shortly after it left London and shiped on Pequod instead. Now I bought the BN VO book just for the picture on the cover...so I am on the passenger list again.

Maybe I start playing on the beach instead.

I just came to think of it, Night and Day is also a story of four (publ 1919). Was Woolf somehow influenced by FMF? Her female characters make attempts to break out of the social frame.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Woolf.
http://www.online-literature.com/virginia_woolf/

http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=3287
ziki
reading's fun
especially when there are others
who think the same :-)

Message Edited by ziki on 02-17-200709:44 AM










Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Dowell and Florence

In Jacob's room V.Woolf tries to reconstruct the memory of a person through fragments in other people's minds, impressions, memories. Please correct me if that is wrong. In this book it seems like Dowell tries to reconstruct, reinvent himself through telling us his story (fragments in his own mind) and return to life....which doesn't look very hopeful at the moment we readers meet him. Also he judges the story as the saddest one, as if he were not involved in it.

But in any relationship all parts of us are involved. He had some reason to marry. Was it a class thing? Was it something you just do, get married? Wasn't it a little impulsive in his case? Then tricked by Florence (her faked sickness) he is assigned a secondary role in his own life thinking "all of Florence" depends on him. He plays it dutifully, acceptinga total responsibility for Florence's life thus missing himself totally. The metaphor is a weak heart. Inability to love?

The whole story seems to be a parody of that time.

In Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises we meet a character Robert Cohn that at least realizes that life is running away from him. He wants to travel to South America when he sees that, to do something he always wanted to do. Not so Dowell. He doesn't want to go to India but is so forced. Does he want the tradition of England? The poise that English could maintain? He has the money so his will is not restricted financially. But he didn't find a passion, a purpose in his life.

He acquired Edward's house, something that Florence wanted, he has a girl that Edward wanted, a shadow of herself that is...but of course he doesn't have any more substance.

How does a person end up so totally depersonalized?

ziki
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Artemis
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Re: Dowell and Florence

I think you hit on one of the most important points of the book: So much of what drives Dowell is his obsession with Edward. He is infatuated with Edward, and strives to become him. He refuses to acknowledge Edward's moral ambiguity, and defends him on the grounds of sentimentality. And in the end, Dowell is living in England, and he has both Edward's home and the woman that Edward loved.
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