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Re: Narrative Voice-doppelganger

[ Edited ]
from wikipedia:
The Good Soldier is a 1915 novel by English novelist and editor Ford Madox Ford. It is set just before World War I and chronicles the tragedies of the lives of two seemingly perfect couples. The novel is told using a series of flashbacks in non-chronological order, a literary technique pioneered by Ford. The novel was loosely based on two incidents of adultery and on Ford's messy personal life.


I see it like this given the situation in FMF's own life, check out the cocktail:

FMF modeled the story on himself and he sees himself as the good soldier and also looking at himself from the distant POV of Dowell. Both parts being himself. The distant observer is loving the soldier and at the same time the sexual part is quite disconnected and doesn't know what to do with himself, it's not enough to provide for real needs of women (perhaps he feels castrated by them-some Leonora in his own life, could be his first wife, she was a Catholic, no?).

(Try to look away from too much of the Freud's stuff here, take it in more social/psychological frame.)

There is some issue with acceptance of his impotence (lack of power) and sexuality and also there seems to be a missing integrated solid male power/purpose. Characters in the book have money so they do not need to get themselves involved in labor, they have the luxury and a curse to be busy with themselves.

sooo... wild idea here:

What if Edward and Dowell are one and the same character among all these 'confusing' women? He can't really satisfy women, he doesn't really understand what they need. He offers some surface flirt and tickle, he needs them but he cannot find his solid maleness that he could rely on and that could sustain a real healthy relationship?

He is torn between tradition (England) and new attitudes (USA) but he can't really get it together. If he gives up the sexual connection he feels there's nothing left of him.

He can't mend this multifaceted split inside himself and perhaps at the end he murders (supresses) the part that seeks contacts even if only time limited sexual liasons because that is the one part which is more difficult to control and align with the good part and good reputation? The safe dead, alone character devoid of all life is what is left when/if he gives up his sexuality.

There are thoughts of polygamy in the text and what if FMF just wanted to be a pasha with his own harem but couldn't get away with that in the society of his time?

I would like to think I nailed him.... LOL.

But in any case it provides me with more interesting 'poly-angle logic' to think about the book (FMF IRL nonwithstanding).

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-11-200705:48 PM

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Everyman
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Re: labor of reading



ziki wrote:
Fortunately the story grows on me

I'm glad to hear that. I'm close to giving it up. At this point, about 2/3 of the way though the story, I really don't care what happens to any of these people.
_______________
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Everyman
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Re: Impressions



ziki wrote:
It's more like he is attacking the subject with fork and knife.


I like that image. And to go beyond it, he's gotten a smörgåsbord on his table and is seemingly randomly attacking totally unrelated items of food, hacking off a bit of this one but not finishing chewing it before he hacks off a totally different piece and starts chewing it then goes back to chew the first one some more, meanwhile attacking another one....
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Everyman
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the role of narrator

Ford writes, in II.I, "But the fellow [Edward Ashburnham] talked like a cheap novelist. -- Or like a very good novelist for the matter of that, if it's the business of a novelist to make you see things clearly."

If this is indeed the business of a novelist, is Ford a good novelist?
_______________
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Re: Impressions



Everyman wrote:


ziki wrote:
It's more like he is attacking the subject with fork and knife.


I like that image. And to go beyond it, he's gotten a smörgåsbord on his table and is seemingly randomly attacking totally unrelated items of food, hacking off a bit of this one but not finishing chewing it before he hacks off a totally different piece and starts chewing it then goes back to chew the first one some more, meanwhile attacking another one....




ROFL....
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Re: the role of narrator



Everyman wrote:
Ford writes, in II.I, "But the fellow [Edward Ashburnham] talked like a cheap novelist. -- Or like a very good novelist for the matter of that, if it's the business of a novelist to make you see things clearly."

If this is indeed the business of a novelist, is Ford a good novelist?




That was a weird line. I stopped twice and said: hey wait a minute, whadaya mean? It still doesn't make much sense to me.

BTW- now I think it might be more a Cubist novel than impressionist one.

ziki
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Fozzie
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Re: Two Examples of Narrator Confusion (Unreliable) in Part II


ziki wrote:


Fozzie wrote:
2)"Have I conveyed to you the splendid fellow that [Edward] was --- the fine soldier, the excellent landlord, the extraordinarily kind, careful and industrious magistrate, the upright, honest, fair-dealing, fair-thinking, public character?"
I became annoyed when I read this question. He has time and time again stated what a good person Edward was. He must be repeating this for some reason. Maybe he will realize that Edward had a bad side to him and was not all good.




But of course Laura. One needs to take a close look at how the human psyche works...it doesn't want to remember uncomfortable things, it wants to paint everything so that it is acceptable and it wants to assure itself that life is exactly as it sees it.
The key in is your own irritation. Why exactly would you be upset if you would understand his position? What is your own trigger? That is the right door.





I was annoyed because I heard him the first time, and the second time. I understand what you are saying, but understanding his motivations doesn't make me any less annoyed with him constantly repeating himself. If he would describe Edward again, changing something, modifying something, adding something new, I wouldn't mind.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
jd
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jd
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Re: the role of narrator

I feel the role of a novelist is to write fiction that transports us to another plane and thus we must be able to see that plane and move into it without it being an out-of-body experience, so yes - making us see clearly the point of view of the narrorator so that we can be transported to the scene as described and form an opinion of what is transpiring is the role of a narrator. I am not certain about Dowel being the best narrator because he pretends to be so unobservant and surprised by what he sees, jd
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: Reviews of TGS - sources


pmath wrote:
I found it anyway! Reading customer reviews of TGS is a good idea, Ziki, as an extension of our discussion here.


ziki wrote:
I found an excerpt from a review that sums it up quite nicely (and no I will not tell you pmath from where I took it, heheh ;-)




Seriously, Ziki, I really do think it is unfair to the writer not to give your sources. If I were a writer I would feel cheated. That's my humble opinion...
By the way, this is a very good review and thanks for sharing it with us.
Danielle
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PaulK
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Re: posting



ziki wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote to Paul:I'm glad you're entering into the conversation. I look forward to more of your insights here
Ilana




Me, too. Paul's reading Moby Dick and he didn't post anything, would you believe it?
He let's us do the hard work :-)

ziki




Sorry Ziki but I just got too behind in Moby Dick. I will try to do better here.
I will say that this book confused and frustrated me through parts one and two but I just finished part three and I like the book more and more. Someone posted a review that said this book cannot be read fast. I certainly agree with that. A lot of information will be coming at you as you proceed.
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Re: labor of reading



Everyman wrote: I'm close to giving it up. At this point, about 2/3 of the way though the story, I really don't care what happens to any of these people.



No there isn't any character development in that way. It really goes down the drain and it is more about understanding of possible salvation and repair of Dowell. Leonora as usually provides for herself.

Technically it is different but there are many slight inconsistencies in time toward the end. There is a discussion whether that is FMF's fault (sometimes he didn't want to bother with facts, which is surprizing given he wrote historical novels) or if it was Dowell's making. It doesn't really matter so much, methinks.

I would like to know about related reading, and if anybody else took this technique up and wrote in that manner or if this is the only example. I sat up a thread here but I am not getting any answers from BN, bad luck. I think I PMed a wrong Bill.

ziki
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Re: labor of reading



ziki wrote:


Everyman wrote: I'm close to giving it up. At this point, about 2/3 of the way though the story, I really don't care what happens to any of these people.



No there isn't any character development in that way. It really goes down the drain and it is more about understanding of possible salvation and repair of Dowell. Leonora as usually provides for herself.

Technically it is different but there are many slight inconsistencies in time toward the end. There is a discussion whether that is FMF's fault (sometimes he didn't want to bother with facts, which is surprizing given he wrote historical novels) or if it was Dowell's making. It doesn't really matter so much, methinks.

I would like to know about related reading, and if anybody else took this technique up and wrote in that manner or if this is the only example. I sat up a thread here but I am not getting any answers from BN, bad luck. I think I PMed a wrong Bill.

ziki




I don't really have the inclination to do it myself but i do think it would be very interesting to outlined the chapters and then reconstruct in chronological order to see what the inconsistencies are. If there are many which I think possible they are certainly of FMF's design. How reliable Dowell is as a narrator is questionable.
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danielle

Danielle, just don't push it, OK?
I think you also ought to read what 'displaced human from a tilting planet' said. Hopefully that quitens your sense of me being unfair.
I drag in things that I judge relevant for our discussion here. I am not exactly writing a thesis here.

That I tease pmath for her incessant linking and her sleuth skills is another matter. ;-)

regards,
ziki
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way to read

I just meant to say that approach usually proves the most rewarding one when I read a book that in some way is provokative to me. At the end I might still not like it, but I'll be a bit more clear about why which is often a gain.
ziki :-)
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mistakes in chronology

I was reading the Oxford edition this time and there's a whole page in the introduction that outlines these mistakes in chronology. It's too long for me to type it in here but Thomas C. Moser who wrote the notes said that in his opinion the mistakes are Ford's. He said critics wrestled with the problem.

ziki
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verso
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Re: Narrative Voice



IlanaSimons wrote:
Narrative Voice

We’re flooded with the narrator John Dowell’s voice in this book. We see everything through his eyes and words.
What’s his voice’s effect on you? Does his voice feel earnest, passionate, moralistic…or something else?

Would you say we’re viewing this story from far away or close up?
Ford said that both he and the novelist Joseph Conrad agreed that “life does not narrate, but makes impressions on our brains…. If we wished to produce...an effect of life [we] must not narrate but render…impressions” (Good Soldier, xv-xvi).

Tell us something about the book's narrator.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-02-200712:20 PM




I envision John Dowell as a man who has his own agenda. He tells the story exactly how he sees it. Sometimes he takes the story in his own hands by going on his own adventures and then returns to continue telling us about the rest of the story. He masterfully synchronizes his asides with the rest of the story without too many distractions.
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Dowell's agenda



verso wrote:I envision John Dowell as a man who has his own agenda. He tells the story exactly how he sees it. .




Hi verso,
welcome.

What would you say his agenda is?

ziki
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