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Re: Narrative Voice-working through (spoiler part 3)



IlanaSimons wrote:Your words here really capture the narrator for me. Dowell has a need to be heard. And it might be because he lives in a social circle where people pretend, and don't see each other authentically.




I think that might be why (after the first half of the book) the psychological ideas popped up (my posts to Everyman).

Imagine honom on a sofa, when he is telling an analyst about his life. I can't judge him because it must have been terrible for him to live so disembodied. He lost himself,therein lies the tragedy; he no longer knows how the shape of him is 'holding together'. After the glue of lies disintegrated he is in bits and indeed he has a break down.

He expresses such a rage against the soldier (the outbursts come out seemingly from no where but with enormous intensity,likea vulcano) but of course teh surface again: he loves him, admires him etc etc. there is afear of course:if he admitted that hatred what would become of him? He would not recognize himself and he's be just someone in need of a reconstruction.

For some reason this seems to be the easiest way into the book for me. It is not really about the others, they are actors on a stage,moreover, the play is also finished. He has to ask himself, what now? And I think there is when we meet him. He is in need of an immense compassion and care, he was never loved, lied to, deceived.....but he unconsciously subscribed to it. At least he decided to tell his story and that is his rescue. he doe no longer keep it down. He might be reborn delivered (I am not yet at the end.....so I have to hold my horses, LOL)

Thanks for throwing me the hooks.

ziki
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Re: labor of reading



ziki wrote:
How is your reading going? I'd say it got better in the middle of the third part (not the book, just my willingness to hear the book) because I see it is definitely not about the plot, it is perhaps not even about the people in it, the characters. I feel like a three years old with those building blocks/playing cubes....Assamble, destroy, reassamble again and destroy. How amazingly comfortable a child is with that process and how tricky it can be for me as a reader.


I'm not quite to the last third yet. I'm still in the stage of reading along but frequently wondering just why I'm keeping reading, why I'm using the limited reading time my present eye condition allows me on this book. It feels like a pillow feels when you're trying unsuccessfully to get to sleep; you keep punching it and shoving this bit in or that bit out trying to get it comfortable so it will finally let you use it for what it's intended for, which is to sleep, but it never finds the shape that allows you to get restful.
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Re: labor of reading



Everyman wrote:

It feels like a pillow feels when you're trying unsuccessfully to get to sleep; you keep punching it and shoving this bit in or that bit out trying to get it comfortable so it will finally let you use it for what it's intended for, which is to sleep, but it never finds the shape that allows you to get restful.




cool analogy--which is why that other quote you posted, about Dowell intending to talk to us like friends beside the fire, was funny. The story's hardly warm and chummy.



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Re: Narrative Voice-working through (spoiler part 3)



ziki wrote:


He is in need of an immense compassion and care, he was never loved, lied to, deceived.....but he unconsciously subscribed to it.



What a beautiful series of posts, Ziki.



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Re: labor of reading



Everyman wrote:


ziki wrote:
How is your reading going? I'd say it got better in the middle of the third part (not the book, just my willingness to hear the book) because I see it is definitely not about the plot, it is perhaps not even about the people in it, the characters. I feel like a three years old with those building blocks/playing cubes....Assamble, destroy, reassamble again and destroy. How amazingly comfortable a child is with that process and how tricky it can be for me as a reader.


I'm not quite to the last third yet. I'm still in the stage of reading along but frequently wondering just why I'm keeping reading, why I'm using the limited reading time my present eye condition allows me on this book. It feels like a pillow feels when you're trying unsuccessfully to get to sleep; you keep punching it and shoving this bit in or that bit out trying to get it comfortable so it will finally let you use it for what it's intended for, which is to sleep, but it never finds the shape that allows you to get restful.




Everyman expresses well how I think you are supposed to feel reading the book, i.e., it is hard to get comfortable. But that is exactly why I keep reading. I want to understand what is going on and especially I need to understand more about Leonora and John. Isn't this like life? We think we know a person but then find out there are significant influences on him/her that we had no idea about. As you get to know someone there story does not come out in chronological order. Rather we pick up bits and pieces along the way. I am just over half way through and I expect that I won't find answers to my questions or have the story tied up neatly.
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Re: labor of reading



PaulK wrote:Everyman expresses well how I think you are supposed to feel reading the book, i.e., it is hard to get comfortable. But that is exactly why I keep reading. I want to understand what is going on and especially I need to understand more about Leonora and John. Isn't this like life? We think we know a person but then find out there are significant influences on him/her that we had no idea about. As you get to know someone there story does not come out in chronological order. Rather we pick up bits and pieces along the way. I am just over half way through and I expect that I won't find answers to my questions or have the story tied up neatly.




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



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Re: Narrative Voice

It is interesting to note that FMF wrote in reference to The Good Soldier, "For personal reasons, I thought about the subject at intervals for ten years before beginning on it. When I did begin I had almost every word of it in my head, and I dictated it very quickly...".

This resonated as I began reading. The stream of consciousness style is without doubt intentional. Even the diversions are intentional and seem to appear at precisely the moment FMF planned.

I find the book an interesting read. I find fascinating the narrator's struggle with the "taking for granted" way of living. His struggle is reflected in his writing - how he vascillates between the proper way the story should be told - the proper way he should feel and express his feelings - and his outbursts of anger, confusion and sadness.
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Re: labor of reading

Punching the book like a pillow to get it comfortable...LOL. I like that, it's funny. I just suspect (reading part four) that the book conveys a very umcomfortable story. One perhaps need to sleep on, too. ;-)

Fortunatelly the story grows on me as the tragedy deepens and some earlier events that made me wonder 'what is this?' (i.e. Dowell's determination to have a good time on the train ride) from later POV just add double weight to his desperate position.

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Re: labor of reading



PaulK wrote:Everyman expresses well how I think you are supposed to feel reading the book, i.e., it is hard to get comfortable. But that is exactly why I keep reading. I want to understand what is going on and especially I need to understand more about Leonora and John. Isn't this like life? We think we know a person but then find out there are significant influences on him/her that we had no idea about. As you get to know someone there story does not come out in chronological order. Rather we pick up bits and pieces along the way. I am just over half way through and I expect that I won't find answers to my questions or have the story tied up neatly.




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 ;-) although I am not sure about the exquisite sentences, they are pretty informative which actually adds to the dread.Second paragraph proved to be true to me, though.

ziki

---------

quote:
The novel is not a page-turner. If you read this novel quickly, you have read it wrongly. The beauty of the book is the exquisite prose, and should be read slowly, savoring each sentence and each sentiment. There is a dreamlike (one could say nightmarish) quality to the book, and one will most enjoy it by allowing oneself to become entranced by the atmospheres summoned up.

If you are willing to take the novel on its own terms, with its unheroic and unadmirable characters, with its pathetic elements and situations, and its subtle psychological observations, then there will be few reading experiences that will match THE GOOD SOLDIER. One of the most remarkable novels of the past century. But if you only like novels where there is a definite hero and admirable characters, you probably wouldn't enjoy this very much.
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posting



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 :-)

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Re: Narrative Voice



SumayyaA wrote:
It is interesting to note that FMF wrote in reference to The Good Soldier, "For personal reasons, I thought about the subject at intervals for ten years before beginning on it. When I did begin I had almost every word of it in my head, and I dictated it very quickly...".

This resonated as I began reading. The stream of consciousness style is without doubt intentional.




Of course it is intentional. It is indeed a story told (not written) and it is interesting that he dictated it (didn't the girl who wrote it down become his lover?)

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Re: Impressions-making of stories

[ Edited ]

PaulK wrote:.... like he is trying to sort things out in his own mind as he tells the story.




That is exactly what we all do when we construct our life-stories...the reality is an incomprehensible chain of impressions, fragments and to make some sense of it you need to arrange them together into some recognizable pattern and rearrange them and tell it over and over again until you start believing it yourself (=come to terms with it). Did you ever notice that people hit by some tragedy or an event hard to grasp will start talking about it, creating their own interpretations?

Dowell finds out many details that he didn't bargained for and he has his hands full to somehow come to terms with it all. The information can be external (someone tells you something) or internal (you acknowledge a feeling).

ziki

PS
(this you can also observe very clearly by listening to children about 4yo, they will start telling many stories about many things and they weave it together in very fantasmagoric ways at times. It is a cognitive function of the brain.)

Message Edited by ziki on 02-11-200708:53 AM

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Re: Impressions



saltydog wrote:
This "rambling" style fits with Ford's being part of the "modernist" movement. I guess it can be considered a form of "stream of consciousness" writing. However it is certainly much more conventional than say Woolf (Mrs. Dallworth) or Ulysses (Dubliners.) I find I just sort of have to "go with it" to get and "feel" what the author is attempting to impart rather than "understanding it."




I guess you meant Mrs Dalloway and James Joyce (Dubliners, Ulysses).

It is given here that you have to move ~~with the book~~.
It needs to be listened to and listening happens on the terms of the narrator not on the terms of the listener. Like if you are listening to a life concert. You can't jump up in the middle of the performance and start telling the orchestra or the conductor what and how to play. You sit and 'take it'. Either you enjoy it or you have a hell of a boring time.

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Re: Impressions



IlanaSimons wrote: a lot of people on the site feel that the voice flows and flows..




I don't. It's more like he is attacking the subject with fork and knife. It is the working of a memory that smoothes it.

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Re: Narrative Voice

[ Edited ]

Everyman wrote:I have been noticing a number of things he says about how other people were thinking or feeling, or what their motives were, that I don't think he could have known. He doesn't say "it seemed to me" or offer other qualifiers that would indicate that he is taking a guess, but he makes clear declarative statements about what they were feeling or thinking as though he actually knew those things.




It is very typical for his psychological disposition. The only way he can make contact with himself is through projections onto others that serve as mirrors for him.

Many people have troubles to own their own opinions. They will say 'WE' when they actually mean I (especaly when presenting something they themselves judge as controversial) and they will hang stuff onto others: for both feelings and thoughts that are their own they will tend to blame others just to feel 'clean'.

Dowell is so estranged and disconnected from himself that he has to interpret his own life through others. Everything is about others, he doesn't yet see his own part in it, or if he sees it he's not ready to acknowledge it fully and own it.

good catch Everyman
ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-11-200709:38 AM

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Reviews of TGS

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 ;-)
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Re: Two Examples of Narrator Confusion (Unreliable) in Part II



Fozzie wrote:
These two examples of Dowell's confusion in his narration struck me:
Both are in Part II, Section I.

1) "But, looking over what I have written, I see that I have misled you when I said that Florence was never out of my sight. Yet that was the impression that I really had until just now."
This interesting to me because I knew when he first stated that Florence was rarely out of his sight, and he didn't know how she could have had an affair, that he had to be wrong. However, he himself didn't know he was mistaken until he had actually told someone else outside of the situation (the readers) about the circumstances. Maybe we will find he corrects other statements.

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.

Moreover, Dowell didn't even allowed himself to be unpolite. So what chance did he have 'with himself'?

Look around in life, you will see this going on everywhere!

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Re: Narrative Voice

[ Edited ]

Areopagitica wrote:
It is Dowell as the unreliable narrator that makes this novel an extraordinary read. The actual plot is only secondary to how the author employs narration that constantly oscillates between varying moments in time. The novel is not written in the stream-of-consciousness style, which is a method that Virginia Woolf and other modernist writers utilized consistently. NOnetheless, Ford is a master at exploring the inner thoughts of the narrator. When we reflect on the past, we don't exactly recall events or specific dialogue in an organized, linear fashion. Furthermore, when we tell a story to a fellow listener, we at times exlude certain information, sometimes intentionally and at other times unconsciously. The same is true of Dowell's story. It is interesting to notice that, despite the numerous interruptions we encounter, the plot is not difficult to follow, and regularly flows smoothly as new details and revelations are made obvious to the reader. This is definitely a book that requires more than one close reading.




Thanks for saying that this is not a stream of consciousness writing. I do not think so either. I do not see Dowell as unreliable. He is as reliable as he can be. What he delivers has to suffice to start with. No one can be more than what s/he is. Claiming anything else would be falling into the same trap as Dowell did. One can read Dowell as an antihero.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-11-200709:56 AM

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pmath


pmath wrote:
I found it anyway!





hahah, I had no doubt you would...
ziki :-)
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Re: Narrative Voice



ziki wrote:

Areopagitica wrote:
It is Dowell as the unreliable narrator that makes this novel an extraordinary read. The actual plot is only secondary to how the author employs narration that constantly oscillates between varying moments in time. The novel is not written in the stream-of-consciousness style, which is a method that Virginia Woolf and other modernist writers utilized consistently. NOnetheless, Ford is a master at exploring the inner thoughts of the narrator. When we reflect on the past, we don't exactly recall events or specific dialogue in an organized, linear fashion. Furthermore, when we tell a story to a fellow listener, we at times exlude certain information, sometimes intentionally and at other times unconsciously. The same is true of Dowell's story. It is interesting to notice that, despite the numerous interruptions we encounter, the plot is not difficult to follow, and regularly flows smoothly as new details and revelations are made obvious to the reader. This is definitely a book that requires more than one close reading.




Thanks for saying that this is not a stream of consciousness writing. I do not think so either. I do not see Dowell as unreliable. He is as reliable as he can be. What he delivers has to suffice to start with. No one can be more than what s/he is. Claiming anything else would be falling into the same trap as Dowell did. One can read Dowell as an antihero.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-11-200709:56 AM






Hmmm. Dowell, to me, seems to be one of the most 'real' narrators I've encountered in fiction. Others, the ones that are called 'reliable' by stuffy lit profs, are little gods with omniscient comprehension of a fake little snowglobe world. Dowell, on the other hand, is a flawed soul giving his take on events, with little sneaky tricks employed en route - in other words, he is human. Thus he seems more real as a narrator than most books. For this reason, the plot falls away in my reading and the narrator emerges as the true 'plot'.

Also, I don't think the plot flows smoothly - it IS easy to follow, but like a Lawrence Durrell or Rashomon or 'hypermovie' (Syriana/21 Grams/Traffic/Magnolia), it is not sequential or linear. It has facets and even changes, and is almost alive itself.

In the end, I almost felt like the narrator and his story were the two characters, and the characters in the story were props/settings, and my engagement as the 'silent listener by the fire' was the actual plot.

Very crafty, FMF, very crafty.
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