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IlanaSimons
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Part Four: Discuss The Ending of the Book

This is a place for discussing the last part of the book.



Ilana
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Humor in TGS

Continuing our discussion on the British Classics board...

I just finished reading TGS: the humor reminded me of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.


IlanaSimons wrote (here):
hmmm... I don't feel the funny in The Good Soldier either. I'd love to hear from someone who does.

pmath wrote:
Ilana, I'm really looking forward to this discussion, since I've heard so much about TGS: I understand it's funny, though I can't imagine how, from what I know about the plot!

IlanaSimons wrote:
p.s.: my next Classic Book discussion will be Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier, starting in February.
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Re: Humor in TGS



pmath wrote:
Continuing our discussion on the British Classics board...

I just finished reading TGS: the humor reminded me of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.




Wow. Coincidentally, I just finished a read of Wuthering Heights. So: go on...
Are you saying that they both almost gloat as they parade the dark side of personality...?



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Poetic Justice (Possible Spoiler for WUTHERING HEIGHTS)

Do you mean Emily Brontë and FMF? It seems each author is for poetic justice, and considers the death of a weak character (who is weak in character) a good riddance instead of something to mourn.


IlanaSimons wrote:
Wow. Coincidentally, I just finished a read of Wuthering Heights. So: go on...
Are you saying that they both almost gloat as they parade the dark side of personality...?

pmath wrote:
I just finished reading TGS: the humor reminded me of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.
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Re: Humor in TGS


pmath wrote:
I just finished reading TGS: the humor reminded me of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.


Is that to say, using mathematical terms, that a null set reminds you of a null set? :smileyhappy:
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Re: Humor in TGS

[ Edited ]

Everyman wrote:

pmath wrote:
I just finished reading TGS: the humor reminded me of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.


Is that to say, using mathematical terms, that a null set reminds you of a null set? :smileyhappy:




ow! can we say overrated sets but not null?
I'm sorry I forgot to come back to this thread. I wasn't sure what you meant, pmath, about the humor connection between these two books.
For me, Wuthering Heights is crazy-weird, an outburst of imagination, kind of like Frankenstein's monster, raw and exciting and immoral but-real-things-are-not-consistently-moral.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-09-200709:52 AM




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Absurdity

[ Edited ]
I think the behavior of some of the characters in both WH and TGS is simply absurd, and I imagine the authors thought so, too!


IlanaSimons wrote:
For me, Wuthering Heights is crazy-weird, an outburst of imagination, kind of like Frankenstein's monster, raw and exciting and immoral but-real-things-are-not-consistently-moral.

Message Edited by pmath on 02-09-200712:58 PM

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Re: Absurdity

At least we can put WH into the Victorian Melodrama genre but we can't do that with TGS. Is it just the writing that is 'absurd' though because the actions of the characters are really very mundane and reflect what happens and is happening in many close knit communities. The story is reminiscent of the stories from the British Raj, for instance.




pmath wrote:
I think the behavior of some of the characters in both WH and TGS is simply absurd, and I imagine the authors thought so, too!


IlanaSimons wrote:
For me, Wuthering Heights is crazy-weird, an outburst of imagination, kind of like Frankenstein's monster, raw and exciting and immoral but-real-things-are-not-consistently-moral.

Message Edited by pmath on 02-09-200712:58 PM




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Re: Absurdity

I didn't even feel that the writing was absurd, either. It really did feel like how many people talk to me when they relate their personal lives. Things are so interconnected that they (and probably, me as well, when I'm the one explaining) loop back in on themselves. Souls tell me half-stories, then recant something, then catch themselves in a lie and change what they said, then contradict themselves and laugh and throw out a homily to say 'that's life' and continue as if nothing has happened. Were this were to happen in a court of law or in a parliament/congress testimony, there would be rioting. But we accept it in the everday. It's how we think and live. FMF was, I guess, the first writer to allow the narrator to be a human, rather than a mini-God with omniscient storytelling capabilities. Other novels are quaint and fun, but exist in their own snowglobes. This one breathes and leeches into you because it sounds like someone trying to explain their life to you.

I guess, Choisya, if you were willing to concede that life itself in general is absurd - or better, that how we define and explain and retell life is absurd, then I would agree with you that the storytelling is absurd, the writing is absurd. Otherwise, I think the nifty clean little worlds created in other novels are absurd, precisely because they are so tidy and unreal.



Choisya wrote:
At least we can put WH into the Victorian Melodrama genre but we can't do that with TGS. Is it just the writing that is 'absurd' though because the actions of the characters are really very mundane and reflect what happens and is happening in many close knit communities. The story is reminiscent of the stories from the British Raj, for instance.




pmath wrote:
I think the behavior of some of the characters in both WH and TGS is simply absurd, and I imagine the authors thought so, too!


IlanaSimons wrote:
For me, Wuthering Heights is crazy-weird, an outburst of imagination, kind of like Frankenstein's monster, raw and exciting and immoral but-real-things-are-not-consistently-moral.

Message Edited by pmath on 02-09-200712:58 PM







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Re: Absurdity

I guess, Choisya, if you were willing to concede that life itself in general is absurd - or better, that how we define and explain and retell life is absurd, then I would agree with you that the storytelling is absurd, the writing is absurd. Otherwise, I think the nifty clean little worlds created in other novels are absurd, precisely because they are so tidy and unreal.


I do so concede:smileyvery-happy:




cosmotrotter wrote:
I didn't even feel that the writing was absurd, either. It really did feel like how many people talk to me when they relate their personal lives. Things are so interconnected that they (and probably, me as well, when I'm the one explaining) loop back in on themselves. Souls tell me half-stories, then recant something, then catch themselves in a lie and change what they said, then contradict themselves and laugh and throw out a homily to say 'that's life' and continue as if nothing has happened. Were this were to happen in a court of law or in a parliament/congress testimony, there would be rioting. But we accept it in the everday. It's how we think and live. FMF was, I guess, the first writer to allow the narrator to be a human, rather than a mini-God with omniscient storytelling capabilities. Other novels are quaint and fun, but exist in their own snowglobes. This one breathes and leeches into you because it sounds like someone trying to explain their life to you.

I guess, Choisya, if you were willing to concede that life itself in general is absurd - or better, that how we define and explain and retell life is absurd, then I would agree with you that the storytelling is absurd, the writing is absurd. Otherwise, I think the nifty clean little worlds created in other novels are absurd, precisely because they are so tidy and unreal.



Choisya wrote:
At least we can put WH into the Victorian Melodrama genre but we can't do that with TGS. Is it just the writing that is 'absurd' though because the actions of the characters are really very mundane and reflect what happens and is happening in many close knit communities. The story is reminiscent of the stories from the British Raj, for instance.




pmath wrote:
I think the behavior of some of the characters in both WH and TGS is simply absurd, and I imagine the authors thought so, too!


IlanaSimons wrote:
For me, Wuthering Heights is crazy-weird, an outburst of imagination, kind of like Frankenstein's monster, raw and exciting and immoral but-real-things-are-not-consistently-moral.

Message Edited by pmath on 02-09-200712:58 PM










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Re: Part Four: Discuss The Ending of the Book



IlanaSimons wrote:
This is a place for discussing the last part of the book.




I finished but am still trying to come to some conclusions. The character I thought comes off the worst is John. I know the least about him. While the others had pretty obvious flaws they at least had a passion for something. I don't see anything at all in John. He claims to be in love with Nancy but I did not see how that developed. He continued to admire Edward which is very strange to me. Why? I think John is the weakest of the bunch and seemed to have a pretty empty life.
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admire Edward



PaulK wrote: He continued to admire Edward which is very strange to me. Why?



I think that edward attempted to live his life however wingclipped he was but John didn't manage even that.As he says:I was a nurse...and he wanted to be something else but a caretaker.
The book has a lot ot do with discussion about gender and roles and the interactions between men and women.
Still very up to date topic even if it is framed a bit differently today.

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Re: admire Edward



ziki wrote:


PaulK wrote: He continued to admire Edward which is very strange to me. Why?




Edward acted; Dowell reacts. Hence nursing. Perhaps he remained ultimately envious of the grand gestures Edward made in life, striding through sets and directing the other players, assisting the underdogs, etc. etc.?
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Re: admire Edward



cosmotrotter wrote:


ziki wrote:


PaulK wrote: He continued to admire Edward which is very strange to me. Why?




Edward acted; Dowell reacts. Hence nursing. Perhaps he remained ultimately envious of the grand gestures Edward made in life, striding through sets and directing the other players, assisting the underdogs, etc. etc.?





Good point. Though I also feel there's a shift in his portrayal of Edward, because though he says Edward's the most noble sort in the beginning, the attitude doesn't seem last. Losing his money and sleeping with anyone for affection, Edward ends up looking pretty pathetic, even through Dowell's description, doesn't he? Maybe Dowell admires/envies? Leonora more consistently.



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Re: admire Edward

Doesn't Dowell express his admiration as tongue in cheek? Outwardly Edward is such a public person who does everything right, but behind closed doors he is not a very good person and has almost no depth.
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Re: admire Edward

I think Dowell's admiration for Edward is sincere. Especially because so much of his life is focused on becoming more like Edward and getting the things he has (including his house). Dowell refuses to see Edward's dark side, but rather emphasizes his sentimentality and romanticism, excusing his faults in their name.
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Re: admire Edward

I have gone over again the ending with Dowell knowing he is leaving E to kill himself. Dowell must observe one final incongruous act by E who has to complete his self-destruction, although in the book Dowell reminds the reader that he has forgotten to tell us about E's death. I wonder why this all important act is forgotten for any amount of time? This story reminds me of musical chairs, each go around leaves one less person until there is only Dowell standing to recount the events. So the good soldier (Dowell) does his superior's bidding and leaves him alone to kill himself and then moves into his life and house. I am brainstorming on this and feel that something will bubble to the surface at some point, any comments?
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Re: admire Edward



jd wrote:
I have gone over again the ending with Dowell knowing he is leaving E to kill himself. Dowell must observe one final incongruous act by E who has to complete his self-destruction, although in the book Dowell reminds the reader that he has forgotten to tell us about E's death. I wonder why this all important act is forgotten for any amount of time? This story reminds me of musical chairs, each go around leaves one less person until there is only Dowell standing to recount the events. So the good soldier (Dowell) does his superior's bidding and leaves him alone to kill himself and then moves into his life and house. I am brainstorming on this and feel that something will bubble to the surface at some point, any comments?




It seems to me this is he weakest part of the story. It almost seems as though Maddox told us this was going to happen in part I and then realized he still needed to tell us how it happened. And with a pen knife! I guess I don't see that it was important to the story. He could have disposed of Edward in other ways - had him run away with another paramour for instance. I too have been thinking about this, brainstorming as you say, but haven't had any enlightment yet - doubt if I will.
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Re: admire Edward

It was my impression that Dowell is/was speaking ironically and cynically/bitterly throughout the entire novel. Therefore, when he speaks of 'admiration' of Edward, it is with hindsight - as in, yes, I once was naive enough to admire him and yes, I still uphold those ideals, though I have learned that they are empty, as is much of human pursuit, and I now scoff at the earnest endeavors of all of us.

The fact that we, as readers, are let into the story in stages and through various viewpoints allows us to traverse some of Dowell's own journey from ignorance to ignorant resignation (he repeats something like 'It's all darkness').

The novel was short enough, however, that his sarcasm and bitterness seemed pretty apparent early on and was easy enough to interpolate back into the early pages later on. That, through all of this, the novel remained funny for me was a testament to FMF's abilities as a writer.

Just my take.



IlanaSimons wrote:


cosmotrotter wrote:


ziki wrote:


PaulK wrote: He continued to admire Edward which is very strange to me. Why?




Edward acted; Dowell reacts. Hence nursing. Perhaps he remained ultimately envious of the grand gestures Edward made in life, striding through sets and directing the other players, assisting the underdogs, etc. etc.?





Good point. Though I also feel there's a shift in his portrayal of Edward, because though he says Edward's the most noble sort in the beginning, the attitude doesn't seem last. Losing his money and sleeping with anyone for affection, Edward ends up looking pretty pathetic, even through Dowell's description, doesn't he? Maybe Dowell admires/envies? Leonora more consistently.


jd
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Re: admire Edward

I agree the pen knife would be a hard thing to kill oneself with. Lots of opportunity to rethink how badly you wanted to die, or perhaps lots of opportunity to suffer. I understand Nancy's madness, I felt much the same after being tossed from one time frame to the next; back and forth and side ways :smileyhappy: jd
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