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Part 1: Ford Madox Ford's THE GOOD SOLDIER (Part IV, Section II)

[ Edited ]
Yes: great post, Leo! It reminded me of this passage in Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier:

...to me, living in the house, enveloped with the charm of the quiet and ordered living, with the silent, skilled servants whose mere laying out of my dress clothes was like a caress--to me who was hourly with them they appeared like tender, ordered and devoted people, smiling, absenting themselves at the proper intervals; driving me to meets--just good people!

IlanaSimons wrote:
Neat observation: You're saying that the exterior picture of these people shows community, and their interiors show discord.

CallMeLeo wrote:
...if we take away all the inner dialogue that is so disconcerting, we might be left with a picture of a group (a community) of mostly creative individuals, made up of adults and children, enjoying their vacation, getting along just fine, doing their own thing, sometimes alone, sometimes pairing off. It's in their thoughts that they are truly isolated, alone, apart from everyone; and it's the access we have to these thoughts that cause the dissonance in the community, and therefore, in our own minds and make us, the reader, get the impression the group has no sense of community when in reality they do.

Message Edited by pmath on 04-09-200702:23 PM

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Re: Part 1: The Window

IlanaSimons wrote:

"But what people "say" in the book is not as important as what's implied between the lines. Characters express as much by what's left out as by what they make explicit. Characters read emotions and needs, not just words.
Any comments on this?"

The beauty of this book for me is seeing the interior life and thoughts of the characters (and also the descriptions of nature). It strikes me now as very real although I did not appreciate this at all when I was 17 and struggled through "To the Lighthouse" as one of my A-Level books. My response at that time was "Where's the plot?" I've reread this book (and Mrs. Dalloway) several times over the years and they are now way up there on my list of favourite books!
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things not said



IlanaSimons wrote:.. what people "say" in the book is not as important as what's implied between the lines. Characters express as much by what's left out as by what they make explicit.
Characters read emotions and needs, not just words.
Any comments on this?



I find this true even with Hemingway. Sometimes I feel it is even difficult to guess what is actually hidden when no 'hard facts' are given. Like i.e. with his impotence-injury in Sun Also Rises (Fiesta). Now, Wolf writing is different but still this hidden meaning that 'threatens' to arise is a powerful tool if a writer masters it fully.
IRL things not said/expressed can create terrible tension and anxiety in a group of people.

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like it now



psb wrote: I did not appreciate this at all when I was 17 and struggled through "To the Lighthouse" as one of my A-Level books. My response at that time was "Where's the plot?" I've reread this book (and Mrs. Dalloway) several times over the years and they are now way up there on my list of favourite books!




It's nice when books grow on you.
ziki :smileyhappy:
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little boys and women

On the first page, we get little James Ramsay, who "belonged, even at the age of six, to that great clan which cannot keep this feeling separate from that, but must let future prospects, with their joys and sorrows, cloud what is actually at hand." In this sense, James is like the women in the text. Sensitive, he allows emotions to influence so-called facts. Today's hopes color tomorrow. Then Dad comes in and cuts one thing definitively from another when he states unbudging facts: "No," Dad says, "we can't sail. It will rain."

Interestingly enough, James, sitting at mom's side, is just learning to use his scissors in this scene—learning to cut thing from thing, fact from fact. Mom looks down at her son and imagines that one day he'll be as strong-minded as a judge. He'll move from the wash of emotion to a world of seemingly clear, factual speech.

Men and women are cast radically different in this scene.
How do you see the male/female divide in this text?



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Re: Part 1: The Window - Mrs. Ramsay as a ship's mast



IlanaSimons wrote:
The first section of the book begins and ends with Mrs. Ramsay comforting men in her life. As the novel opens, she says to James, “Yes, of course [you will go sailing], if it’s fine tomorrow…. But you’ll have to be up with the lark.” Then the section ends as she says to her husband, “Yes, you were right. It’s going to be wet tomorrow. You won’t be able to go.”

Mrs. Ramsay gives the chapter a structural hug. She’s its central support, like the mast of a ship or lighthouse on shore. And throughout this section, Lily is watching her intently, painting her portrait.
Does anyone want comment on Mrs. Ramsay’s role as the central support in this book?




ohhhh.... this caused a melt down in my brain. We discussesd the mast so much in Moby Dick so now I have new facts to compute in my brain. (These discussions move a little too fast for me; a lot of these topics are very interesting).

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Re: Part 1: The Window: Lily and Tansley



IlanaSimons wrote:
Lily and Tansley each feel so special--so different from everyone around them. But Woolf also shows communality in the dinner scene, moving between Lily and Tansely’s heads, showing how their alienation links them.
Anyone have thoughts on these two characters?




Great questions, Ilana. I just want to say that as no one posted an answer yet. Personally I feel that I would need more time for a book like this. The original idea with these clubs was that some books could take longer than a single month but I am not sure what happened to that idea. The discussions stay open, which is great, but no one is there!

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Re: Part 1: The Window - Mrs. Ramsay as a ship's mast

[ Edited ]
Ziki--
I love your energy, even when you come in and out like a storm. you leave amazingly smart debris.

I missed the moby dick discussion altogether, I'm sad to say.



ziki wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote:
The first section of the book begins and ends with Mrs. Ramsay comforting men in her life. As the novel opens, she says to James, “Yes, of course [you will go sailing], if it’s fine tomorrow…. But you’ll have to be up with the lark.” Then the section ends as she says to her husband, “Yes, you were right. It’s going to be wet tomorrow. You won’t be able to go.”

Mrs. Ramsay gives the chapter a structural hug. She’s its central support, like the mast of a ship or lighthouse on shore. And throughout this section, Lily is watching her intently, painting her portrait.
Does anyone want comment on Mrs. Ramsay’s role as the central support in this book?




ohhhh.... this caused a melt down in my brain. We discussesd the mast so much in Moby Dick so now I have new facts to compute in my brain. (These discussions move a little too fast for me; a lot of these topics are very interesting).

ziki

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 04-27-200710:57 PM




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Re: Part 1: Ford Madox Ford's THE GOOD SOLDIER (Part IV, Section II)

oh, him again , good catch pmath...
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a ship's mast is important

[ Edited ]

IlanaSimons wrote:... even when you come in and out like a storm. you leave amazingly smart debris.





ROFL.... oh, ah, well, yes, hmmm, hehe, I guess it was like that lately. Truth to tell, I didn't find myself here yet since the autumn after we lost BNU....and I am also running after the book-trains here. LOL. The male admins tried to stoop me in their new mold and threatened to ban me when I said something they didn't like.....moderators voided and all that. I am a zooming ghost right now in some dire encounter with VW and Austen, what a challenge.
Last week I came across the Mother Mirror (Laurie Corbin) (ch.Orality and Specularity) and it says things like : the dual role of the mother as a victim of society and of men but also a victimizer of her daughter.....rejection in favor of her first born son.

...that sets me off but I can't yet order it all into any coherent pattern. It seems VW fought with some mighty forces (as we still do).

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 04-28-200705:45 AM

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Re: a ship's mast is important

What an interesting Corbin quote. If we read the 2nd generation in To The Lighthouse as the tier inhabited by Lily, Tansley, Paul and Minta, at least Woolf refuses to favor the sons, I think. Tansley and Lily are both slightly egotistical rebels--but Lily comes off deeper than Tansley. And I think Paul, tho so sweet, comes off as dim. You?




ziki wrote:

IlanaSimons wrote:... even when you come in and out like a storm. you leave amazingly smart debris.





ROFL.... oh, ah, well, yes, hmmm, hehe, I guess it was like that lately. Truth to tell, I didn't find myself here yet since the autumn after we lost BNU....and I am also running after the book-trains here. LOL. The male admins tried to stoop me in their new mold and threatened to ban me when I said something they didn't like.....moderators voided and all that. I am a zooming ghost right now in some dire encounter with VW and Austen, what a challenge.
Last week I came across the Mother Mirror (Laurie Corbin) (ch.Orality and Specularity) and it says things like : the dual role of the mother as a victim of society and of men but also a victimizer of her daughter.....rejection in favor of her first born son.

...that sets me off but I can't yet order it all into any coherent pattern. It seems VW fought with some mighty forces (as we still do).

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 04-28-200705:45 AM







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Re: Part 1: The Window

Is anybody still here?

Since I'm not sure, I'll try to keep this at least somewhat brief.

Two observations on Part 1:

1) You all have made the book sound so positive and uplifting :-) All about people loving and needing each other, while I'm finding the book beautifully sad and desperately lonely. I see these character dyads, trying to connect with each other, and over and over finding it impossible.

Most notably, the Ramseys: his identity is all tied up with his intellect and he doesn't believe his wife (or any woman, for that matter) is capable of understanding him on an intellectual level. While she feels things deeply, has wisdom and imagination, she doesn't believe that her husband (or any man) is capable of understanding her on an emotional level.

The tragedy of it is that they're probably both right, as least as far as it pertains to each other.

The passage that really made this clear to me is in Chapter 12, when they're talking about Andrew: "He wished Andrew could be induced to work harder. He would lose every chance of a scholarship if he didn't. "Oh, scholarships!" she said. Mr. Ramsey thought her foolish for saying that about a serious thing like a scholarship. He should be very proud of Andrew if he got a scholarship, he said. She would be just as proud of him if he didn't, she answered."

This kind of thing goes on all over Part 1, where the subject the characters are talking about on the surface is not actually what they're talking about, which is one of the reasons they can never seem to reach each other.

Then we get to Chapter 17 and it's like a Facade Symphony where all these desperately lonely people are interacting with each other in a code that would be comic if it wasn't so totally tragic in the most classical, Aristotlian sense of the word.

2) My hunch is that the lighthouse is a symbol (possibly an allegory) for intimacy. Each of the characters is trying to get there in his or her own way and they're always thwarted, by their own folly, by societal expectations, and so on.

I mean, is there a sadder line anywhere in Western literature than in Chapter 10 when Mrs. Ramsey is tucking James into bed?:

"In a moment he would ask her, "Are we going to the Lighthouse?" And she would have to say, "No: not tomorrow; your father says not." Happily, Mildred came in to fetch them, and the bustle distracted them. But he kept looking back over his shoulder as Mildred carried him out, and she was certain that he was thinking, we are not going to the Lighthouse tomorrow; and she thought, he will remember that all his life."


(And we were debating whether Virginia Woolf killed herself over a chemical imbalance? Looks to me more like a woman who felt things passionately and was profoundly lonely and misunderstood. Filling her pockets with stones and drowning herself in the ocean? That's somebody with not only a fatal taste for high classical tragedy, but also a well-developed sense of romanticism and irony.)

Anyway, if anybody's out there, give me a holler. I'm going to keep checking in as I finish the next two parts.
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Re: Part 1: The Window

[ Edited ]
Oh, I´m very sad I haven´t looked up for this Book Club before. This is my favorite Woolf´s novel and how wonderful to have a discussion on it. Hope I can still follow your insights.

Hugs!

Message Edited by Rosei on 09-17-2007 10:41 AM
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Re: Part 1: The Window

I'm sorry you miseed this discussion too. I now host the Literture & Life Board, and I hope you join us there.
Ilana



Rosei wrote:
Oh, I´m very sad I haven´t looked up for this Book Club before. This is my favorite Woolf´s novel and how wonderful to have a discussion on it. Hope I can still follow your insights.

Hugs!

Message Edited by Rosei on 09-17-2007 10:41 AM





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