Ford Madox Ford

Franklin Library Ford Madox Ford books

The Good Soldier - Greatest Books of the Twentieth Century - 1980

Ford Madox Ford biography

Ford Madox Ford, born Ford Hermann Hueffer on December 17, 1873, in Merton, Surrey, England, was a prolific English novelist, editor, and critic. He was a key figure in early 20th-century literary circles, associated with the modernist movement and known for his contributions to literature and the literary scene. Ford came from a literary family; his grandfather was the Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown, and his father was the music critic Francis Hueffer. Ford began his career as a writer and editor, contributing to various literary journals and magazines. He was part of the vibrant literary scene in London during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, associating with prominent figures such as Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells, and Ezra Pound.

One of Ford's notable achievements is his role in founding the English Review in 1908, where he worked as the editor. This literary magazine played a significant role in promoting the works of emerging modernist writers. Ford Madox Ford is perhaps best known for his novel The Good Soldier, published in 1915. The novel is considered a masterpiece of modernist literature, exploring themes of betrayal, deception, and the complexities of human relationships. Ford's narrative innovations and his use of unreliable narrators influenced later generations of writers.

In addition to his novels, Ford wrote poetry, essays, and literary criticism. He collaborated with Joseph Conrad on the novel The Inheritors and wrote the tetralogy Parade's End, which is another significant work in his literary oeuvre. Ford's life was marked by personal and professional challenges, including financial difficulties and strained relationships. Despite these challenges, his contributions to literature continued to shape the course of modernist writing. Ford Madox Ford passed away on June 26, 1939, leaving behind a rich literary legacy that continues to be studied and appreciated for its innovative and influential qualities.

The Good Soldier

The Good Soldier relates the complex social and sexual relationships between two couples, one English, one American, and the growing awareness by the American narrator John Dowell of the intrigues and passions behind their orderly Edwardian facade. It is the attitude of Dowell, his puzzlement, his uncertainty, and the seemingly haphazard manner of his narration that make the book so powerful and mysterious. Despite its catalogue of death, insanity, and despair, the novel has many comic moments, and has inspired the work of several distinguished writers, including Graham Greene.

"A Tale of Passion," as its subtitle declares.

The Dowells, a wealthy American couple, have been close friends with the Ashburnhams for years. Edward Ashburnham, a first-rate soldier, seems to be the perfect English gentleman, and Leonora his perfect wife, but beneath the surface their marriage seethes with unhappiness and deception. Our only window on the strange tangle of events surrounding Edward is provided by John Dowell, the husband he deceives. Gradually Dowell unfolds a devastating story, in which everyone's honesty is in doubt. The Good Soldier is a masterpiece of narrative skill and emotional depth.

When John Dowell and his wife befriend Edward and Leonora Ashburnham, they appear to be the perfect couple. He is a distinguished soldier and she is beautiful and intelligent. However, what lies beneath the surface of their marriage is far more sinister and their influence leads John into a tragic drama that threatens to destroy everything he cares about.

Ford Madox Ford wrote The Good Soldier, the book on which his reputation most surely rests, in deliberate emulation of the nineteenth-century French novels he so admired. In this way he was able to explore the theme of sexual betrayal and its poisonous after-effects with a psychological intimacy as yet unknown in the English novel.


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