Ford Madox Ford’s life spanned two centuries. Born in 1873, he passed away in 1939. His 1915 novel “A good Soldier: Tale of Passion” is considered one of the greatest works of the twentieth century. The novel’s original title was “The Saddest Story.” As World War I was in progress, his publishers suggested a different title for his novel. The title ‘The Good Soldier’ was suggested by Madox Ford on the spur of the moment, and it was immediately accepted by the publisher.
The Good Soldier is a passionate love story. Critics believe that the novel is possibly based on Madox Ford’s personal life, which included intrigue and adultery. The novel is set just before the outbreak of World War I and tells the story of a soldier, Edward Ashburnham. Despite appearing to be a happily married man, Edward is the tragic figure in the book. In addition to Edward, Ford creates two American companions for Edward.
Madox Ford tells the story in an original manner. He utilizes flashbacks. These are not in chronological order, but are representative of Madox Ford’s distinctive style. John Dowell, an American, relates the narrative. The novel primarily describes the sexual relationships between two American and English couples. John Dowell, the story’s narrator, is the only person the reader can approach, as he is the only one telling the story. As the reader progresses through the story, a macabre atmosphere develops.
Madox gradually reveals through narrator John Dowell a world that leads to insanity, death, and despair. In this regard, the novel is a difficult read. Madox Ford brings to the forefront, as the reader reads the book, the many vicissitudes of life and the relationship that dominates a man and a woman the most, the sexual relationship. The novel is a powerful depiction of human life, and after reading it, one wonders if Madox Ford led a life in which his dreams were unfulfilled.
The novel is not a single narrative, but rather is divided into four interconnected parts.
Madox Ford’s novel is a profound statement on life. The Modern Library ranked ‘The Good Soldier’ thirty on its list of the century’s top one hundred English-language novels in 1998. According to the majority of critics, it is one of the finest novels written in the 20th century. Madox Ford worked with Thomas Hardy and befriended Ernest Hemingway. Even though Hemingway wrote a chapter in one of his books about meeting Madox in a restaurant, it was one of his regrets that he was not recognized by these two distinguished individuals.