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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) PEACE and THE GOOD SOLDIER
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 12:43:42 

Synchronicity moment, friends!

"THE GOOD SOLDIER is, Eugene Goodheart claims, `one of the most puzzling
works of modern fiction.' It is notoriously hard to make sense of Ford's
characters, their backgrounds, and their actions. There is critical
dissension on such issues as whether the title (in so far as it refers to
Captain Edward Ashburnham's `goodness') is ironic or not. The narrative is
speckled with what look like factual contradictions (about such crucial
data as when and where the Dowells first met the Ashburnhams). Close
inspection reveals that the chronology is awry at almost every point. `Is
this,' Martin Stannard asks, `Fordian irony or simply carelessness about
details?' Should we lay the inconsistencies at the door of an artfully
unreliable narrator (John Dowell), or at the door of a slipshod writer
(Ford Madox Ford)? Some critics, Vincent Cheng for instance (who has
assembled a convincing chronology of THE GOOD SOLDIER), believe that Ford
is writing in `the French mode of _vraisemblance_,' and that it is
legitimate to ask `what actually happens?' with a reasonable expectation of
getting `right' answers. Other commentators, such as Frank Kermode, see THE
GOOD SOLDIER as the _locus classicus_ of modernist indeterminacy. `We are
in a world of which it needs to be said not that plural readings are
possible (for this is true of all narrative) but that the _illusion of the
single right reading is possible no longer_.'"

That's a long quote, but the article gets even better: the title of the
piece is "Whose daughter is Nancy?" and it becomes something rather like
our Doris enigma.  It is in a neat little paperback book (Dan'l and hello
there Henry Kaiser, they have 'em at Half Price Books [which is a used
bookstore chain based in Texas, Roy]) titled CAN JANE EYRE BE HAPPY? which

Heads-up Jonathan Laidlow, since there's an article on Tristam Shandy
called "Slop Slip." (I can give more details if you need.)

Hey, wish I could give everybody here copies of these books for Christmas,
so go out and get them.  The author is John Sutherland.  Published by
Oxford University Press as part of their World's Classics series.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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