Monday, 24 June 2013

THE GOOD SOLDIER – Ford Madox Ford, 1915

Good literature is constantly surprising. There is nothing like it in this world. You can read a book and soak up the world it provides. You can almost get drunk on its pleasures, without the need for paracetamol the next morning.
I read this book in the garden, in the sunshine. It blew my mind. And I don’t say that lightly: The Great Gatsby, The Painted Veil, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind; yes they did it, but we have all heard of those, so it was so lovely to find this secret classic.
This book was, apparently, shocking when it was first published. It is, of course, tame these days but still incredibly powerful.
A tragic outcome occurs when there are no holds placed on passion but this tragedy is so beautifully revealed that I am amazed it is not better known and the subject of at least six films which fail to capture its subtleties. ( I see it was produced for TV starring the wonderful Jeremy Brett, so I have ordered it right away)

Two couples meet and intermingle on the continent before the First World War. The 4th August reverberates throughout. Whether the date was added, or changed, after the outbreak of war is open to conjecture. But such a debate, while interesting, is almost irrelevant. It is the beautiful writing, revealing the ultimate tragedy which makes this such an important find for me. 

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