The Silences of Modernism in The Good Soldier

in Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier
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This paper engages the debate regarding Dowell’s iconic status as a representative of modernism. In his article “The Good Soldier and the War for British Modernism” Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy claims that John Dowell is a representation of modernism, or at least of one type of modernism that he claims Ford felt would not satisfactorily represent the modern condition and dilemma. By contrast, this paper argues that John Dowell is not a modernist at all. The narrative could be called modernist, in the sense that it is a record of Dowell’s thoughts as they come to him; it is a reflection of consciousness. However, Dowell claims that he is merely trying to report to a silent auditor; the character has no aspirations of creating a new literary form. The modernist intentions are those of Ford; he is re-constructing the consciousness of his character.

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