A Tale of Two Babies – One Dead, the Other Powerless to Be Born: Ambivalent Beginnings in Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier

in Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier
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Canonical readings of The Good Soldier interpret this new modernism through the novel’s unreliable narrator, its achronological view of time, its weary fascination with the sordid affairs of the wealthy, and its self-consciousness about the conventions of masculinity. Such attributes make Ford’s novel, in these readings, an exemplary modernist text – a text that looks back at the nineteenth century and its conventional plots as safely in the past. However, I propose that the novel is much more ambivalent as a modernist text than a surface reading reveals. I argue here that the novel’s repeated figure of infanticide connotes the simultaneous birth and death of modernism as a new and threatening literary form.

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