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Modernist Movement in Ford's Good Soldier and Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway Essay

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Ford Madox Ford and Virginia Woolf were major contributors to the modernist movement. They, as well as others (such as James Joyce), were trying something new, by breaking down the boundaries of traditional writing. Ford's Good Soldier and Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway are two particular examples of the genre. These novels were not well-received in their own time. As time went on, however, the attitudes of the literary world changed and were able to finally see these works for what they really are – exemplary pieces of fiction, certainly worth merit.

The Good Soldier was first published in 1915. Rebecca West penned a promising review for the year, ending with “Indeed, this is a much, much better book than any of us deserve” (40). Theodore Dreiser, in his review published in the New Republic in June of the same year, is not as kind. He disdains John Dowell as narrator, particularly his unreliable and meandering style, calling it a “bad method” (Dreiser 41). Dreiser goes on to explain that he finds no fault with the plot, just with the way Ford went about telling it. It is interesting to note that Dreiser states that a story must proceed in a linear fashion, bemoaning the fact that The Good Soldier does not follow this form, but yet winds up his article by calling the book “fairly representative of that encrusting formalism which, barnacle-wise, is apparently overtaking and destroying all that is best in English life” (43).

In the early 1950s, there was a resurgence in interest (and criticism) of The Good Soldier. Mark Schorer, in his introduction to the 1951 reprint of the novel, called it a “great work of comic irony” (44). Where Dreiser denigrated the form of the novel as if it were sloppy and slapdash, Schore...


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...so did literature, and eventually, critics began to come around and focus on particular aspects of these works, rather than dislike for them.



Works Cited

Author Unknown. “Book Notices.” The English Journal 14 (1925): 738-744. 4 Nov. 2014.

Bullett, Gerald. “Virginia Woolf.” The English Journal 17 (1928): 793-800. 4 Nov. 2014.

Cassell, Richard A., ed. Critical Essays on Ford Madox Ford. Boston: G.K. Hall and Co., 1987.

Cheng, Vincent J. "Religious Differences in `The Good Soldier': The `Protest' Scene." Renascence 37 (1985): 238-247. Literature Resource Center. Infotrac. U of South Florida, Tampa. 18 Nov 2014.
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Hoffman, Charles G. Ford Madox Ford. Boston: G.K. Hall and Co., 1990.

Wright, Nathalia. “Mrs. Dalloway: A Study in Composition.” College English 5 (1944): 351-358. 3 Nov. 2014.


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