Intersecting Life and Literature: Narrative Technique of Ford Madox Ford
The British author, Ford Madox Ford, pointed out time and again that he felt technique to be more important than subject matter. Ford asserted that a novel should be read, not simply to discover the outcome of a story, but rather to sustain a literary experience. To explain, he compared the reading of a novel to the eating of a meal:
"You eat a tiny portion of each of the seven courses of a dinner, not to arrive at repletion, but in order to taste certain flavors in sequence and to be moved by the almost infinite trains of association that will arise in your brain as the tongue communicates to it those savours (Vogue 130).
In collaboration with Joseph Conrad, Ford decided that the goal of a writer should be to leave behind him a creative record of his own time. He thought that the business of a novel was to present life's impressions in exactly the manner in which a persona might think back on them, without the author's appearing in the book personally. The story should be told through a narrator "who must be limited by probability as to what he can know of the affair he is adumbrating (Regents Critics 68)."
Ford's masterpiece in which he best displayed his notions on narrative technique, was his novel, The Good Soldier. The book provides a fascinating departure from most reports by narrators. First, the story is narrated in a "time-shift" order (Ford's term for stream-of-consciousness narration); second, the story is narrated by a persona whose version of what happened becomes less and less credible as the book progresses.
This presentation will discuss and analyze Ford's philosophy of narrative technique, and will demonstrate that technique as it was used in his book, The Good Soldier.
Keywords: Narrative, Ford Madox Ford, Good Soldier, The
Prof. G. Dawn Craner
Associate Professor, Communication Department, Boise State University