Course Hero. "The Good Soldier Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Feb. 2019. Web. 4 July 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Good-Soldier/>.
Course Hero. (2019, February 7). The Good Soldier Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 4, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Good-Soldier/
(Course Hero, 2019)
Course Hero. "The Good Soldier Study Guide." February 7, 2019. Accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Good-Soldier/.
Course Hero, "The Good Soldier Study Guide," February 7, 2019, accessed July 4, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Good-Soldier/.
As a literary movement spanning from roughly 1890 to 1940, modernism sought to break with traditional conventions via experimentation and innovation. Modernism's roots lie in the rapid industrialization of the Victorian Age (1830–1901)—the period spanning most of Queen Victoria's reign—as artists felt alienated from Victorian norms, such as politeness and social conformity, and looked to express themselves in new ways. Modernism proliferated mostly after World War I (1914–18), but earlier modernist writers include Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) and Ford Madox Ford.
Some characteristics that are often found in modernist literature are:
Literary impressionism, which stresses the use of characters' sensory experiences to convey meaning, is a sub-genre of modernism. Ford defined himself as an impressionist and associated his fellow writer and collaborator Joseph Conrad with the movement regardless of Conrad's disdain for the label.
For Ford, impressionism meant more than concise sensory detail. In his 1913 essay "On Impressionism," Ford writes, "all art must be the expression of an ego." That is, the artist must necessarily embed his own views in his work, and as such, an impressionist work is "a frank expression of personality." Ford argues that a writer can never achieve true objectivity, and he feels the goal of a writer should be to convey accurately the subjectivity of human experience. This is indeed the thought behind The Good Soldier and John Dowell's rambling narration.
In literature a narrator's purpose is generally to tell a story that is consistent with the novel's own fictional reality. Sometimes, however, authors employ unreliable narrators, who misinterpret or misrepresent events to intentionally or unintentionally mislead the reader. Literary theorists have categorized various types of unreliable narrators, including:
Authors employ unreliable narration as a way to force the reader to interact more closely with the text. In The Good Soldier the reader must puzzle through John Dowell's rambling narrative, frequent contradictions, and amendments to previous statements. Ultimately, Ford leaves Dowell's level of unreliability up to the judgment of readers, allowing readers to interpret events for themselves.
Spa towns, or towns built around therapeutic hot springs, date back to Roman times. Spa towns were most popular as a social and medical phenomenon in Europe from the late 18th century to about 1920. At the beginning of the 20th century, when The Good Soldier is set, mainly wealthy patients continued to visit spa towns for the hot springs' mineral and thermal curative qualities. Wealthy patients also went to enjoy leisure activities in the surrounding natural environment. In The Good Soldier the characters regularly visit Bad Nauheim, which like other prominent German spa towns attracted visitors to its highly carbonated salt springs.
Bad Nauheim opened its curative saline baths in 1835 and officially became a German spa town in 1854. As narrator John Dowell mentions in The Good Soldier, Bad Nauheim's saline baths were especially attractive to heart patients as a recognized remedy for cardiovascular diseases.
Spa towns' effectiveness on patients' health had also to do with the relaxing atmosphere. Spa towns primarily attracted the wealthy, who were interested in being in the company of their own society. European nobles and prominent personalities visited Bad Nauheim regularly.