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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ford Madox Ford and Book 2

Well, I am glad to admit that Ford is a genius of plot. No wonder Graham Greene called the novel "[o]ne of the fifteen or twenty greatest novels produced in English in our century." The revelation of Edward Ashburnham's affair with the narrator's wife, Florence, is brought in at a critical point. What happens next is a stroke of masterful genius, really. Edward is also having an affair with another woman at the same time he is keeping Florence. Florence sees them together and has a heart attack (remember she has a weak heart)... or did she? I was really surprised at the suggestion that Florence committed suicide. Leonore, Edward's wife, proposes this to the narrator who is unwilling to believe it at the time. Another twist in the suicide theory: While at the lobby of the hotel, John (the narrator) is approached by a man who supposedly knows Florence from before she married John. The theory is that when Florence returned to the hotel after seeing Edward with the other woman, she was pale and clutching her chest. At the same time, Bagshaw--the man talking to John--reveals that Florence had had an affair with a man before marrying John. Therefore, Florence (at least in John's estimation) had a heart attack due to seeing Bagshaw and John talking (apparently, she guessed at Bagshaw's intentions). Whatever reservations I had about Ford's technique have vanished. He's an excellent novelist. There's a particularly good description of this Bagshaw fellow that should be textbook for beginning writers: "Well, he was an unmistakable, with a military figure, rather exaggerated, with bulbous eyes that avoided your own, and a pallid complexion that suggested vices practised in secret, along with an uneasy desire for making acquaintance at whatever cost..." Brilliant description. I think I am reading a bit too fast for my writing; I am already 60 something pages away from finishing the book.

Final exams for the first semester of school are on Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week. Lest I don't have time to write those days, I hope you understand.

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