The Good Soldier
Important Quotations Explained
This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
For, though women, as I see them, have little or no feeling of responsibility towards a county or a country or a career—although they may be lacking in any kind of communal solidarity—they have an immense and automatically working instinct that attaches them to the interest of womanhood.
Mind, I am not preaching anything contrary to accepted morality. I am not advocating free love in this or any other case. Society must go on, I suppose, and society can only exist if the normal, if the virtuous, and the slightly deceitful flourish, and if the passionate, the headstrong, and the too truthful are condemned to suicide and madness.
I don't think that before that day I had ever wanted anything very much except Florence. I have, of course, had appetites, impatiences. Why, sometimes at the table d'hote, when there would be say, caviare handed round, I have been absolutely full of impatience for fear that when the dish came to me there should not be a satisfying portion left.
Leonora, as I have said, was the perfectly normal woman. I mean to say that in normal circumstances her desires were those of the woman who is needed by society. She desired children, decorum, an establishment; she desired to avoid waste, she desired to keep up appearances. She was utterly and entirely normal even in her utterly undeniable beauty. But I don't mean to say she acted perfectly normally in the perfectly abnormal situation. All the world was mad around her and she herself, agonized, took on the complexion of a mad woman; of a woman very wicked; of the villain of the piece. What would you have? Steel is a normal, hard, polished substance. But, if you put it in a hot fire it will become red, soft, and not to be handled. If you put it in a fire still more hot it will drip away. It was like that with Leonora.
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