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The novel is told using a series of flashbacks in non-chronological order, a literary technique that formed part of Ford's pioneering view of literary impressionism. Ford employs the device of the unreliable narrator to great effect as the main character gradually reveals a version of events that is quite different from what the introduction leads the reader to believe. The novel was loosely based on two incidents of adultery and on Ford's messy personal life.
The novel’s original title was The Saddest Story, but after the onset of World War I, the publishers asked Ford for a new title. Ford suggested The Good Soldier, and the name stuck.