THE only two complete manuscripts of The Good Soldier are housed at Cornell University Library. The first is some 376 pages of holograph and typescript; the second, which consists Of 305 typed pages, is the printer's copy. The portions of the first manuscript which are in holograph were written by three different people: most of Part I ( MS pages 2-44 and 47-82) was written by Brigit Patmore; much of Part III ( MS pages 141-96, 206-18, and 225-53) appears to have been written by the American Imagist poet H. D. ( Hilda Doolittle); the last two chapters, less the first two, typed pages ( MS pages 342-76) look to be in the hand of H. D.'s husband, the English Imagist poet Richard Aldington. In It Was the Nightingale, Ford pays ironic tribute to H. D. and Aldington: 'When I was dictating the most tragic portion of my most tragic book to an American poetess she fainted several times. One morning she fainted three times. So I had to call in her husband to finish the last pages of the book. He did not faint' (pp. 220-1).
The holograph portions of the manuscript surely represent first drafts; the typed portions may or may not be. (Theoretically, the first draft of the novel could have been wholly handwritten by secretaries, with large swatches so completely rewritten that long holograph portions were simply discarded for typed, second-draft pages. The appearance of the manuscript does not, however, suggest this.) In any case, some of Ford's revisions and excisions in the first manuscript are quite interesting.
Not surprisingly, changes occur with greatest frequency in the early pages where Ford is still feeling his way into the book. Some of the changes are relatively minor--the slight but unerring revisions of the highly experienced professional: