MY DEAR STELLA,
I have always regarded this as my best book--at any rate as the best book of mine of a pre-war period; and between its writing and the appearance of my next novel nearly ten years must have elapsed, so that whatever I may have since written may be regarded as the work of a different man--as the work of your man. For it is certain that without the incentive to live that you offered me I should scarcely have survived the war- period and it is more certain still that without your spurring me again to write I should never have written again. And it happens that, by a queer chance, The Good Soldier is almost alone amongst my books in being dedicated to no one: Fate must have elected to let it wait the ten years that it waited-- for this dedication.
What I am now I owe to you: what I was when I wrote The Good Soldier I owed to the concatenation of circumstances of a rather purposeless and wayward life. Until I sat down to write this book--on the 17th December, 1913--I had never attempted to extend myself, to use a phrase of race-horse training. Partly because I had always entertained very fixedly the idea that--whatever may be the case with other writers--I at least should not be able to write a novel by which I should care to stand before reaching the age of forty; partly because I very definitely did not want to come into competition with other writers whose claim or whose need for recognition and what recognitions bring were greater than my own. I had never really tried to put into any novel of mine all that I knew about writing. I had written rather desultorily a number of books--a great number--but they had all been in the nature of pastiches, of pieces of rather precious writing, or of tours de force. But I have always been mad about writing--about the way writing should be done