The Man Of Property

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1 March 2016

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Galsworthy was no longer young when he began writing the last years of the 19th century. His first works were very attracting. His best novels were written in the early decades of this century. His first notable work was “The Island Pharisees” (1904) was the first book to appear under his own name in which he attacks the stagnation of thought in the English privileged classes. He criticizes them for being content with the bourgeois way of life, stressing the fact that their minds have become inert and lazy. Galsworthy’s masterpiece is the trilogy entitled “The Forsyte Saga”. It comprises three novels and two interludes, as the author calls then: The Man of Property (1906), In Chancery (1920), Awakening (interlude-1920), Indian Summer a Forsyte (interlude), and To Let (1921). That to be told in this trilogy will be dealt with later on. “The Forsyte Saga” was continued by the three volumes of “A Modern Comedy”, “The White Monkey” (1924), “The Silver Spoon” (1926), “Swan Song” (1928), and its two interludes “A Silent Wooing” and “Passersby” (1927). Meanwhile, he had written a considerable number of novels, short stories, and plays. The trilogy called “End of the Chapter”, written at a later period shows a marked define in the author’s talent as a critical realist. The three novels are “Maid in Waiting” (1931) – first book of “End of the Chapter”, “Flowing Wilderness” (1932) – second book of “End of the Chapter”, and “One More River” (originally “Over the River”-1933) – third book of “End of the Chapter”. In the two trilogies “A Modern Comedy” and “End of The Chapter” written after the World War I, Galsworthy’s criticism becomes less biting. The old generation of the Forsyte does not seem so bad to other as compared to the new one. This development is nowhere more evident than in the author’s changing attitude toward Soams Forsyte, the “man of property”, who dominates the first part of the work. Galsworthy is also known as a dramatist of the considerable technical skill.

His plays often took up specific social grievances such as the double standard of justice as applied to the upper and lower classes in the “Silver Box” (1906) and the confrontation of capital and labor in “Strife” (1909). “Justice” (1910), his most famous play, led to a prison reform in England. Galsworthy’s reaction o the First World War found its expression in “The Mob” (1914), in which the voice of a statesman is drowned in the madness of the war-hungry masses; and in enmity of the two families of “The Skin Game” (1920). He also wrote verse. Being receptive to the tradition of English real novels, the tradition of Charles Dickens, and Thomas Stearns Eliot, Galsworthy’s works were also strongly influence Russian and French literature. Turgeniev and Maupssant were the first writes who gave him real aesthetic excitement and insight into proportion of theme and economy of works. Galsworthy always upheld a literary ideal before the concise realism of Turgeniev and Tolstoy served model and helped him a great deal in describing natural people. Galsworthy was a great master at creating characters. In his opinion, each character should possess features, call of a certain group in society. His novels are packet with characters of whom most are alive and full-blood. This is the feature which he considered indispensable with which he could appeal both to the reader’s reason to their heart, but there is a little sentimentality to be found in his works. During his career, Galsworthy produced 20 novels, 27 plays, 3 collections of poetry, 173 short stories, 5 collection of essays, and 700 letters. Today he is remembered as a faithful documentarian who captured the spirit of an era.

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