Galsworthy, John. (1867 - 1933).
W o r k
- the last major story-teller of the Victorian era (his traditional methods) and/or one of the first writers of the Edwardian era (his challenging some of the ideals of the Victorian society)
- author of several dozens of realist novels and socially critical plays
- preoccupied with class-consciousness and class conflict
- gives a precise account of the upper class’s opinions and attitudes
- uses the novel as an instrument of social debate, the artist’s duty is to examine a problem x but: not to offer a solution
F i c t i o n :
The Forsyte Saga: The Man of Property (1906), In Chancery (1920), and To Let (1921):
- a vast account of the fortunes of the three generations of a wealthy upper middle class Victorian family
- generally sympathetic to his characters x but: highlights their snobbish attitudes and suffocating moral codes
> won him the Nobel Prize (1932), filmed several times
A Modern Comedy (1924 - 1928) and End of the Chapter (1931 - 1933):
- both trilogies, loose sequels of The Forsyte Saga
D r a m a :
- in his lifetime appreciated mainly as a playwright
- propagandist: the bourgeois theatre should confront bourgeois audiences with the need to examine their social consciences
- uses stark, one-word titles expressive of the once urgent social themes
- sympathetic to the victims of an uncaring society x but: sentimental and politically impartial
- campaigned for a variety of causes: prison reform, women’s rights, animal welfare, censorship, etc.
The Silver Box (1906):
- on the double standards of justice applied to the upper x lower classes
- the mutual alienation of a rich x a poor family complicated by a theft
- on the confrontation of the capital x labour in a mining strike
- on human suffering in prisons
> moved Winston Churchill to abolish solitary confinement in prisons
- the protagonist, a law-abiding man, accidentally kills a police in defending a prostitute, escapes from prison, and meets different people before giving himself up
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorJohn Galsworthy. (1867 - 1933). British.
WorkNovelist. Playwright. Author of The Forsyte Saga (1906 - 22). Nobel Prize Winner (1932).
GenresEdwardian period. Traditional novel. Family saga. Socially critical play.
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Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.
Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.
Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.
Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
"The Forsytes were resentful of something, not individually, but as a family; this resentment expressed itself in an added perfection of raiment, an exuberance of family cordiality, an exaggeration of family importance, and—the sniff."
From The Man of Property (1906).