These things happen. John Galsworthy became involved with a girl whom his family which to distance their son from at all costs. Since his father, who was to be the senior member of the Forsyte family in Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Sage- The Man of Property, was dominating his son through financial dependence, he arranged for his son to take a trip to Canada to cool the ardor. After this failed, the father now cunningly suggested that John’s prospects would be better if he were to switch from the Chancery Bar to the Admiralty Division and that it would be a splendid idea if, in order to learn about the practical background of this sort of law, he were to take a long voyage. A very long voyage. …
In 1893 he met the writer Joseph Conrad while on a South Sea voyage. In a letter written while travelling home Galsworthy noted: “The first mate is a Pole called Conrad, and is a capital chap though queer to look at; he is a man of travel and experience in many parts of the world, and has a fund of yarns on which I draw freely.” This meeting convinced him to give up law and become a writer instead.Read More:http://www.classicreader.com/author/170/about/
…Along with Harrow schoolmate Ted Sanderson, who had helped him un-freeze his stiff necked and aloof persona, they set off: via Ceylon and Australia, to visit Robert Louis Stevenson on Samoa. He never got there, because his companion came down with dysentery in the interior of Suva: Galsworthy now exhibited the remarkable talent for nursing that was later to be worked so hard. Coming home he made the acquaintance of Conrad who was also working on a manuscript, a story called Almayer’s Folly which he secreted in his cabin, but made no mention of it to Galsworthy….
Galsworthy’s “Saga” was really about adapting to the modern age. To drag the legacy of Victorian humanism beyond Edwardian England and into a confrontation with the militarism and totalitarianism forming soon after the conclusion of WWI. What Galsworthy was understanding was how does one co-exist with the new mass society which was dominated by a Clauswitz theory of war being an extension of politics which is now being weaned off this relationship by mass commercial considerations, consumer capitalism which finds expediency in scarificing reason for the irrational, volatile “war glands” where conflicts among peoples are beyond human control and the individual’s actions within the collective is guided by sex and psychology instead of rational men and women. The Sam Huntington nightmare of the clash of civilizations.
At a superficial level, the satirizing of upper crust life serves as a tacit acceptance and reinforces its insular values. But why should the baby be thrown out with the bath water. Why should there be a rupture with history? Marcel Duchamp and Dada reflected the nihilism inherent in the ready-made; not to disparage the freshness but the intent often enough to destroy the past. So, the transition Galsworthy was documenting was becoming part of mass society as opposed to defining themselves as implicitly against it. It was how to deal with the rise of a mass consumer culture that inexorably submerged the classical individualism which underpinned upper middle class Victorian subjectivity in all its virtues and flaws.
[mourning paper, letterhead:] 14, Addison Road, W., Littlehampton Sep. 30. 06.
‘The Mirror of the Sea’ is magnificent. It ranks with your very highest work, and I think the episode in Initiation the finest thing you have ever written. I wept over it seated on a public seat & surrounded by natives. Altogether an ‘epic’ book, and if I don’t gr
y mistake, the best selling book you have turned out. The style on the whole is in advance of anything you have done. It is terser & more varied. Honestly I am delighted–& astonished, because you’ve been so quiet about it. Your way of marshalling the stuff is extraordinarily ingenious and repaying; and the book breathes a single spirit–a loving spirit–out of its pages….
…As I say, it is the epic of the sailing ship. My heartfelt admiration goes out to you. I’m certain Edward, Hudson and all the faithful will be bowled over by it. And the public too I guess, or we have lost the spirit of the sea which I am loth to believe.
Cobwebs & Gossamer, The fine Art–The weight of the Burden, Overdue & Missing, In Captivity, Initiation, & the Tremolino are the gems, but there is not one that could be missed. Read More:http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-80849900.html
—————————————————-Hubble:Ford was less enthusiastic about the satire, regarding it as already a step towards what he saw as the reformist didacticism of the later novels. In particular, he objected that the problem with The Man of Property was that a real-life Bosinney, which is to say a real-life early modernist, would have run away with Irene to Capri and lived in sunlit bliss: ‘But no, says Galsworthy, that would not prove that the middle classes are always cruel and victorious over the unfortunate’ . While Ford accepted that such ‘dogged determination to present antitheses’ was what made Galsworthy such a successful playwright because it allowed him to squeeze ‘the last drop of drama out of a situation’ (ibid), he argued that it was to the detriment of the art of the novel. The difference between himself and Galsworthy was that he believed that the business of art was not to elevate but to present life as it is in the terms of art, whereas Galsworthy believed in ‘propaganda for virtue’. This distinction, of course, has become familiar to us following critical work by people such as Stephen Spender and Malcolm Bradbury as the opposition between the ‘Modern’ and the ‘Contemporary’. However, Ford’s argument should not simply be seen as a critical putdown of Galsworthy:
Yet it used to fill me with amazement to see Galsworthy at work -– the grim persistence with which he made point after point, the dog-like tenacity with which he held to his thesis. He would ponder for hours and hours. Then the little rabbits would creep out to die after the battues; the law-parted lovers would feel their thumbscrews pinching tighter; the convicts batter on their cell doors until the cruel stupidity of men and their institutions was shown at its apogee –- and beyond.
It is the final ‘beyond’ in conjunction with the initial ‘amazement’ that lets us know that while Ford did not particularly like what Galsworthy was doing, he could see that there was a powerful dynamic underlying it, which went beyond usual didacticism. Thinking about Galsworthy’s repetitive technique in this way invites comparison with a number of Freud’s ideas and, in particular, that of the analytic process, itself, which depends on the analyst inducing a compulsion to repeat in the patient, who then ‘acts’ out what has been repressed as a ‘piece of real life’ (Freud 1958, 150-2). In the same manner, it might be suggested that by doggedly putting the Forsytes, and Soames in particular, through an immense sequence of similar situations, Galsworthy was able to make them act out exactly that part of themselves which was repressed by their Victorian capitalist class status. Read More:http://www.literarylondon.org/london-journal/hubble.html