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The Forsyte Saga
by John Galsworthy
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The three novels which make up The Forsyte Saga chronicle the ebbing social power of the commerical upper-middle class Forsyte family between 1886 and 1920. Soames Forsyte is the brilliantly portrayed central figure, a Victorian who outlives the age, and whose baffled passion for his beautiful but unresponsive wife Irene reverberates throughout the saga. Written with both compassion and ironic detachment, Galsworthy's masterly narrative examines not only the family's fortunes but also the wider developments within society, particularly the changing position of women in an intensely competitive male world. Above all, Galsworthy is concerned with the conflict at the heart of English culture between the soulless materialism of wealth and property and the humane instincts of love, beauty, and art.
The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Sequence of three novels linked by two interludes by John Galsworthy. The saga chronicles the lives of three generations of a monied, middle-class English family at the turn of the century. As published in 1922, The Forsyte Saga consisted of the novel The Man of Property (1906); the interlude (a short story) "Indian Summer of a Forsyte" (1918); the novel In Chancery (1920); the interlude "Awakening" (1920); and the novel To Let (1921). Soames Forsyte, a solicitor and "the man of property," is married to the beautiful, penniless Irene, who falls in love with Philip Bosinney, the French architect whom Soames had hired to build a country house. Soames rapes Irene and proceeds to ruin Bosinney, who subsequently dies in a traffic accident in London. Irene returns to Soames. In Chancery concerns the love between Irene and Young Jolyon Forsyte, Soames's cousin. (The story of the last days of Old Jolyon, his father, is told in "Indian Summer of a Forsyte.") Irene and Soames divorce; she marries Jolyon and bears a son, Jon. Soames and his second wife, Annette Lamotte, have a daughter, Fleur. In To Let, Fleur and Jon grow up and fall in love; Jolyon informs his son of Irene and Soames's past relationship. Although Fleur is determined to marry Jon, he refuses. Fleur becomes the wife of Michael Mont, son of a baronet. Jolyon dies, and Irene leaves England. Soames discovers that Annette is involved in an affair with a Frenchman, as Irene had been.
About the Author
John Galsworthy (1867-1933) was educated at Oxford, where he prepared to go into law, but later decided to devote himself to writing. The Man of Property (1906), the first of the three novels that became The Forsyte Saga, established his reputation as an author and a keen observer of society. Galsworthy was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932.
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