IN the year 1906 two excellent novels appeared in England which gave their authors popularity and fame-- Joseph Vance, by William De Morgan, and The Man of Property, by John Galsworthy. One of the first notable men in England to recognize the distinction of the latter book was the late Alfred Ollivant, author of the finest dog-story ever written--Bob, Son of Battle. He was a good friend of mine, and when I wrote to him urging him to read Joseph Vance, I received the following reply, written from East- bourne, 18 August 1907.
I have not read Joseph Vance yet. Thank you for telling me about him. He has been well reviewed here in the considerable papers but I have not heard him talked about probably because I live a very secluded life, and know no literary folk. But curiously enough, two days after getting your letter I heard from Henry Jackson, the Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge, and perhaps our biggest scholar now Jebb is dead, and he advised me to read the book as being notable. And I shall certainly do so.
The literary sensation here to my mind has been the publication of a book called The Country House by a man called Galsworthy. It is the truth to say that I had not read a page before I found myself saying, "Here is a new mind." And further reading confirmed my first impression. In the first place G. is a consummate artist--how rare for an Englishman. I have heard him compared to Flaubert. In the second place he is soaked in our great modern idea of Evolution. It is this last characteristic which puts him in a place by himself, and distinguishes him from his contemporaries, and from those who have gone before. I may say I have been waiting for his coming for years. He is the first big mind who has applied the vast resources
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Publication information: Book title: Autobiography, with Letters. Contributors: William Lyon Phelps - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1939. Page number: 667.