The Forsyte Saga

The Forsyte Saga

The Forsyte Saga

The Forsyte Saga

Synopsis

The three novels which make up The Forsyte Saga chronicle the ebbing social power of the commercial upper-middle class Forsyte family between 1886 and 1920. Galsworthy's masterly narrative examines not only their fortunes but also the wider developments within society, particularly the changing position of women. This is the only critical edition of the work available, with Notes that explain contemporary artistic and literary allusions and define the slang of the time.

Excerpt

The Forsyte Saga was the title originally destined for the part of it which is called The Man of Property; and to adopt it for the collected chronicles of the Forsyte family has indulged the Forsytean tenacity which is in all of us. The word Saga might be objected to on the ground that it connotes the heroic and that there is little of heroism in these pages. But it is used with a suitable irony; and, after all, this long tale, though it may deal with folk in frock coats, furbelows, and a gilt-edged period, is not devoid of the essential heat of conflict. Discounting for the gigantic stature and blood-thirstiness of old days, as they have come down to us in fairy-tale and legend, the folk of the old Sagas were Forsytes, assuredly, in their possessive instincts, and as little proof against the inroads of beauty and passion as Swithin, Soames, or even young Jolyon. And if heroic figures, in days that never were, seem to startle out from their surroundings in fashion unbecoming to a Forsyte of the Victorian era, we may be sure that tribal instinct was even then the prime force, and that 'family' and the sense of home and property counted as they do to this day, for all the recent efforts to 'talk them out.'

So many people have written and claimed that their families were the originals of the Forsytes, that one has been almost encouraged to believe in the typicality of that species. Manners change and modes evolve, and 'Timothy's on the Bayswater Road' becomes a nest of the unbelievable in all except essentials; we shall not look upon its like again, nor perhaps on such a one as James or old Jolyon. And yet the figures of Insurance Societies and the utterances of Judges reassure us daily that our earthly paradise is still a rich preserve, where the wild raiders, Beauty and Passion, come stealing in, filching security from beneath our noses. As surely as a dog will bark at a brass band, so will the essential Soames in human nature ever rise up uneasily against the dissolution which hovers round the folds of ownership.

'Let the dead Past bury its dead' would be a better saying if the Past ever died. The persistence of the Past is one of those tragi-comic blessings which each new age denies, coming . . .

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