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A social satire of epic proportions and one that does not suffer by comparison with Thackeray s Vanity FairThe whole comedy of manners, convincing both in its fidelity to life and as a work of art New York TimesThe characters themselves are recognizable and compelling, and Galsworthy still hits his targets materialism, selfishness, insensitivity, possessiveness with force and accuracy Guardian London Richly satirical Post Gazette.comA social satire of epic proportions and one that does not suffer by comparison with Thackeray s Vanity Fairthe whole comedy of manners, convincing both in its fidelity to life and as a work of art Anders Osterling on White Monkey Galsworthy possesses two essential gifts storytelling and the creation of character He also displays the acuteness and tenacity of imagination not only to create an immensely detailed and consistent social world, but to record its inner transmutation over a period of time Geoffrey Harvey, senior lecturer, Reading UniversityThe Forsyte Saga was the title originally destined for that 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 that 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 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 an imagined 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. John Galsworthy never Sir John only by his own choice, though he did accept the Order of Merit , one of the notable British writers of the first quarter of the 20th century, has subsequently faded somewhat from the canon of British writers in the 20th century, despite his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932 Galsworthy was a very traditional Victorian Edwardian writer in his style, despite making his books social criticisms of Victorian Edwardian values his best work coincided with the rise of artistic modernism, which has tended to overshadow his traditional approach The Forsyte Saga , a collection of three novels linked by two short stories, is Galsworthy s magnum opus, and has been twice adapted by the BBC into major miniseries first and most famously in 1967, and again in 2002 it has lingered so in the public consciousness than its author This large volume collects the entirety of the original quintology some spoilers follow.The first and, originally planned to be the only novel in the series, The Man of Property , was published in 1906, and set in the high Victorian period, focussing on the Forsyte family, the numerous long lived sons and daughters of Jolyon Superior Dorset Forsyte, and their own descendants There is Old Jolyon Superior s eldest son , who has estranged himself from his son Young Jolyon for the latter s scandalous affair, and has raised his daughter June, who is engaged to an architect and Soames Forsyte, the son of Jolyon s brother James, who is married to Irene, and commissions the architect to build a house that he hopes will help revive the passion in his relationship with Irene.Galsworthy s twin focuses, which carry on through the whole series, are the strictures of Victorian values of commerce and proper behaviour which particularly impact the two Jolyons , and the subordinate legal position of women in society though the ridiculous divorce laws also hamstring men, as we later see These carry on through the subsequent novels, published than a decade after, and the two short stories the second short story, Awakenings , is honestly pretty throwaway, but Indian Summer of a Forsyte is lovely Galsworthy s writing style is eminently restrained Soames decision to force himself on his wife Irene near the climax of the first novel is only described briefly in a single paragraph, and the nature of this act is never verbalized or even narrated by anyone for almost the entire remainder of the trilogy, even though it is absolutely essential to understanding what s going on Stiff upper lip, indeed The characterization really sells the story the plots are frequently not anything to write home about the third novel even opens with a quote from Romeo and Juliet , which would tell people in fair detail how the entire main storyline will play out, until the very end, which is muted.Recommended. The Forsyte Saga is Galsworthy s epic, Nobel winning story of an uppercrust English family in London and its environs circa end of the 19th century It primarily centers on Soames Forsyte, a well intentioned malcontent who is gradually worn down by the trappings of affluence and the stunning disappointment it invariably creates He takes as his wife and property Irene, a transcendent woman who marries for convenience, but soon learns of the gravity of her error and spends the rest of the novel trying to get out of the novel There are also many other subplots, romances, peripheral characters, and subtle scenes scattered throughout that detail a respect for beauty and life, mingled with an apprehension about living it to a level that one feels they deserve This constant cold war between passion and propriety leads the novel to a downcast but oddly hopeful conclusion.As a novel, this is as distinguished as the art form can get Mysteriously absent from the numerous best of lists out there, it is nonetheless as good and complete as any other book I have read in recent memory Galsworthy s great talent was mixing the entertaining with the substantive the whole book is as dramatically entertaining as a soap opera, but nonetheless details the human spirit with supreme elegance There is not a single character here that isn t completely human, whose interactions always make sense, and who are true At the end I didn t necessary like all of them, but I understood them to a T Galsworthy was also a master of description, and was able to amplify quiet moments of joy or devastation with economy and grace Add to that the fact that the book overall moves quickly and is continually entertaining, and you have one of the most readable great books in existence This is an exceedingly elegant, wonderful novel that was an honor to stumble upon I guess I ll be recommending it to readers forever Truly outstanding. Mr Galsworthy serves up the Forsyte Saga as a sumptuous meal of rich descriptions and savory characters in delightful, bite size pieces It is a long read, however, because of such rich character development, these people and their personalities become a subliminal attachment to the reader s circle of friends and acquaintances Its okay if one is unable to read continuously, because one knows their secrets and stories will keep, and every bit of gossip and story will be saved for the next installment Galsworthy s story literally leaves the reader hungering for the rest of the story.Why Galsworthy brillantly reveals the strengths and weaknesses of each of the primary players While he exposes Soames arrogance and pride, he also reveals Soames confusion, denial, and disbelief, thereby humanising the otherwise man of property When Irene suggests to Soames the option of dissolving their marriage before they have married, that is, if she is unhappy, one is prompted to read on, carefully, for the clues that explain and support how this might occur.Indeed, this is an oldie but like a fabulous dessert, it is worth the wait.