Quotes by John Galsworthy
If you do not think about the future, you cannot have one.
When Man evolved Pity, he did a queer thing — deprived himself of the power of living life as it is without wishing it to become something different.
Public opinion's always in advance of the law.
Love! Beyond measure — beyond death — it nearly kills. But one wouldn't have been without it.
Summer — summer — summer! The soundless footsteps on the grass!
I don't know much about morality and that, but there is this: It's always worth while before you do anything to consider whether it's going to hurt another person more than is absolutely necessary.
A man of action forced into a state of thought is unhappy until he can get out of it.
Love of beauty is really only the sex instinct, which nothing but complete union satisfies.
There's just one rule for politicians all over the world: Don't say in Power what you say in Opposition; if you do, you only have to carry out what the other fellows have found impossible.
Justice is a machine that, when someone has once given it the starting push, rolls on of itself.
The value of a sentiment is the amount of sacrifice you are prepared to make for it.
The world's a fine place for those who go out to take it; there's lots of unknown stuff' in it yet. I'll fill your lap, my pretty, so full of treasures that you shan't know yourself. A man wasn't meant to sit at home...
It isn't enough to love people because they're good to you, or because in some way or other you're going to get something by it. We have to love because we love loving.
One's eyes are what one is, one's mouth what one becomes.
Life was to be lived — not torpidly dozed through in this queer cultured place, where age was in the blood! Life was for love — to be enjoyed!
John Galsworthy's Biography
English novelist and playwright, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932. Galsworthy became known for his portrayal of the British upper middle class and for his social satire. His most famous work is THE FORSYTE SAGA (1906-1921), an English parallel to Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks (1901). Galsworthy was a representative of the literary tradition, which has regarded the novel as an instrument of social debate. He believed that it was the duty of an artist to examine a problem, but not to provide a solution. Before starting his career as a writer, Galsworthy read widely the works of Kipling, Zola, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Flaubert.

John Galsworthy was born in Kingston Hill, Surrey, into a upper-middle-class family. His father, John Galsworthy, was a lawyer and director of several companies. Galsworthy's mother, the former Blanche Bartleet, was the daughter of a Midlands manufacturer. Galsworthy studied law Harrow and New Collage, Oxford. During this period he gained fame as a cricket and football player, but not with his writings. Once he planned to write a study of warm-blooded horses. Galsworthy's favorite authors were Thackeray, Dickens, and Melville, his favorite composer was Beethoven. In 1890 he was called to the bar. However, he never settled into practice, but chose to travel, after an unlucky love affair.

In 1893 Galsworty met the writer Joseph Conrad while on a South Sea voyage, which he made in part to study maritime law. In a letter he 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 Galsworthy to give up law and devote himself entirely to writing. Years later Galsworthy helped Conrad financially.

Galsworthy's first four books were published at his own expense under the pseudonym John Sinjohn, the first being a collection of short stories, FROM THE FOUR WINDS (1897). After reading Maupassant and Turgenev, Galsworthy published VILLA RUBEIN (1900), in which he started to find his own voice. These early efforts, written under the influence of Kipling and Russian novelists, he later labelled as heavy and exaggerated. THE ISLAND PHARISEES (1904) was the first book which came out under his own name. Galsworthy wrote it originally in the first person, then in the third, and revised it again. Its final version was not finished until 1908.

With the death of his father in 1904, Galsworthy became financially independent and could devote himself for a period to the sports of shooting and racing. "I gave up shooting because it got on my nerves", Galsworthy later said. In 1905 he married Ada Person Cooper. Galsworthy had lived in secret with her for ten years, because he did not want to cause distress to his father, who would not approve the relationship. Ada Person inspired many of Galsworthy's female characters. Her previous unhappy marriage with Galsworthy's cousin formed the basis for the novel THE MAN OF PROPERTY (1906), which began the novel sequence to be known as The Forsyte Saga and established Galsworthy's reputation as a major British writer.

The first appearance of the Forsyte family was in one of stories in MAN OF DEVON (1901). The saga follows the lives of three generations of the British middle-class before 1914. Soames Forsyte was modelled after Arthur Galsworthy, the writer's cousin. Soames is married to beautiful and rebellious Irene. The incident, when Soames rapes his wife, was supposedly based on Ada Galsworthy's experience with her former husband Arthur. In the second volume, IN CHANGERY (1920), Irene and Soames divorce, she marries Jolyon Forsyte, Soames's cousin, and bears a son, Jon. Soames and his second wife, Annette Lamotte, have a daughter, Fleur. In the third volume, TO LET (1921), Fleur and Jon fall in love, but Jon refuses to marry her. The second part of Forsyte chronicles, containig THE WHITE MONKEY (1924), THE SILVER SPOON (1926), SWAN SONG (1928), starts on an October afternoon of 1922 and closes in 1926. 'A Silent Wooing' and 'Passers By', the two interludes, came out in 1927. Galsworthy returned again to the world of the Forsyte books in 1931 with a further collection of stories, ON FORSYTE CHANGE. Romain Rolland, the writer of Jean-Christophe (1904-1912), coined a special term, the roman-fleuve, to descibe this kind of series of novels, which can be read separately, but which form a coherent narrative. Another example of the genre from the interwar years is Martin du Gard's Les Thibaults (1922-1940).

Although Galsworthy chronicled changes in the middle-class family in England, he said in the preface of The White Monkey, that the English character had changed very little since the Victorianism of Soames and his generation. "He emerged still thinking about the English. Well! They were now one of the plainest and most distorted races of the world; and yet was there any race to compare with them for good temper and for 'guts'? And they needed those in their smoky towns, and their climate - remarkable instance of adaptation to environment, the modern English character! 'I could pick out an Englishman anywhere,' he thought, ' and yet, physically, there's no general type now!' Astounding people!"

Galsworthy also gained recognition as a dramatist with his plays, that dealt directly with the unequal division of wealth and the unfair treatment of poor people. THE SILVER BOX (1906) stated that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor, STRIFE (prod. in 1909), depicted a mining strike, and JUSTICE (prod. in 1910) encouraged the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, in his program for prison reform. Later plays include THE SKIN GAME (1920), filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1931, LOYALTIES (1922), dealing with the theme of anti-Semitism, and ESCAPE (1926), filmed second time in 1948 by 20th. Century-Fox, starring Rex Harrison. In the story a law-abiding man meets a prostitute and accidentally kills a police in defending her. He escapes from prison, and meets different people before giving himself up.

During World War I Galsworthy tried to enlist in the army, but he was rejected due to his shortsightedness. In France he worked for the Red Cross, and helped refugees in Belgium. Galsworthy refused knighthood in 1917 in the belief that writers should not accept titles. He also gave away at least half of his income to humanitarian causes. In 1924 Galsworthy founded PEN, the international organization of writers, with Catherine Dawson Scott. Its trust fund was financed by his Nobel Prize money. The organization was named PEN when someone pointed out at the first meeting that the initial letters on poet, essayist and novelist were the same in most European languages.

John Galsworthy died on January 31, 1933. He produced 20 novels, 27 plays, 3 collections of poetry, 173 short stories, 5 collections of essays, 700 letters, and many sketches and miscellaneous works. After his death, his reputation declined. Galsworthy's socially committed work was attacked by D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. who said in her essay 'Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown', that the Edwardian writers "developed a technique of novel-writing which suits their purpose. . . But those tools are not our tools, and that business is not our business." The younger generation of writers accused Galsworthy of being thoroughly embodied the values he was supposed to be criticizing. According to some biographers Galsworthy, a "decent chap" of his times, was dominated by his wife who was atrocious and hypochondriac. On the other hand, his influence is seen in the works of Thomas Mann, and he was widely read in France and in Russia. The Forsyte Saga gained a huge popular success as a BBC television series in 1967.


Some rights reserved Petri Liukkonen (author) & Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken kaupunginkirjasto 2008


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