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(Unless stated otherwise, all text & pictures are © Lee Labuschagne, all rights reserved.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

1+1+1 for 365, day 21: A really long saga - but a good one

"Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem." - John Galsworthy

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

John Galsworthy, who was among the first widely read authors of the Edwardian era, published the first book in The Forsyte Saga (A Man of Property) in 1906, while and the others followed between 1918 and 1921.  The books that make up the sequel, A Modern Comedy, followed between 1924 and 1928 and  the last book of The End of the Chapter, the second series of sequels, was published posthumosly in 1933.  Thus it took almost 30 years - a whole generation of reading - for this remarkable example of a family saga to reach the bookshelves.

Many people have probably only read The Forsyte Saga and not the two sequels. My one collected volume includes that and A Modern Comedy. But irrespective of how much you read of it, it remains a family tale told well that reflects the values of an upper-middle class English family coming to terms with the changes in the world around them. 

Anyone who thinks of writing a long family story will do well to read these books - there may be lots to read, but it is not boring. It is not for those who expect lots of mysterious twists and turns or violent action. But it contains enough drama and family intrigue to keep you interested even a century after the first book in this long series was published and you can't help but be fascinated with his characters and their stories. 

Perhaps it is because, irrespective of the times, he is telling stories that we know from our own lives and family histories or read about in the media. Although his examination of the changing times that influence his characters is not as comprehensive as it could perhaps have been, I've always reminded myselt that his main focus was the family story and responses to their society and therefore the changes and awakenings of a changed moral code and attitudes to the world around them.  As in life, those reactions are not always neat and tidy and as we do not always understand our world and how it is changing. Some of his characters understand things better than others; some react well to change, while others remain blind to realities around them.  Sometimes you want to wave a finger at them or shake your head in frustration, but always the enfolding of the long saga remains a worthwhile read.  

Galsworthy, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932, shortly before his death (he was already too ill to receive the prize in person), was originally better known as playwright and continued to write plays, essays and poetry throughout his life.

I've always felt that Galsworthy brings his talent as playwright into the dialogue and sense of timing in his novels. Perhaps that in part is why I also enjoyed listening to his words on tape. The Forsyte Saga has been made into various adaptations for television  and the big screen and has been recorded on audio book.  Although I have also read the books, I particularly enjoyed the unabridged audio book version, because it allows you to sit back, relax and let the words and the story take hold of your imagination.  I listened, as I always do, to the books in the car, while busy in the kitchen, relaxing in the bath or busy with craft projects.  Rather delicious. 


A perfect day for windsurfing in Table Bay.  I took this picture some time ago on a weekend when the wind was just right.  One would have thought there was some competition going on, but in fact it was just a case of conditions being perfect.  I counted 40 or more windsurfers from this point at Table View and a similar number a little way up the coast at Blaauwberg with many more in-between. At the same time the colour of the ocean was beautiful and I was glad I had taken along my camera when I went to meet a friend for coffee at Blaauwberg.
Picture & text: © Lee Labuschagne - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

1 comment:

  1. I've been thinking about getting into a nice long story. Maybe this is it. Thanks!



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