Comrade Galsworthy

Our university library is very Soviet in its literary tastes. It’s got nothing. There’s one old copy of Jane Eyre. One!

But there are four shelves of John Galsworthy:

For those who don’t know, the English literature ended for the Soviet people with Galsworthy’s work. Nothing happened after him but he was HUGE. It was a big surprise for me that nobody in the English-speaking world knows of him. The Soviet people of my generation and before, though, know his novels by heart. On our first date, N and I debated Galsworthy. I can still quote whole passages.

17 thoughts on “Comrade Galsworthy

    1. He was born too late. Had he been born 50 years earlier, he’d be a recognised classic. His way of writing was already outdated by the time he was born.


  1. To give Galsworthy his due, he was appreciated not only in FSU.

    I bought an old English literature textbook for Israeli high school students at a library sale, and it included a long excerpt from “Indian Summer of a Forsyte” ending with his death.

    Btw, it also included Orwell’s “Shooting an elephant” and Shaw’s play “Devil’s Disciple” which moved me to read all Orwell’s essays and several Shaw’s plays.


      1. \ After Virginia Woolf famously eviscerated him, he was done.

        Was done in whose eyes? Of critics or of readers?

        Where would an average reader find Woolf’s take and why would he care about Woolf? Most readers haven’t read a word of hers. She is very difficult to read (which, of course, doesn’t mean she isn’t great).

        Btw, my first seminar was supposed to be a BA seminar on Woolf, starting with “Mrs Dalloway.”

        I went to the first meeting, was completely horrified both by the professor’s Freudian criticism and by Woolf’s writing, and then immediately switched to a MA seminar on politics, identity and the American subject which was the best seminar I’ve taken during all my studies.

        Still remember trying to read a paragraph on one of the first pages of the novel and beginning to feel my brain was switching off, unable to make sense of the happenings. That paragraph had some sentence, broken parts of which were repeated throughout. Reminded me of poetry… but of unenjoyable and incomprehensible kind.

        I even loaned a Russian copy from the library to check whether it was a language problem. It wasn’t.

        Imagine going to fulfill a dream of learning about English-speaking cultures, history and literature, and the first seminar beginning to be all about ego, ID and “Mrs Dalloway” which may be a great novel but not for me.

        The MA seminar I took instead was about politics in the widest sense of the word, about different changing identities and their reflection in literature. Don’t remember exactly the wording, but I believe you would’ve loved that seminar too. 🙂


      2. At first I was “John who?”, but looking at his wikipedia entry, I’ve at least heard of the Forsyte Saga, even if I haven’t read it.

        After Virginia Woolf famously eviscerated him, he was done.

        It’s funny, the modernists also really hated Anthony Trollope, and were happy that he was headed for the dustbin of history. And yet he’s remained stubbornly popular.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I read only the first tome of the Forsyte Saga (in Russian, the entire saga was published in two thick tomes), but thought that was his best work. Clarissa?

      As for Galsworthy’s way of writing, does it resemble Mann’s “Buddenbrooks” (which I haven’t read)?

      After the first tome of the Forsyte Saga, I became a little tired, and when I tried to read “Buddenbrooks”, the style of writing was also a bit … heavy? tiring? вязкий?


        1. If BLM protesters trashed Nancy Pelosi’s office, I’d join the BLM.

          If they burned Pritzker’s mansion… Even more so. But the BLM only beats and terrorizes the poor to help the rich.

          I feel very misunderstood right now.


  2. He is a Republican from your state:

    “I represent Illinois’ 16th District. It’s an honor to serve in Congress on
    & to serve as a pilot in the Air National Guard.”


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