Jim Grimsley's Reviews > The Man of Property

The Man of Property by John Galsworthy
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I do appreciate the quality of the writing, especially its careful choice of sentences that reveal moments that in their turn resonate in several directions. Compared to Victorian writers, Galsworthy shows a masterful elegance in his constructions. He is not quite able to avoid the need to speechify from time to time, and this is a step down in the writing for me; his speeches are more conventional than his observations and feel uninspired. When he writes knowingly of love, his writing reaches its weakest point; as opposed to the passages when he writes narratively of love, which are among his best. It is as if he hovers at the edge of a modern voice but cannot quite leave off the nineteenth century. Though one should be skeptical of ideas of modernity in writing. His Forsytes are enigmatical, prosaic, untrustworthy, frugal, proud; they are a family drawn to be examined, and the mass of them is, at times, overwhelming. Like many people, I come to this book having seen the television version of the saga, not the classic 1960s version but the second adaptation, which was also quite fine. So the cast of characters was already familiar to me, for the most part; though it was a delight in the book to see the full array of Forsytes, including Timothy and Swithin and Frances the songwriter, who is one of the more vivid of the younger set. Her curious hovering between art and commerce is a gem of writing. There is nothing to complain of here except that the writer drubs us with the word "Forsyte" over and over, insisting on reminding us to see them as a type, a class, a moral lesson, and such. One gets the message and then the book goes on tapping it out till my poor head was sore and I winced at most readings of the name. But I was struck to read that Galsworthy won a Nobel prize for his long preoccupation with this family. When I think of the British writers whom he had as contemporaries, I am amazed that he was the one to achieve the laurel. Will leave it at that. The work is quite fine but I cannot tell how well I admire it, given that I encountered it first as well-done television. The story is not fresh to me because of that, spoiling the effect. I wish had read the novels first.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 13, 2020 – Shelved

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