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2013 Group Reads - Archives > The Forsyte Saga - Background and Resources

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message 1: by Silver (new)

Silver Please post any additional background information about the book and or author you think may prove interesting or helpful to our discussion. Please post spoiler warners where appropriate.


message 2: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 12, 2013 02:00AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments This is a nice short piece on Galsworthy, who gained the Nobel Prize for Literature:-

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prize...

And online-literature.com has another short biog as well as a searchable Forsyte Saga and other books:-

http://www.online-literature.com/john...

Galsworthy and his wife lived in an upmarket part of north London called Hampstead, now known as Hampstead Garden Suburb, and descriptions in the Saga are descriptions of the area around Hampstead Heath as it was then and which includes Parliament Hill, the highest (and healthiest) point in London:

'And those Sunday afternoons on Hampstead Heath, when young Jolyon and he went for a stretch along the Spaniard's Road to Highgate, to Child's Hill, and back over the Heath again to dine at Jack Straw's Castle...' (Part I Chapter 1)

http://www.hampsteadheath.net/jack-st...

And from Chapter 35:-

'There are, say moralists, roads that lead to Hell, but it was on a road that leads to Hampstead that the two young cyclists set forth towards eleven o'clock. The difference between the character of the two destinations was soon apparent, for whereas man taken in bulk had perhaps made Hell, Hampstead had obviously been made by the upper classes.'

Another famous pub near the heath and the reputed haunt of highwaymen was The Spaniards on Spaniards Hill (a bit downmarket for Soames perhaps):-

http://www.thespaniardshampstead.co.uk/

(I frequented both of these pubs in my youf, when I lived near to Hampstead:))

Hampstead has long been the haunt of established authors and artists. Galsworthy's home was Grove Lodge/Admiral's House, which has an interesting history and was painted by John Constable:-

http://www.perfumefromprovence.com/Ad...

http://www.hampsteadheath.net/


message 3: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 14, 2013 09:05AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments So there are 9 novels, not 3. Are the other 6 ever read?

I wonder how Winifred felt about her husband's naming one of his characters after her.


message 4: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I think only 3 were serialised.

BTW don't read the PREFACE as it contains a lot of SPOILERS!


message 5: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 14, 2013 12:07PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments I just heard Hilary Mantel being interviewed on NPR. She avowed that although her books are technically novels, she has invented as little as possible. Has anyone read Wolf Hall or Bring up the Bodies?


message 6: by Silver (new)

Silver Rochelle wrote: "I just heard Hilary Mantel being interviewed on NPR. She avowed that although the books are technically novels, she has invented as little as possible. Has anyone read Wolf Hall or Bring up the Bod..."

I have read Wolf Hall. I have to admit I had mixed feelings about it. I am to say the least not one of those people who completely fell in love with it, and rave about it. But I did not altogether dislike it, but the narrative style didn't completely work for me.

I am undecided if I want to read Bring up the Bodies or not.


message 7: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder I read Wolf Hall several years ago. Even though I love the time period she wrote about, I thought the author had an arrogant way of writing. Almost everyone was named Thomas and Mantel would have two Thomas' in a conversation and would not identify which Thomas was talking. She used pronouns indiscriminately, not to help the reader, but to create confusion. It was one of the worst books I read that year. Even though I hear that Bring up the Bodies is better, I will not read anything else written by her.


message 8: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments I listened to and probably partially read Wolf Hall. It was interesting to me to hear stories of that period told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell. I do think it is not a particularly easy read in which to keep everything straight, but I rather let it just wash over me, rather than probe it for everything Mantel included. I'd be willing to read it or re-listen someday after reading a good history of the period.


message 9: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 14, 2013 12:08PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments Oops, I put this in the wrong forum.::hides head and funny hat in shame.::

Emily, it sounds like bad editing. That should have been caught.


message 10: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments Lily wrote: "I listened to and probably partially read Wolf Hall. It was interesting to me to hear stories of that period told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell. I do think it is not a particularly easy ..."

And the next one ends with the beheading of Cromwell. Nicely symmetric series.


message 11: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I'd be willing to read it or re-listen someday after reading a good history of the period.

This period is a political and religious minefield and more than one history would be needed! Some historians write from a catholic perspective which is totally hostile to Henry VIII (who personally remained a catholic) and others write from a Protestant/Lutheran one which is more sympathetic to him, Ann Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell. Ann Boleyn's role has been played down in earlier histories but is well worth exploring now that more is known:-

http://thebullen.blogspot.co.uk/2010/...

Henry is usually blamed for the sacking of the monasteries but this was at the instigation of Wolsey with Cromwell as Chancellor of the Exchequer seeking to raise money for the crown. It suited Cromwell's Lutheran beliefs, which were very strong. Henry gave a third of the income raised to provide good pensions to the abbots, monks and nuns who lost their livelihoods.

Politically, the separation of England from papal influence meant that future rulers had to look beyond catholic Europe to trade and this gave rise to the largest Empire the world had ever seen and led to the financial and political standing in the world the UK has today, even without the Empire. So Henry VIII definitely was not all bad IMO:)


message 12: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments A period of some incredibly strong and powerful men (and women) who dared act on their powers, sometimes consciously and sometimes simply because subsumed in the vortex, and who drastically influenced the world in which we live.


message 13: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments MadgeUK wrote: "I think only 3 were serialised.

BTW don't read the PREFACE as it contains a lot of SPOILERS!"


I've seen the recent series on TV, so nothing can spoil me. :-)


message 14: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 14, 2013 05:28PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments MadgeUK wrote: " I'd be willing to read it or re-listen someday after reading a good history of the period.

This period is a political and religious minefield and more than one history would be needed! Some hist..."


I can read it without knowing every detail of the history beforehand. I know Mantel researched thoroughly.


message 15: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Rochelle wrote: "I can read it without knowing every detail of the history beforehand. I know Mantel researched thoroughly...."

My problem, in listening to it, at least, was that I couldn't keep even some of the major figures in their appropriate historic roles, like Wolsey and Cromwell, let alone the surrounding secondary characters! I know Mantel is respected for doing her homework (research), and the story listened that way. But the political machinations I wasn't able to follow completely satisfactorily to myself.


message 16: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 15, 2013 01:42AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Research does not necessarily show the slant which may have been put upon the history. Hilary Mantel was brought up as a catholic and had a catholic education at a convent. This will have affected her writing even though she subsequently turned her back on catholicism:-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfr...


message 17: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments I'm ready to start reading The FS. Can we have schedule soon, so I don't get too far ahead?


message 18: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 15, 2013 01:20PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments Lily wrote: "Rochelle wrote: "I can read it without knowing every detail of the history beforehand. I know Mantel researched thoroughly...."

My problem, in listening to it, at least, was that I couldn't keep e..."


I can't follow modern political stories either, so I might not notice. :-)


message 19: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder Rochelle wrote: "I'm ready to start reading The FS. Can we have schedule soon, so I don't get too far ahead?"


The reading schedule has already been posted. It is in the following thread.


http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...


message 20: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4417 comments Mod
Rochelle wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "I think only 3 were serialised.

BTW don't read the PREFACE as it contains a lot of SPOILERS!"

I've seen the recent series on TV, so nothing can spoil me. :-)"


Thanks for the warning.


message 21: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments Rochelle wrote: "I just heard Hilary Mantel being interviewed on NPR. She avowed that although her books are technically novels, she has invented as little as possible. Has anyone read Wolf Hall or Bring up the Bod..."

I've read both and I absolutely adored them. I think Mantel is such a good writer that I'd read her shopping list. Even better than these two books, in my opinion, is her French Revolution novel, A Place of Greater Safety. But she's not an easy writer. She doesn't spoonfeed readers and she doesn't do any of that "As you know, Bob" or "Your father, the King" stuff which so often turns up in historial fiction. You have to do some of your own research if you're not familiar with the history, so I made great use of the internet for additional information as I was reading her novels.


message 22: by msleighm (new)

msleighm Silver wrote: "I have read Wolf Hall. I have to admit I had mixed feelings about it. I am to say the least not one of those people who completely fell in love with it, and rave about it. But I did not altogether dislike it, but the narrative style didn't completely work for me."

I completely agree with Silver. I probably gave it 4 stars, would have been 3.5 if I could have. The research is undoubtably good; the writing, the only word I can think of is choppy. I will read the sequel, because that's what I do. She seems to be going for something that's not traditional historical fiction, however doesn't meet the standards of Thomas Levenson or Tony Horwitz.


message 23: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 1960 comments Mod
I love what Kim said about "As you know, Bob". I read a lot of historical fiction and I really dislike it when the exposition is awkward. I call it "Tell us about the history of this region, Professor", which sometimes occurs in popular authors like James Michener. This was why I couldn't read far in Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. I thought he was trying too hard to work historical events into the dialogue.

I enjoyed the fact that Mantel doesn't tell you anything, just throws you in the deep end. However, it did take me about 2 months to read through Wolf Hall, and a very intellectual friend of mine couldn't even finish it. I've heard the sequel is more linear but haven't read it yet. I have read 1 or 2 other novels by her, not historical ones, I'll definitely look for the French revolution one.


message 24: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 21, 2013 02:54AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Back to the Forsyte Saga. (I wonder if Mantel's books would be good Buddy reads?)

Nice pic of a Forsyte type Drawing Room here and a link to a preserved Victorian house:-

http://www.bookdrum.com/books/the-for...

I had a couple of wealthy aunts who furnished like this and I hated visiting them - their homes were so overcrowded and stuffy:( I prefer the the elegance of the Georgian period.


message 25: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments I found a Forsyte family tree which can be downloaded and printed. Use with caution, though, as it could be regarded as containing spoilers.


message 26: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 22, 2013 10:29AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments Kim wrote: "I found a Forsyte family tree which can be downloaded and printed. Use with caution, though, as it could be regarded as containing spoilers."

Good try, but the resolution is too low, and it won't fit on 8 1/2 x 11 paper anyway. Anyone have others?


message 28: by Kim (last edited Jun 22, 2013 10:37PM) (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments Rochelle wrote: "Good try, but the resolution is too low, a..."

I selected the original size photograph and it printed out fine on A4 paper. While the text is small, it's legible. But then again, my close-up vision is good, even if my distance vision is terrible!

ETA: You can download the orginal size by right-clicking on the image.


message 29: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Are these any better:-

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/f...

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/f..."


The problem with those ones, Madge, is that they don't include all of the family. I haven't seen the television adaptation(s) but it looks like they cut down on the number of Forsyte siblings and kiddies.


message 30: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 22, 2013 10:50PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments Kim wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Are these any better:-

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/f...

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/f...""


I guess you can pencil in the kids as they appear. And they are on the next page, Series II


message 31: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments From http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/f...

(This does have story clues, so avoid if you don't want to know.)

(view spoiler)

This part should be free of plot clues:

(view spoiler)


message 32: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 23, 2013 07:15AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments Lily wrote: "From http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/f...

(This does have story clues, so avoid if you don't want to know.)"




I've seen the 2002 series (has it really been 10 years?)and it's not so complicated as it looks. Most of the first generation doesn't really figure in the plot, except as commentators on the action. New characters are added in the course of 3 books, which is slowly enough to remember them.

And since when does knowing the "spoilers" affect the reading of a classic?


message 33: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments It certainly never spoils my reading as I like to know as much as I can about a novel, its background and author etc etc before I start to read it and the more I know, the more I enjoy it.


message 34: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 23, 2013 07:59AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments OK, people, I've consolidated Madge's 3 trees into 2 trees, large and clear enough to print in landscape mode, and put them in my photo album. You won't need the 2nd one for quite some time.

https://picasaweb.google.com/Foxy0151...

and

https://picasaweb.google.com/Foxy0151...


message 35: by Linda2 (last edited Jun 23, 2013 07:58AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments As a special treat ;-), I've included this comment on Wikipedia. I don't see a zoom button, so use your wheel+CTRL.

https://picasaweb.google.com/Foxy0151...


message 36: by msleighm (new)

msleighm Rochelle, thank you for the family trees!


message 37: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 22, 2013 06:21AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments I have too much going on in my life right now, and I can't get through the books. After about a month, I'm only 60 pages into the first. I've settled for the TV series at Youtube I cited above.


message 38: by MaryJane (new)

MaryJane Brodeck (maryjanebrodeck) Rochelle wrote: "OK, people, I've consolidated Madge's 3 trees into 2 trees, large and clear enough to print in landscape mode, and put them in my photo album. You won't need the 2nd one for quite some time.

http..."

Rochelle,

Thanks for taking the time to post links for the family trees. I'm a visual learner, so this is very helpful for me.
MaryJane :)


message 39: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 27, 2013 07:32AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments If anyone else is looking for the 2002-03 series on Youtube I cited above, it's been pulled for copyright violation. Every.one.of.the.episodes. :-( Innumerable clips from other users remain.


message 40: by Kirk (new)

Kirk I read all these novels years ago, and have reread the first 6 twice. The 2002 series is available on Netflix; I saw it on PBS when it first came out, but I've never seen the original B&W series.


message 41: by Linda2 (last edited Aug 01, 2013 07:52AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments What's wrong with the democracy we call the Internet. I can't even tell you how I found this, probably surfing around on a boring day:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY9zQw...

I turned it off after she placed the story in the 18th Century.


message 42: by Linda2 (last edited Aug 01, 2013 08:18AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments What's wrong with the democracy we call the Internet, Part II--one of a series of unintelligible videos, not on Youtube, but at my weather site:

http://www.wunderground.com/video?vid...

Remember when Tex Antoine was fired and had his career ended for making a bad joke about rape? But do you also remember how clever and entertaining his work was, and how thoroughly he knew his weather?


message 43: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder My, you must be bored today!


message 44: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments Yeah, and it's only 11:30. But I've vented, and I feel better. If I knew how, I could compose an entire website called "What's Wrong with the Internet."

Having lost the free videos, I'm also slogging through A Man of Property too, with about 2/3 done. I read it in college, but that was about,um,45 years ago. But we never read the rest, as the course wasn't long enough.


message 45: by Linda2 (last edited Aug 07, 2013 10:54AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments We've had some background on Galsworthy. Has anyone come across analysis of the novels themselves that's worth reading? The pickings in my research have been very slim.


message 46: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Rochelle wrote: "We've had some background on Galsworthy. Has anyone come across analysis of the novels themselves that's worth reading?"

Haven't looked for any. For the Web, I frequently start with an advanced Google search on the .edu domain.


message 47: by Linda2 (last edited Aug 07, 2013 11:33AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments Lily wrote: "Rochelle wrote: "We've had some background on Galsworthy. Has anyone come across analysis of the novels themselves that's worth reading?"

Haven't looked for any. For the Web, I frequently start w..."


Thanks. I'm trying to discover why G never places us inside the head of one of his primary characters.

Incidentally, I just read that Irene was 19, almost a child, at the start of AMofP. That puts her in a diff light for me.


message 48: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments I don't see where Google lets you specify a domain. I think that went out with their new interface.


message 49: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Rochelle wrote: "I don't see where Google lets you specify a domain. I think that went out with their new interface."

There is a Master's Thesis here, which for some reason I am mucking up opening right now. It is on: Galsworthy's presentation of Irene in The Forsyte Saga, and her importance

http://open.bu.edu/xmlui/handle/2144/...

Found it by searching for "Galsworthy Forsythe Saga" and then choosing "Advanced Search" at the bottom of the page and specifying domain in the window that opens then. Seems to be a bit more awkward to get to "advanced search," but it is still there.


message 50: by Linda2 (last edited Aug 14, 2013 07:18AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3732 comments Got it! Will get back to you after I read the 97 pages.

Instead of just opening it in Firefox, I downloaded it. The file is Kimball_1940_web.pdf


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