"The Forsyte Saga" by John Galsworthy_
The extract under the title is taken from the trilogy УThe Forsyte SagaФ written by the English novelist and playwright, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932 John Galsworthy. 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.
The extract under the study begins with the description of the protagonist Ц Mr. Jolyon. He feels bad and stays at bed, hiding from the light. But when with lunch he gets the telegram from Irene saying that she comes back, he feels excited and is looking forward to seeing her as earlier as possible. In order to meet her, he leaves his room without somebodyТs knowledge and intends to wait her in the coppice, but the heat outside forces him to sit under the oak tree and wait just there. He admires the beauty of the nature, the allure of summer and gradually becomes asleep. Later his faithful dog notices that its master has gone, fallen in the eternal sleep.
While reading the extract some unusual items strike the eye. The first thing we should pay our attention at is the inner condition of the character. We see that in the beginning of the extract he is rather sick and weak, a hopeless old man: УHe spent the morning languidly with the sun-blinds downЕФ
After reading IreneТs telegram, however, he transforms so quickly and easily, as if never being ill: УComing down! After all! Then she did exist Ц and he was not deserted. Coming down! A glow ran through his limbs; his cheeks and forehead felt hot. Е Coming down! His heart beat fast, and then did not seem to beat at all.Ф
New bright colors of inspiration and excitement start playing in his heart. His imagination draws clear and vivid pictures of IreneТs appearance in their place. Suddenly he feels as if much younger. He wishes he were much younger. How many things he could do then, how many mistakes he could avoid thenЕ
The second curious thing captivating our mind concerns the whole extract itself. I guess one canТt help noticing that the author informs us of the death while illustrating the beauty, the loveliness of the summer, of the nature, of everything around. In fact, death is a horrible and awful notion for most human beings. What we observe here Ц the author rejects this common idea and demonstrates the last way of the man in a fascinating, extraordinary manner, avoiding all unpleasant and sorrowful words. This can be the evidence of his pleasing and worthy life. To some extent this can as well prove his being good to others.
In order to express those feelings of Mr. Jolyon, to demonstrate those views one never would have noticed Galsworthy makes use of the certain stylistic devices assisting him to convey gorgeousness of the situation.
LetТs have a look at them. In the first instance, the neat epithets Уburning afternoonФ and Уdelicious surge of slumberФ clearing how exasperating the heat was, bereaving his strength, and explaining to us the heroТs flaccidity and weariness are worth of our observing them.
Besides, exquisite metaphors provide the extract with magnetism and magnificence: Уa violet-grey figure passing over the daisies and dandelions and СsoldiersТ on the lawnЧthe soldiers with their flowery crownsФ, УAnd he was happyЧhappy as a sand-boy, whatever that might be.Ф
The case of personification completely astonishes the reader: УA ray of sunlight struck through and lodged on his boot.Ф
The doubled case of exciting reversed parallel construction, chiasmus, even rouses the readerТs sympathy to the personage: УThey were excitedЧbusy, as his heart was busy and excited. Drowsy, too, drowsy and drugged on honey and happiness; as his heart was drugged and drowsy.Ф
The parallel construction underlines his sudden emotions and observations: УWhat a revel of bright minutes! What a hum of insects, and cooing of pigeons! It was the quintessence of a summer day. Lovely!Ф The pleasurable expectance makes him notice every little movement around. This is also proved by the repetition: Уpassing over the daisies and dandelions and СsoldiersТФ.
The other repetition marks the fidelity of the animal to the master: Уand that dog would lick her hand. That dog knew his master was fond of her; that dog was a good dog.Ф No wonder it was the one discovering Mr. JolyonТs death.
Once we come across the protagonistТs stream of consciousness: УAh! that was why there was such a racket of bees!...Ф It continues the theme of adoration and observation.
Not once reading the extract we come across the authorТs exclamations: УSummerЦsummerЦsummer!Ф
Perhaps Galsworthy exposes it deliberately as if revealing that in any other season the death wouldnТt be hidden in the glamour and beauty as in the summer.
If to speak about the text itself, one should mention that itТs told in the 3rd person narrative. The narration is richly interlaced with descriptive passages. The prevailing slant of the extract is very optimistic and emotional. The composition of the story is not complicated, though itТs not a fast moving one. The climax comes when the dog, Balthasar, notices the master doesn't budge any more.
All in all, the protagonist enjoys all the sympathy of the reader. We feel it and we canТt help agreeing the author. The fragment made a great move in my heart and the authorТs style and language impressed me extremely. I still see the image of the old man sitting under the oak tree and I believe he was a happy one.
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