Galsworthy - to Let

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  • Topic: The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy, Eric Porter
  • Pages : 11 (3772 words )
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  • Published : March 28, 2013
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Ga
John Galsworthy
(1867 — 1933)

TO LET
(1922)

This novel is the last volume of the Forsyte Saga. It marks both the end of the first stage in the development of the Forsytes and the beginning of the second, post-war stage in the chronicles of their doings. That final stage is the subject of Galsworthy's second trilogy, the Modern Comedy, where the younger generation of the Forsytes are depicted against the background of England's post-war decay. In the following extract the novelist holds up to ridicule the decadence of modem art. He puts his ideas into the mouth of Soames Forsyte whom he formerly satirized as the "man of property". Soames's scornful bewilderment at sight of Expressionist paintings renders to a certain degree the feelings of the novelist himself.

CHAPTER I

Encounter

Arriving at the Gallery off Cork Street, however, he paid his shilling, picked up a catalogue, and entered. Some ten persons were prowling round. Soames took steps and came on what looked to him like a lamp-post bent by collision with a motor omnibus. It was advanced some three paces from the wall, and was described in his catalogue as "Jupiter". He examined it with curiosity, having recently turned some of his attention to sculpture. "If that's Jupiter," he thought, "I wonder what Juno's like." And suddenly he saw her, opposite. She appeared to him like nothing so much as a pump with two handles, lightly clad in snow. He was still gazing at her, when two of the prowlers halted on his left. "Epatant"[1] be heard one say. "Jargon!" growled Soames to himself.

The other boyish voice replied:
"Missed it,[2] old bean;[3] he's pulling your leg. When Jove and Juno created he them,[4] he was saying: “I’ll see how much these fools will swallow”. And they’ve lapped up a lot.”[5] “You young duffer[6]! Vospovitch is an innovator. Don’t you see that he’s brought satire into sculpture? The future of plastic art, of music, painting, and even architecture, has set in satiric. It was bound to. People are tired – the bottom’s tumbled out of sentiment.” “Well, I’m quite equal to taking a little interest in beauty. I was through the war. You’ve dropped your handkerchief, sir.” Soames saw a handkerchief held out in front of him. He took it with some natural suspicion, and approached it to his nose. It had the right sent – of distant Eau de Cologne – and his initials in a corner. Slightly reassured, he raised his eyes to the young man’s face. It had rather fawn-like ears, a laughing mouth, with half a toothbrush growing out of it on each side, and small lively eyes above a normally dressed appearance. “Thank you,” he said; and moved by a sort of irritation, added: “Glad to hear you like beauty; that’s rare, nowadays.” “I dote on it,” said the young man; “but you and I are the last of the old guard, sir.” Soames smiled.

“If you really care for pictures,” he said, “here’s my card. I can show you some quite good ones any Sunday, if you’re down the river and care to look in.” “Awfully nice of you, sir. I’ll drop in like a bird[7]. My name’s Mont – Michael.” And he took off his hat. Soames, already regretting his impulse, raised his own slightly in response, with a downward look at the young man’s companion, who had a purple tie, dreadful little sluglike whiskers, and a scornful look – as if he were a poet! It was the first indiscretion he had committed for so long that he went and sat down in an alcove. What had possessed him to give his card to a rackety[8] young fellow, who went about with a thing like that? And Fleur, always at the back of his thoughts, started out like a filigree figure from a clock when the hour strikes. On the screen opposite the alcove was a large canvas with a great many square tomato-coloured blobs on it, and nothing else, so far as Soames could see from where he sat. He looked at his catalogue: "No.32 — 'The Future Town' — Paul...
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