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Authors: John Galsworthy

The Forsyte Saga, Volume 2

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PENGUIN BOOKS

The Forsyte Saga
Volume 2

John Galsworthy, the son of a solicitor, was born in 1867 and educated at Harrow and New College, Oxford. He was called to the Bar in 1890, but a chance meeting with Joseph Conrad, and the strong influence of his future wife, turned him to writing. A collection of short stories,
From the Four Winds
(1897), was followed by a novel entitled
Jocelyn
(1898).
The Man of Property
appeared in 1906 and, together with
In Chancery
and
To Let
, completed the first volume of the Forsyte trilogy,
The Forsyte Saga
, published in 1922. His playwrighting career began in 1906 with
The Silver Box
, the first of a long line of plays with social and moral themes. The second Forsyte trilogy, which contained
The White Monkey, The Silver Spoon
and
Swan Song
, was published as
A Modern Comedy
in 1929. In 1931 Galsworthy followed the immense success of the Forsyte books with a further collection of stories,
On Forsyte‘Change
. The final Forsyte trilogy, containing
Maid in Waiting, Flowering Wilderness
and
Over the River
, was published posthumously as
The End of the Chapter
in 1934. The nine novels in his three Forsyte trilogies are all published by Penguin. A television serial of the Forsyte chronicles, presented by the BBC in 1967, received great critical acclaim in Great Britain and over the world.

The first President of the PEN Club, John Galsworthy was the recipient of several honorary degrees and other literary honours. He was made an OM in 1929 and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932. He lived on Dartmoor for many years and afterwards at Bury on the Sussex Downs. He died in 1933.

John Galsworthy

THE FORSYTE SAGA
Volume 2

THE WHITE MONKEY

THE SILVER SPOON

SWAN SONG

PENGUIN BOOKS

PENGUIN BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London
WC2R 0RL
, England
Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London
WC2R 0RL
, England

www.penguin.com

The White Monkey
first published by William Heinemann Ltd 1924
Published in Penguin Books 1967

The Silver Spoon
first published by William Heinemann Ltd 1926
Published in Penguin Books 1967

Swan Song
first published by William Heinemann Ltd 1928
Published in Penguin Books 1967

These three books (the fourth, fifth and sixth parts of the nine-
volume
Forsyte Chronicles
) published together in Penguin
Books under the title
A Modern Comedy, The Forsyte Chronicles, Vol. 2
1980
Reprinted under the present title in Penguin Classics 2001
12

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject
to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent,
re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without me publisher's
prior consent in any form of binging or cover other than that in
which it is published and without a similar condition including this
condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

EISBN: 978–0–141–90794–9

THE WHITE MONKEY
Contents

Preface

PART ONE

1   
Promenade

2   
Home

3   
Musical

4   
Dining

5   
Eve

6   
‘Old Forsyte' and ‘Old Mont'

7   
‘Old Mont' and ‘Old Forsyte'

8   
Bicket

9   
Confusion

10 
Passing of a Sportsman

11 
Venture

12 
Figures and Facts

13 
Tenterhooks

PART TWO

1   
The Mark Falls

2   
Victorine

3   
Michael Walks and Talks

4   
Fleur's Body

5   
Fleur's Soul

6   
Michael Gets ‘What-for'

7   
‘The Altogether'

8   
Soames Takes the Matter Up

9   
Sleuth

10 
Face

11 
Cocked Hat

12 
Going East

PART THREE

1   
Bank Holiday

2   
Office Work

3   
‘Afternoon of a Dryad'

4   
Afternoon of a Bicket

5   
Michael Gives Advice

6   
Quittance

7   
Looking Into Elderson

8   
Levanted

9   
Soames Doesn't Give a Damn

10 
But Takes No Chances

11 
With a Small ‘n'

12 
Ordeal by Shareholder

13 
Soames at Bay

14 
On the Rack

15 
Calm

TO

Max Beerbobm

PREFACE

I
N
naming this second part of The Forsyte Chronicles ‘A Modern Comedy' the word comedy is stretched, perhaps, as far as the word Saga was stretched to cover the first part. And yet, what but a comedic view can be taken, what but comedic significance gleaned, of so restive a period as that in which we have lived since the war? An Age which knows not what it wants, yet is intensely preoccupied with getting it, must evoke a smile, if rather a sad one.

To render the forms and colours of an epoch is beyond the powers of any novelist, and very far beyond the powers of this novelist; but to try and express a little of its spirit was undoubtedly at the back of his mind in penning this trilogy. Like the Irishman's chicken, our Present runs about so fast that it cannot be summed up; it can at most be snapshotted while it hurries looking for its Future without notion where, what, or when that Future will be.

The England of 1886, when the Forsyte Saga began, also had no Future, for England then expected its Present to endure, and rode its bicycle in a sort of dream, disturbed only by two bogles – Mr Gladstone and the Irish Members.

The England of 1926 – when the Modern Comedy closes – with one foot in the air and the other in a Morris Oxford, is going round and round like a kitten after its tail, muttering: ‘If one could only see where one wants to stop!'

Everything being now relative, there is no longer absolute dependence to be placed on God, Free Trade, Marriage, Consols, Coal, or Caste.

Everywhere being now overcrowded, there is no place where
anyone can stay for long, except the mere depopulated countryside, admittedly too dull, and certainly too unprofitable to dwell in.

Everyone, having been in an earthquake which lasted four years, has lost the habit of standing still.

And yet, the English character has changed very little, if at all. The General Strike of 1926, with which the last part of this trilogy begins, supplied proof of that. We are still a people that cannot be rushed, distrustful of extremes, saved by the grace of our defensive humour, well-tempered, resentful of interference, improvident and wasteful, but endowed with a certain genius for recovery. If we believe in nothing much else, we still be lieve in ourselves. That salient characteristic of the English will bear thinking about Why, for instance, do we continually run ourselves down? Simply because we have not got the inferiority complex and are indifferent to what other people think of us. No people in the world seems openly less sure of itself; no people is secretly more sure. Incidentally, it might be worth the while of those who own certain public mouths inclined to blow the British trumpet to remember, that the blowing of one's own trumpet is the insidious beginning of the inferiority complex. Only those strong enough to keep silent about self are strong enough to be sure of self. The epoch we are passing through is one which favours misjudgement of the English character, and of the position of England. There never was a country where real deterioration of human fibre had less chance than in this island, because there is no other country whose climate is so changeable, so tempering to character, so formative of grit, and so basically healthy. What follows in this preface should be read in the light of that remark.

In the present epoch, no Early Victorianism survives. By Early Victorianism is meant that of the old Forsytes, already on the wane in 1886; what has survived, and potently, is the Victorianism of Soames and his generation, more self-conscious, but not sufficiently self-conscious to be either self-destructive or self-forgetful. It is against the background of this more or less fixed quantity that we can best see the shape and colour of the
present intensely self-conscious and all-questioning generation. The old Forsytes – Old Jolyon, Swithin and James, Roger, Nicholas and Timothy – lived their lives without ever asking whether life was worth living. They found it interesting, very absorbing from day to day, and even if they had no very intimate belief in a future life, they had very great faith in the progress of their own positions, and in laying up treasure for their children. Then came Young Jolyon and Soames and their contemporaries, who, although they had imbibed, with Darwinism and the 'Varsities, definite doubts about a future life, and sufficient introspection to wonder whether they themselves were progressing, retained their sense of property and their desire to provide for, and to live on in their progeny. The generation which came in when Queen Victoria went out, through new ideas about the treatment of children, because of new modes of locomotion, and owing to the Great War, has decided that everything requires re-valuation. And, since there is, seemingly, very little future before property, and less before life, is determined to live now or never, without bothering about the fate of such offspring as it may chance to have. Not that the present generation is less fond of its children than were past generations – human nature does not change on points so elementary – but when everything is keyed to such a pitch of uncertainty, to secure the future at the expense of the present no longer seems worth while.

BOOK: The Forsyte Saga, Volume 2
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