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John Galsworthy (14 August 1867 – 31 January 1933)

In quoting David Cecil last week about Agatha Christie, it was brought home to me quite clearly that I had omitted previously in this series the writer he had noted first as being amongst the most distinguished of his generation.  Reflecting on my motive for this, I realized that it was essentially laziness, an unwillingness to read again through a text before I began writing.

For all the writers I had covered previously, memory has been sufficient, supplemented on occasion by reference to a particular work. But in Galsworthy’s case I realized I had forgotten almost everything about his work, save only the highlight of the first novel in his epic series ‘The Forsyte Saga’. This was sad, because I remember having been quite impressed with all his work, when I first read him.

That had been at the behest of my great aunt Ida, who much loved the British and had worried in the sixties that I knew nothing of the writers of her youth. Earlier my father, disappointed that my voracious reading was confined to Enid Blyton and C S Lewis and suchlike, had drawn attention to my lack of interest in Shakespeare and the Victorians. A determination to prove him wrong soon became a pleasurable obsession, and these then became the staples of my teens – except indeed for Dickens, whose joys I only properly understood nearly a decade later. But in those early years I had found Galsworthy also fun, reading him from cover to cover in the old Government Agent’s Lodge in Kandy, so much so that, a few years later, thinking about my doctoral thesis, I had contemplated a comparison of his epics and those of Trollope.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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