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Thread: Forsyte Saga

  1. #16
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    The second part of the newer series covers To Let and nothing else. There's some "creativity" on the part of the script writers, who invent a first meeting between 9-year-old Jon and 9-year-old Fleur at Aunt Hester's birthday party. Interesting, but not what Galsworthy wrote! It's implied, too, that Winifred has a big crush on Prosper Profond and is therefore hurt when he takes up with Annette....another invented storyline. As I recall, in the book Profond was strictly a friend, NOT potential lover, of the middle-aged Winifred... Oh yes, and Monty Dartie's still alive in 1920, so that we can see how he dies. The script writers kill him off in a car crash, NOT (as in the book) by falling down a staircase after a card game.

    Why did they rewrite Galsworthy???

    The Jon-Fleur romance, too, is presented quite differently than in the book. And not nearly as well. Both young actors do the best they can with the material, but events don't proceed according to Galsworthy. Fleur is introduced, initially and correctly, as a spoiled brat. But by the end she has matured greatly, through losing the love of her life, and she becomes a noble martyr. (NOBLE MARTYR? Does that sound anything like Galsworthy's Fleur?) There's a scene in which Jon, learning of her impending marriage to Michael, is so jealous that he comes to her and tries to patch things up; but Fleur won't have him now because he wants her only as a LOST POSSESSION....the way Soames used to want Irene. Huh? Can you picture Galsworthy's Jon and Galsworthy's Fleur EVER playing out a scene like that? No, me neither. It's total character assassination. Basically the script writers came up with their own alternative plotline, which had nothing to do with the original story. Fleur ISN'T noble, in the book, and Jon ISN'T greedy. In fact, in the book it's just the other way around, don't you think? And to top it all off, the character of Michael Mont is shown as strong and SERIOUS-MINDED, unlike the cheery, garulous Michael that we know from the trilogies.

    If you want to see a good, faithful adaptation of To Let---again, see the old black & white series. There they got it right!

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Sue

    (NOBLE MARTYR? Does that sound anything like Galsworthy's Fleur?)
    No, not even remotely, Fleur is never anything but a spoiled brat. I suppose they felt they couldn't have their main heroine reamin such an unlikable person, who never learns, who continues to behave selfishly no matter who she hurts, that simply wouldn't do. It's so much easier for scriptwriters to rewrite characters than to make the extra effort to make the characters, as written, work. I don't think Galsworthy at any point wanted Fleur to be thought of as a heroine. She was the product of her father's indulgence, once she was born, he put all the passion and intensity he once lavished on Irene and the process of winning her back, into Fleur and it shows. To turn her into a noble martyr is ridiculous as is the thought she would reject Jon if he came knocking at her door. And come to think of it, the idea that Jon would come knocking at her door in the first place is also ridiculous.

    And to top it all off, the character of Michael Mont is shown as strong and SERIOUS-MINDED, unlike the cheery, garulous Michael that we know from the trilogies.
    I always thought of Michael as being so colorless, a sort of little puppy who has no real will of his own and just goes through life trying to please others. There was some growth in the character eventually and I liked how his relationship with Soames grew. He came to treat Soames with such respect, it had echos of Soames' relationship with his parents and sister. He was always the first person they thought of when in trouble or when they needed advice and I think he became that person for Michael as well.

    I wasn't all that keen on the second series and now I know I won't bother to watch it because I really don't think I could take a noble Fleur.

  3. #18
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    Actually, when I read A Modern Comedy I found Michael a more interesting character than Jon. I agree with you about him acting like 'a lovesick puppy' though...and certainly Fleur treats him as one. In the early chapters of The White Monkey, she reduces him pretty much to the same level as her Chinese dog. She condescends to him. She gives him an occasional pat on the head or a stray caress....when she thinks of it. Poor old Michael! But later on he gains, as you say, more strength of character. He has ideals----unlike Fleur---and he really wants to help people. I like him as a member of Parliament, too, even when he's espousing a lost cause. He always sees the good in others. Too bad he's so easily manipulated and hoodwinked by his own wife! Michael's the sort who will get his reward in heaven but NOT HERE, I'm afraid.

    I too enjoyed his relationship with Soames. They're two such different men
    ---different in temperament, attitudes, and background----and they come from different generations. Yet despite all this, they develop almost a father-son closeness over time. They truly care for and respect each other. Remember the scene when Fleur's in labor? And there are Soames and Michael downstairs, keeping vigil together and CLUTCHING EACH OTHER'S HANDS! What a priceless moment.

    As for Fleur herself, I like her, the little witch. Not a bad girl really. But spoiled rotten. Soames is very much to blame for how she turns out. In addition to overindulging her, he also passes on to Fleur the heredity Forsyte determination and possessiveness. Her love for Jon is really just a case of wanting her own way. She values this young man because she can't have him. And because it's thwarted, her infatuation turns to obsession. Yet in the final analysis, she and Michael are more compatible than she and Jon ever would have been. Can you picture Fleur as a FARMER'S WIFE? Fleur hoeing turnips or feeding the pigs? I don't think so! Life with Jon would have bored her silly, once the initial passion was over. The two of them have nothing in common. Whereas Michael introduces her into high society, to brilliant and sophisticated people. Michael's more her sort of person. And when 'Bart' dies, as Michael's wife she'll be the next Lady Mont--- a titled artistocrat! Not bad going for the granddaughter of 'Superior Dosset Forsyte'. As Soames would say, this girl knows which side her bread is buttered on.

    So why do I like Fleur so much? Hard to say. Maybe I'm just amused by her antics. She's so darned human, and I can relate. And as naughty as she is, she never WANTS to hurt Michael. Even while she's scheming to seduce Jon, she's also thinking 'Poor old Michael! Well, I'll be just as good to him as ever, afterwards. No old-fashioned squeamishness!' In other words, Fleur has a heart. And she really loves Soames too, 'beneath all the fret and self-importance of her life.' I prefer her INFINITELY to Irene! And in End of the Chapter, you really do see a change for the better in Fleur, who in the wake of her father's death has become all about family.

  4. #19
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    Remember the scene when Fleur's in labor? And there are Soames and Michael downstairs, keeping vigil together and CLUTCHING EACH OTHER'S HANDS! What a priceless moment.
    It was and I think that was where I started to see something more to Michael. And it reminded me of Fleur's birth which was such a powerful moment.

    Can you picture Fleur as a FARMER'S WIFE?
    Uh...no. Not even remotely. I always felt her need for Jon was simply her need to posess something she couldn't have. They were so ill-suited for each other regardless of their parents' issues. She was certainly better placed with Michael and really, who else could Fleur marry but a little puppy dog? She needs to be the star of the show, the main and only attraction and Michael certainly let her be that and eventually he was able to find a little light under her shadow and that was good.

    I will never take to Fleur because she was the instrument of Soames' death in a sort of way. Sure, he was in his 70's and lived a full life but still...if it weren't for her, he might have lived a couple more years. Maybe if I ever do get the courage to read the last trilogy, my views towards her will soften a bit.

  5. #20
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    In End of the Chapter, Dinny is a much nicer character. She has a sense of humor, she doesn't take herself too seriously. She's unselfish and always puts others first. Dinny is the person I would like to be; Fleur is the person I'm sometimes afraid that I am!

  6. #21
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    hey everybody so amazing that I have found this site , I need the info about all the characters of the Forsyte saga, if anybody please have the scheme maybe or anything to define who is who there in the novel that would greatly help me in my University home reading class

    thank you so much in advance
    have a nice day

    kind regards

    Thumbelinochka

  7. #22
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    Hi Thumbelinochka!
    In answer to your question about The Forsyte Saga:
    It's a trilogy about an upper middle-class English family, the Forsytes, spanning the years from 1886 to 1920. The Forsytes are successful in business, very practical and ambitious, but in a sense they're also very 'nouveau rich' ("new money"). They judge each other and everyone else by how many POSSESSIONS they can accumulate. And for them, loved ones are simply more things to be owned...

    In Book I, THE MAN OF PROPERTY, Soames Forsyte is a young solicitor who lives in a very fine London house with his beautiful wife, Irene. But appearances are deceiving, since this well-to-do couple don't get on well at all. Irene was coerced into marrying Soames---her stepmother pressured her into it---and now, after 4 years of a loveless marriage, she actually HATES him. Certainly they are mismatched. Irene is artistic and freedom-loving, whereas Soames epitomizes the "man of property," being practical, materialistic and acquisitive. Problem is, he's also sexually obsessed with this wife of his who's all wrong for him. And he sees her as a possession, a beautiful OBJECT that he has collected.

    Knowing how restless Irene is, he tries to save the marriage by hiring an architect, Philip Bosinney, to build them a house in the country. At a place called Robin Hill. This plan only backfires. Irene and the architect fall in love and begin a secret affair...but all of Soames' old aunts and uncles, in fact everyone in the Forsyte family, sees what's happening and gossips about it, increasing his humiliation. Soames is so infuriated that he institutes a lawsuit against Bosinney for overspending on the design of the house. He wins the case---but loses his wife.

    With Irene locking her door against him every night, Soames is further maddened. He decides to "reassert his marital rights," irrespective of how she feels. And so he finally rapes her, setting in motion a series of tragic events. Bosinney goes off on a berserk quest to find Soames; is then run over and killed in the London fog. A dazed Irene returns briefly to the house but then abandons Soames forever with only the clothes on her back.
    She becomes a music teacher, managing to survive for the next 12 years on very little money...

    A sub-plot involves 'Young' Jolyon Forsyte, Soames' outcast cousin. Jolyon, an artist, once created a family scandal by abandoning his first wife for an Austrian woman, whom he later legally wed. His father is Old Jolyon, a sweet but stubborn old man who reconciles with Young Jolyon after a rift of many years. When the architect is killed, his abandoned fiancee June Forsyte---Young Jolyon's grown daughter----persuades Old Jolyon to buy the house at Robin Hill. So Old Jolyon and Young Jolyon, ironically, end up living in the house that was SUPPOSED to have been Soames's. And in his last years, Old Jolyon forms a romantic friendship with Irene, whose beauty he admires. It's all very innocent and sweet: the old man dies peacefully one summer day, while watching Irene approach him across the sunlit lawn. (Presumably, his heart just gives out at sight of her!)

    In Book II, IN CHANCERY, the story starts at the turn of the century. Soames, now middle-aged, wants children and resolves to divorce Irene, whom he hasn't seen in 12 years. But when he goes to interview her about this, all his old passion resurfaces. He begins to pursue her again, urging her to return to him "on any terms whatsoever." Irene refuses. And in her desperation she seeks help from the younger Jolyon, her trustee for a small legacy left her by Old Jolyon. Jolyon is now a widower and---you guessed it!---he and Irene fall in love. This infuriates Soames, who charges them with adultery before they have even done the deed. However, the divorce goes through, uncontested. Soames then marries Annette Lamotte, a pretty but rather cynical French girl half his age, whom he selects for breeding purposes. (He is never in love with Annette, nor she with him.) Irene marries Jolyon and
    ---shockingly!---gives birth, just a few months later, to a son. So there is Jolyon living at Robin Hill, in the house originally designed FOR SOAMES, married to the only woman that Soames ever loved...and with the son by Irene that Soames had so hoped to have...Poor Soames!

    Another sub-plot involves Jolyon's two grown children from his earlier marriage: Jolly and Holly. Holly, a very nice girl, falls in love with Soames' nephew Val Dartie, of whom brother Jolly disapproves. Jolly dares Val to enlist in the Imperial Yeomanry to fight the Boers, thinking that Val will chicken out. But Val accepts the dare, after which Jolly must save face by joining the army too. Both young men go to South Africa, followed by Holly as a Red Cross nurse. Jolly dies of enteric; Holly marries a wounded Val. All these young people demonstrate the Forsyte determination and POSSESSIVENESS, which seems to be family traits.

    In the final chapters of IN CHANCERY, Annette goes into labor and nearly dies. Against the doctor's advice, Soames refuses to allow an operation which would save his young wife but likely kill the baby. Luckily for him, both mother and baby survive. Soames names his daughter "Fleur." And all his frustrated affection, the affection that Irene rejected, is now to be lavished on this child. ("By God! This---this thing was HIS!")

    In Book III, TO LET, many years have passed. It's now 1920, and Soames is an elderly man. His much-younger wife Annette "gads about," and is having a discreet affair with a cynical Belgian, Prosper Profond. Not that Soames even cares. All his love is for daughter Fleur, 18 years old and (because of him) spoiled rotten. But Fleur is also very attractive and clever, a determined young woman who wants to enjoy life to the full. By chance she and Soames visit a London gallery one afternoon and while there, encounter Irene. Irene---still beautiful but aging---is accompanied by her 19-year-old son, Jon Forsyte. One glance is enough. Jon and Fleur---a modern-day Romeo and Juliet---fall in love at first sight. Even sadder, the two kids know nothing about family history, so have no conception of how "impossible" any union between them would be...

    Jon is studying farming at the country home of his married sister, Holly Dartie. Fleur goes there to visit, and the forbidden romance develops further. Ultimately, Fleur finds out "the awful truth" about her father and Irene, from an insensitive remark made by her mother's lover. But not wanting to lose Jon, she schemes to get married to him secretly and quickly, BEFORE HE IS TOLD. At the first opportunity she begs Jon to elope with her to Scotland. Jon, however, refuses to do that. The boy is too sensitive, too devoted to Irene to take such a drastic step. Because an elopement would "hurt Mother awfully," as he puts it, he opts for a frank disclosure instead. He goes back to Robin Hill to tell both parents of his engagement to Fleur.

    This, of course, causes great turmoil. Jolyon then gives the boy a letter outlining Irene's sordid past, including the rape of so many years ago. The letter points out that "Fleur's father once owned Jon's mother as a slave-owner might have owned a slave..." Reading this, poor Jon is shocked and horrified. And minutes later, all this stress takes its toll and Jolyon drops dead of a heart attack. That tragedy pretty much clinches things. Jon can never marry Fleur now, for that would be "hitting his widowed mother in the face."

    But Fleur will not give up on love. She urges her father to go to Jon's mother and "make it right." Assure Irene that there need never be any socializing or interaction between the in-laws. Soames, who dotes on his daughter, can refuse her nothing. He sinks his pride and goes to Robin Hill for a conference. Irene, seeing him, is as relentlessly cold and unforgiving as ever. And then Jon appears with the sad announcement that he can never marry Fleur. Ironically, it is now SOAMES who would be willing to relinquish ownership of Fleur to promote Fleur's happiness, while Irene----formerly the champion of freedom---selfishly and possessively clings to her son.

    Jon leaves England for British Columbia. Fleur, on the rebound, marries a young aristocrat named Michael Mont. The book ends with Soames burying his last remaining Forsyte uncle----Timothy, who has lived to be a hundred years old out of sheer tenacity. Soames, reflecting on his own life, thinks of all his various losses and defeats. "He might wish and wish and never get it---the beauty and the loving in the world!"

  8. #23
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    Dear Mary Sue thank you very much

    you helped me so so much thank you

    tomorrow having my credit about the Saga .


    once again thanks a lot

    what I can say I did enjoy reading the book the style is unique and plus for me who is learning english language it was completely stunning to find out a lot of new useful words and expressions,but Galsworthy to my mind a little bit overadored Irene, who was not innocent woman at all, I also did not like her from the start , of course he describes her to be very beautiful and so natural , but she seemed to have no heart and soul and could hardly speak a word to people, In modern language I can call her scammer , the woman who married a guy only for money and position , which is never good , it is mean and horrible deed.
    have a nice day

    kind regards

    Thumbelinochka

  9. #24
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    I would love to know if it was Galsworthy's intention for us to like Irene because she is written in such an unsympathetic way. I did read somewhere that he never let Irene "speak", her words and thoughts and motivations were always seen or spoken through other characters and that, in and of itself, makes her a very remote character so that aloofness of hers that is so off putting was deliberate. I think just because he talks about her beauty doesn't necessarily mean he wants us to like her, beauty is a physical description it doesn't have to mean the character is to be admired. When you think of all that Irene goes through, how much Soames hounds her and hurts her and yet not one person I know who has read the book has any sympathy for her, I don't think that can be a coincidence. I, too, the first time I read it thought our affinity should be with Irene because Soames did some truly awful things to her but my affinity was always with Soames and after reading it a few more times, I really have begun to believe that's where Galsworthy wanted our sympathies to go, not with Irene. It's an incredibly complex book, much more so than your average Victorian Lit, he does not write in a 'black and white' sort of way so while Irene sometimes seems like the obvious victim and Soames the obvious villian, I don't think those were the roles Galsworthy intended for them.
    the luminous grass of the prairie hides
    feet lovely and still as sleeping doves,
    porcelain bones strong enough to carry a life,
    but weighty and unmovable
    As black Dakota hills.
    ~ Riesa

  10. #25
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    Smile

    Certainly I myself have never liked Irene, as you can gather from my previous comments about her. She's in her own little world, self-absorbed almost to the point of autism. In her youth all she cares about are two things: her music and her lover Bosinney. Nothing else matters, and hey, the rest of the world can go to hell as far as Irene's concerned. If she ruins June's life in the process, if she breaks Soames' heart, so what? She's totally self-serving and when it suits her purpose, she's quite heartless.

    Her emotional abuse of Soames----a man who truly loves her---is worse, far worse, than any of his retaliatory crimes against her. She makes no attempt to understand him, nor does she ever appreciate the depth of his devotion to her. The more he loves her, in fact, the more she apparently detests him. She humiliates him publicly at Uncle Roger's party, where she carries on with her lover in full sight of all the in-laws. She taunts Soames on a daily basis. She denies him sex, then flaunts her affair in his face while still residing under his roof. She is...well, a HORRIBLE wife.

    Not to mention the fact that ultimately, she goes on to KILL all the other men who are so unfortunate as to love her: Bosinney, Old Jolyon and even Young Jolyon in the end. And being also a possessive mother, she nearly sucks the life out of her son Jon, not wanting to lose him to another woman...Oh, don't get me started on Irene! In my opinion, Irene Forsyte is a rag, a bone and a hank of hair!

    My only consolation is the conviction that sooner or later, all that Bad Karma must have caught up with her. I picture her in old age as a toothless crone, so ugly that little children in the street call her "Witch!" as she passes. I also
    like to imagine an Irene with arthritis of the hands, spending hours of frustration staring at the keyboard that she can no longer play...LOL!

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Sue View Post
    Oh, don't get me started on Irene! In my opinion, Irene Forsyte is a rag, a bone and a hank of hair!


    I feel very much the same way. Of course there was the marital rape thing and that was bad and I would never in any circumstances make excuses for that but I will say, you can see how things built up to that. I think it's more of a statement about what few rights women had in marriage because I think for that time, that sort of thing probably wasn't all that uncommon and a lot of people would've thought he did what was within his rights. She had no recourse...but that doesn't mean I like her any more.


    I picture her in old age as a toothless crone, so ugly that little children in the street call her "Witch!" as she passes. I also like to imagine an Irene with arthritis of the hands, spending hours of frustration staring at the keyboard that she can no longer play...LOL!
    That image makes me feel so much better.
    the luminous grass of the prairie hides
    feet lovely and still as sleeping doves,
    porcelain bones strong enough to carry a life,
    but weighty and unmovable
    As black Dakota hills.
    ~ Riesa

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