Friday, July 21, 2006


This is a short story set a couple of years after the action in The Man of Property. It recounts the happy last days of the most authoritative Forsytean of them all: Old Jolyon.

He merits the attention. He was the character in The Man of Property that more than any other Forsyte suggested more than was immediately evident. Partly, it was the sway his affections had over him, with regard to June, his grand-children and his social-pariah son, Jo. His emotional life was not entirely regulated by his social position or the much-vaunted Forsyte ethos.

This is true in Interlude, too, but here there is another element: his love of beauty. First, the beauty of "what had just started to be called 'nature'". (Was it really only then? I'd have thought it earlier - with the Romantics.) And then, Irene. What a wonderful figure she is. It's real Helen of Troy stuff: the beauty that sinks ships and families. She can never be touched or understood, but she is the fount of such joy. Interlude is really a bursting-with-joy depiction of rejuvenation, of the intensity of life lived, and a sweet death. It has the intensity of youthful passion in the shadow of a natural death. The characters do not express the passion, and nor really does the writer, which makes it all the more powerful, more adult. You must draw on your own experience to understand it. Great writing.

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