John Galsworthy 1910
Since its first publication in 1910 in the collection A Motley, John Galsworthy’s “The Japanese Quince” has been popular with readers for its richly suggestive, yet subdued, narrative. The story recounts an episode from the life of Mr. Nilson, who is momentarily diverted by the sights, sounds, and smells of an early spring morning. Seized by the beauty of the natural world, Mr. Nilson is briefly lifted out of his highly regimented, well-ordered life. Born to wealth and having lived his entire life in the Victorian English world of the upper middle class, Galsworthy wrote about what he knew. The hollow lives of his patrician characters provide the matrix for the primary pathos of his work. He once stated that “The Japanese Quince” was his attempt to “produce in the reader the sort of uneasy feeling that now and then we run up against ourselves.” Like much of Galsworthy’s fiction, this story has been commended for its complex insights into the ambivalence of human nature, and for its glimpse into a world that reveals its shortcomings while suggesting the possibilities for its redemption.
A prolific novelist, playwright and short-story writer, Galsworthy is considered one of the most successful English authors of the early twentieth century. Born 14 August 1867 at his wealthy family’s estate near London, Galsworthy was a member of the upper-class Victorian society he later challenged in his fiction. His work is admired for capturing the proud but declining spirit of upper-class society from the 1880s to the years following World War I. While revealing the shortcomings of society, particularly its material and consumer values, Galsworthy’s best work also manages to communicate the possibility of change for the better, or the poignant reality that the possibility for betterment has passed unacknowledged...