Three John Galsworthys and “A Wonderful Red Letter Day”
Never at ease with himself or in any social role, Galsworthy was, in 1918, imperfectly separable into three different identities. The public Galsworthy worked hard for causes to relieve suffering, wrote to the newspapers, made temperate forecasts and issued pronouncements on international questions. A survival from 1910, when his opinions and plans had been welcomed by the establishment, the public Galsworthy still sounded measured, elaborately rational, drawing the lines of his humane distinctions carefully, as if he could achieve a kind of control over events. In addition to this, a second identity was more sceptical, even bitter, shocked by family internments and all the various brutalities, both at the front and in English society, revealed by the war. More circumspect about displaying the bitter identity, one that needed to overcome layers of convention and training in order to emerge, Galsworthy was likely to show this scepticism only in private, or in careful qualifications of the public pronouncements, or anonymously. The two identities edged against each other with a good deal of strain, each often moderating the other. The third Galsworthy, relentlessly private, lived within the fiction he worked on so assiduously.
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- 16.Siegfried Sassoon, Siegfried’s Journey, 1916–1920 (London: Faber & Faber, 1945) p. 53.Google Scholar