The Island Pharisees
by John Galsworthy
“There’s something about human nature that is awfully repulsive, and the healthier people are, the more repulsive they seem to me to be…”
First published in 1904, The Island Pharisees takes a critical look beneath the gilded veneer of Edwardian England.
Dick Shelton is engaged to Antonia Dennant and his privileged middle-class life seems complete until he meets Ferrand, an enigmatic young vagrant, who begins to shake his complacency and open his eyes to the selfishness and hypocrisy of London society.
When Shelton escapes the city and travels to his fiancee’s home in rural Oxfordshire, he hopes to share an Eden with his “inscrutable young Eve.” But even here the Dennants’ narrow, bourgeois world is bound by convention – and the shadow of Ferrand is never very far away…
Title: The Island Pharisees
Author: John Galsworthy
Published: July 2009
John Galsworthy (1867-1933) was born in Surrey and educated at Harrow and New College, Oxford. Called to the Bar in 1890, he decided instead to pursue a literary career, publishing his early work under the pseudonym John Sinjohn. The Island Pharisees (1904) was the first novel to appear under his real name, and this was followed by The Country House (1907), Fraternity (1909), The Patrician (1911) and The Dark Flower (1913).
The Man of Property (1906) marked the beginning of the popular Forsyte sequence of novels, and together with In Chancery (1920) and To Let (1921) was published as The Forsyte Saga in 1922. A second cycle of books about the Forsytes, including The White Monkey (1924), The Silver Spoon (1926) and Swan Song (1928), appeared collectively as A Modern Comedy in 1929.
As well as an acclaimed novelist, John Galsworthy was also a prolific and successful playwright, his first work for the stage, The Silver Box, being produced in 1906. Many of his plays, such as Strife (1909), Justice (1910) and The Skin Game (1920), highlighted social issues and had a considerable effect on public opinion and policy.
John Galsworthy was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1932 but died shortly afterwards, a final instalment of the Forsyte chronicles – The End of the Chapter – being published posthumously in 1935.