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Article

Англичане и иностранцы в "Саге о Форсайтах" и "Современной комедии" Дж. Голсуорси

The article examines how the national identity is represented in J. Galsworthy’s “The Forsyte Saga” and “A Modern Comedy”. The choice of the novels for analysis is determined by the fact that being a realistic writer, Galsworthy thoroughly examines contemporary society but tries to find its roots in the Victorian epoch, which many contemporary historians and cultural studies scholars consider a key period in the formation of the English identity.

 The term “identity” implies a compulsory presence of the category “Others”, contrasted to the subject and the category “We”, with which the subject identifies himself. In the analysed novels the category “We” is expressed through the images of English people (represented on the lexical level by the lexemes “English” and “British”), while the category “Others” is expressed through the images of foreigners (lexemes “foreign”, “French”, “American”). The above mentioned categories are also contrasted in the system of characters, where “Others” include not only foreigners by nationality (Helene Hilmer, Annette, Mme Lamotte, Prosper Profond, Anne, Francis Wilmot) but also those English people, who do not share basic English values and a set of typical English characteristics (Irene).

Both at the lexical and plot level “English” are evaluated predominantly positively, while “foreigners” are evaluated negatively or neutrally, but always as something alien, strange and puzzling. Besides, foreigners initiate conflicts that breach foundations of the English world of the Forsytes. The language often serves as a criterion to contrast English and foreign worlds (an example of it being the relations between a typical Englishman Soames and his French wife Annette).

The author’s vision of the English identity is realised through the basic English cultural concepts of NATURE and PRIVACY. For Galsworthy nature is primarily associated with a traditional rural England, which is represented by images of farms and countryside estates (Robin Hill, the Sussex Downs). The countryside is opposed to the image of a city (London), which hastened rhythm of life presents a certain danger to the traditional English lifestyle. The concept of PRIVACY belongs to the basic anglo-saxon values and accumulates ideas of the importance of a private space preservation. It is possible to state that within the novel the concept of PRIVACY interacts with that of HOUSE. The image of the house occupies a central place in the text and foregrounds the meaning of the idiom “an Englishman’s home is his castle”. There is a number of such houses in the novel: for Soames these are his father’s house, that of Timothy and later “Shelter”, where he lives with Annette and Fleur; Old Jolyon and his son find such a “castle” in Robin Hill. A private house as a private space, isolated from the outer world, is similarly important for the young generation (represented by Fleur) and even for English workers. In contrast, “foreigners” do not give such a significance to a house (e.g. Irene).