Item 120 - Letter from John Galsworthy to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

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PETH/8/120

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Letter from John Galsworthy to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

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  • 10 Oct. 1916 (Creation)

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10 Broad Walk, Buxton.—Comments on the presentation of spiritual union between men and women in fiction.

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10. Broad Walk | Buxton
Oct 10. 1917.

Dear Mrs. Pethick Lawrence

Thank you for your fine letter. It’s a most awfully intricate and difficult subject, and maddening to make clear by letter. Poetry is such a different medium that I think it does not serve for analogy; and Rolland I don’t care for (unfashionable as that is). Do you know of any figure in fiction stretched to full spiritual growth, in any setting but that of tragedy. The nearest approach I know to the presentation of full spiritual union between man & woman in real art is Pierre & Natasha in Tolstoi’s War & Peace; and how very flat the ending of that great book is! The same may be said of Levin & Kitty in ‘Anna Karenin[’]!

Henry James tried it in ‘A Portrait of a Lady’ but he left an ending which may be read either way; &, whichever way you read, it tells us nothing. Full spiritual development in happiness seems fated to be anti-climaxic, I suppose because it means Nirvana of which nothing can be said.

Some day we’ll talk about it perhaps.

Yours very sincerely
John Galsworthy

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