Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

Galsworthy's first works can be seen as studies or apprentice work, and perhaps for this reason he published his first works under the pseudonym John Sinjohn. Significantly, after his father's death in 1904, Galsworthy began publishing under his own name. The Man of Property, the first novel in his acclaimed Forsyte Saga, was published in 1906; and the year also saw the critical and commercial success of his play The Silver Box. From this year onward Galsworthy was an important figure in English literary life, receiving numerous awards and honors. He continued to publish prodigiously; in the first two decades of the twentieth century he wrote fifteen novels, thirteen plays, and numerous essays, poems and volumes of short stones. Galsworthy had been writing and publishing for over a decade when he wrote "The Japanese Quince." Although his early works are considered derivative, influenced heavily by English writer Rudyard Kipling, "The Japanese Quince" exhibited his talents as an original writer. In addition to addressing themes of love and beauty, much of Galsworthy's fiction challenges the standards of upper-class Victorian society; both ideas are prevalent in "The Japanese Quince." Noted as much for his short stories as for his novels, particularly The Forsyte Saga, Galsworthy has long been regarded as a representative of an outworn narrative tradition, but in recent years his reputation has been enhanced as critics have come to appreciate pre-World War I fiction as a product of its times.

In J. Henry Smit's essay from The Short Stones of John Galsworthy, appears a letter from Galsworthy explaining to a reader his purpose in writing "The Japanese Quince'':

"The Japanese Quince" attempts to convey the feeling that comes to all of us—even the most unlikely— in the spring. It also attempts to produce in the reader the sort of uneasy feeling that now and then we run up against ourselves. It is also a satire on the profound dislike which most of us have of...

(The entire section is 832 words.)