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Although admired by fellow writers like E. M. Forster, Henry Green and William Faulkner and winning comparisons with Joseph Conrad and Dostoyevsky, James Hanley is not as well known as he should be. Without doubt, he was one of the major British writers of the twentieth-century. Faber Finds is proud to be reissuing his Furys saga, making all five novels available for the first time.
Before writing The Furys, James Hanley outlined his plan to his publisher:
‘I want to show the downfall of a whole family excepting one, and that is the woman. That woman is heroic, powerful, exercises a tremendous influence over her family. I shall show her under every light. I cannot attempt to describe in detail the amazing lives of these people, sometimes fantastic, but never, never divorced from reality. Working class lives are full of colour, of poetry, there is the stuff of drama in the most insignificant things.’
The Furys, the first in the sequence, is set in Liverpool, renamed Gelton, in 1911. Set during the ‘Great Liverpool Transport Strike’, it centres upon a decisive moment in the lives of the Fury family. Fanny Fury has pinned all her frustrated hopes on her youngest son, Peter. Struggling against poverty and family resentment, she sends Peter to train for the priesthood. Seven years later, and in disgrace, he returns home to face her pain and rage.
‘It’s great . . . I really think it is different in quality, texture, atmosphere, view-point, art and purpose from any other book I know. It’s a wonderful thing to have done. . .The character of the mother is a masterpiece, and so – only second to her – is Mr Fury. I never recall reading of the mysterious and involved link between married people so profoundly and touchingly portrayed.’ John Cowper Powys
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