About this site & its maintainer
Okay, before you continue on, here are some basic yet important facts about this site and about me:
First and foremost: I am not an authority on E. M. Forster,
and I don't claim to be one. I simply love and admire much of Forster's
work, especially Howards End (more on that later). I
"discovered" Forster my second year in high school, and have
been a fan ever since. I say this because I receive many e-mails asking
for help on a paper someone is writing (or should be writing). Actually,
one recent e-mailer said she was disappointed in my "extensive"
knowledge and sarcastically thanked me for nothing. Obviously, she did
not read the above statement.
As for the Only Connect Shop -- any commissions I end up earning will
only help support this site: slightly defraying the cost of my ISP, host
and e-mail, for example. Currently on average, the commissions add up
to about US$7 every year. Which means that it takes at least three years
to even get a check. So if you bookmark the Shop page and buy all your
Amazon stuff from the links there, I would really appreciate it. Please
help keep this site free and bannerless! You can also send
a donation to help out with costs.
How the 'Only Connect' site got started
What is the deal with "Only connect"? What does it mean?
I chose 'Only Connect' as the title for this site because of (1) its recognition factor and strong relationship to E. M. Forster, (2) I appreciate the idea(s) behind the phrase, and (3) on a more literal level, it conveniently (punningly?) can refer to the principle of the Web.
"Only connect" appears more than once in Forster's novel, Howards End. Some people have e-mailed me, asking what exactly the phrase means. There are a few interpretations that have been bandied about; however, for now I'll provide a short explanation of context and let you decide. It's tough to make an interpretation without reading the novel and understanding what's going on, but anyway...
The exact wording, "Only connect..." (with the ellipsis) actually first appears all by itself on its own page, following the title page and preceding Chapter 1. After this instance, Forster employs the phrase when speaking of the relationship between Margaret and Henry, two main characters in the novel. Here are two very short extracts from Howards End:
"Mature as he
was, she might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow
bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it
we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches
that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on
the highest curve, glowing against the gray, sober against the fire."
That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion,
and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live
in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed
of the isolation that is life to either, will die."
More about my interest in Forster
The same can be said of the film, although I must admit that the two different genres have their own special qualities -- but both present the same story quite well. The 1992 Merchant-Ivory production of the novel is my favorite movie; hopefully I will have some sort of material dedicated to it in the future.
I can be a pretty picky person, depending on what it is you're talking about. In the case of EMF, there's probably really only one thing that can drive me nuts: when Howards End is spelled as "Howard's End." I really don't mind that much when the mistake is made by people who haven't read the novel, but when someone claims h/she "loved the book" and "read it three or four times" or some such instance, I get really annoyed when the person then proceeds to spell it with an extra apostrophe. Let me just clarify this for everyone who isn't familiar with it: Howards End is an estate name, as it was fashionable in those days to name your property (e.g. Wuthering Heights, Lowick, Thornfield). The novel is not about anyone named Howard, nor about the end or death of Howard.
Moving on . . .
Little did I know then.
For me, finding Forster when I did was pivotal in my life. It may sound overdramatic, but I think it's very true. I credit him for influencing and developing my taste in literature (and, indirectly, film); his work certainly played a large part in my decision to major in English in college. Maybe you don't like period pieces, or dramatic, sweeping movies that, to you, concentrate more on the costume design than the storytelling. Everyone's entitled to his/her own tastes. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you're totally ignorant of EMF. Try looking through the site, and you might be surprised to find that you do indeed have a connection to Forster's works.
Have questions, comments or just want to say hi? Feel free to contact me by e-mail. I welcome all reactions and queries regarding this site or E. M. Forster.
If you would like a Web site designed or would like some input on how to make an existing one better suited in terms of usability, I'm available for freelance work. Just send me a line. I'd love to work with fellow Forsterites.
Thanks for reading this. :-) If, for some reason, you'd like to learn more about me, try visiting my home page.
Created 18 January 1996 and last modified 14 June
2004, 00:54 PST.