Why Forsterites are Forsterites


Who is Forster?

 ~ by Forster
 ~ about Forster
 ~ inspired by Forster

Selected quotes

Film adaptations

Why Forsterites are Forsterites

About this site & its maintainer


Links to other sites

a.k.a. 'Why I appreciate E. M. Forster'

This page features the noteworthy entries sent to me for the ongoing tribute to Forster (originally begun to mark the fifth anniversary of the Only Connect Site). (They're listed in reverse chronological order.) I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

     Maybe Forster cannot be considered one of the greatest novelists of European literature, but he surely was a great man. His writings reflect his genius, his tolerance, his incredible understatement.
     Consider A Passage to India: the way he transforms the name of Mrs. Moore into a sort of magic formula uttered by the crowd, as if to contrast a sort of hidden evil which permeates life, is absolutely "Forster": real and symbolic at the same time.
     I think we should all try, from time to time, to gather in a square and shout "Mrs. Moore" -- I'm quite confident the world would be better.

Angelo Casertano
Milan, Italy
October 2004

     In A Passage To India, Forster's keen, insightful and sensitive portrayal of people, both Indian and English, living in British India won me over before I'd reached page 10! The world he creates is very real and took me back to the years I spent studying in a British public school in India where we had Anglo-Indian teachers and ate pea-cutlets and triffle. His sensitivity to the workings of the Indian mind is admirable and in Fielding, Aziz and "Esmiss Esmoor" he has created characters that will remain etched in my mind for years. Having read Hardy, Eliot, the Brontës, Austen, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and others copiously, I fully agree with the statement that in A Passage to India he has created a modern classic.

Amar Talwar
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
October 2004

     Why do I appreciate Forster? Well, that's quite a difficult question. None of his books are particularly exciting in the usual sense, but then his ability to penetrate his characters and make them real is powerful. I have just finished reading Howards End, and somehow I still feel somewhat annoyed at Henry, and somewhat sorry for Margaret for marrying him. They are both such realistic characters.
     Characterisation is Forster's marvellous strength in all of his books. Dr Aziz (from A Passage to India), for instance, is my favourite character in all of literature. I fell in love with him from the first moment, partly because he is a realistic character, and partly because Forster paints him so lovingly, so gently, that he becomes a friend.
    Then of course there is Forster's ability to describe his setting so marvellously. Early 20th-century London positively lives in Howards End, and I never find Forster's ramblings about the beauty of the countryside annoying, rather they give the text a kind of gentle, soft, decoupage of frilliness that works so well for his style. What a wonderful writer.

Gillian Booth
London, England, UK
June 2004

     I love E. M. Forster!
     I was lying in my bed the other night, pondering the magnificence of A Room with a View. My devotion to Forster came about when my parrot, called Violet, passed away. At that moment, I remembered the scene from the novel where Lucy was passionately kissed in the field of violets. It was then that I realised that the parrot didn't matter; like Lucy, I was very alone. I have searched the world for a man called George, as I believe that all book characters exist in real life at some point or another.
     Thank you, E. M. Forster!

Jennifer Stevenson
Nebraska, USA
June 2004

     E. M. Forster loved music, and his musical skills and structures are seen in his works. Mostly he is using Beethoven's music, such as the 5th Symphony and Piano Sonata op. 111, but we have to pay attention to other composers as well because Forster intended to use musicians such as Wagner and Donizetti, and he also worked with Benjamin Britten for the opera Billy Budd. Forster's musical novel begins from Where Angels Fear to Tread and reaches A Passage to India.
     Though he stopped writing novels after A Passage to India, he was searching for what he wanted to say, and finally he found a way to express his whole novels in Billy Budd. In the opera, the main character Captain Vere stands in conflict between good and evil. Captain Vere represents Forster himself; Forster was always in between different things and he had to think what was good for all.
     Forster was seeking the way to solve the problem through Beethoven's music. He could trust Beethoven. One of his short stories, "Co-ordination," is interesting because Beethoven appears as a character. Reading Forster's works, we can learn both literature and music; we are also finding a way to get along with the world in his works. So, I would like to send three cheers for Forster.

Izumi Okuyama
Suzuka, Japan
June 2004

     I went back to college a few years ago in my never-ending quest to get a degree. This time, however, I went to do what I wanted to do: literature and English, and not what my father made me do so many years ago: business. I read EMF's short story, "The Road to Colonus." It was the best written description of a mystical experience I'd ever read. There was verisimilitude to it -- an authenticity, a recognition of some realities, such as the fact that often the hurly-burly of life pulls you away from these numinous experiences. The unfairness of life, the belief in a naturalistic inner life constantly repressed, the struggle against mindless conformity -- these are some of the themes in Forster that resonate with me.

Harry Pandolfino
York, Pennsylvania, USA
March 2004

     E. M. Forster's A Room with a View saved me from a life of lonely bitterness. I had fears that seriously attaching myself to someone would somehow make me less.
     One evening in college for no rational reason, I was kissed -- and returned the kiss -- of a young man I didn't know very well, on a hillside overlooking the town below, as Lucy had done in A Room with A View. The kiss was interrupted and I intentionally avoided him because I really didn't know what to do. As the elder Mr. Emerson would have stated, "I got into a muddle."
     As some very awkward time passed, I convinced myself that I was not in love with this young man and that I should separate myself from him and my family, and travel come the end of the school year (I had even bought the ticket as Lucy had). I was planning a long car trip and wanted a story to listen to; I randomly bought A Room with a View on audio tape.
     As I drove home from college, I was frightened by how much I found myself in the story. Listening to the elder Mr. Emerson scolding Lucy for deceiving herself was the most intimate connection I had ever had with a book -- he was scolding me. The result is that the young man who kissed me is now planning wedding vows with me and we intend to include Mr. Emerson's speech to Lucy in the wedding.
     I have read the book over and over, as well as many of Forster's other works. I have come to appreciate his writing beyond my own personal revelation. But I will always be in debt to E. M. Forster.

Shelton, Washington, USA
March 2004

     Forster's sensitivity to the social barriers that limit a full life and cause great cruelty may be unsurpassed in English literature. He writes from a very particular vantage point from his characters, close enough to feel their body heat but with a wide-lens perspective on their place in the turning world. The construction of his stories is at once unobtrusively sturdy and astonishing in its delicacy. Forster's surgery of the human heart has a kind of grace to it that I have always found -- since I was introduced to him via Howards End fifty years ago -- inexpressibly moving and, yes, morally instructive. Among the great modernists, he is the schoolmaster with the open door.

Charles Michener
New York, New York, USA
February 2003

     I discovered Forster because of the brilliance of Merchant Ivory films. I saw "A Room with a View," and was so enchanted that I had to read the book. I was pleasantly surprised that the movie was so true to the book, and was even more thrilled to discover that Forster also wrote A Passage to India. I had seen the movie "A Passage to India" when I was quite young, really too young to appreciate what it was about, but parts of it were emblazoned on my brain. I could remember emotions, if not scenes or words, and I knew it was a story I should rediscover in print. And I fell in love with E. M. Forster all over again.
     But as much as I loved these two books, his short stories have the most profound affect on me. "The Celestial Omnibus" and "Other Kingdom" are incredibly powerful works. Short stories are out of fashion, and most writers are not capable of writing them. I can't imagine a more difficult task than writing something of great depth and keeping it concise, but Forster did it repeatedly. Short story writing is almost a lost art. Enjoy Forster's, and know you have been in the presence of The Master.

Rae Rutherford
Spotsylvania, Virginia, USA
January 2003

     I too found Forster at a pivotal time in my life. I was in eighth grade. I had been in foster care all my life and depression finally got the better of me. I burned everything I owned and refused to eat. I was a passionate writer who lived to write and to read. Every inch of my room was books from floor to ceiling. So when I torched them everyone really freaked out.
After about a month, my foster mother took me to a secondhand store where she had a friend. I've always bought old books by smell. Even though I refused to own anything "ever again" I found a book that refused to be ignored. I thought I would buy it and maybe just make it my last book. I didn't look at the title, I only smelled the book. I stuck it in a bag and the nuns charged me 25 cents for it. I took it home and let it sit in the bag for a week. Then I pulled it out and flipped the book open randomly. It turned to "The Celestial Omnibus" by E. M. Forster. By the end of the story I was crying and I wanted life more than anything. I looked to see what this book was I was holding. The title was The Traveler's Library compiled by W. Somerset Maugham. It was a compilation of poems, essays, short stories, novels and notes, from Doubleday Doran and Co., Garden City, New York, published in 1933.
     This book and more so this story saved my life I do believe. I have since been 100% dedicated to E. M. Forster.

Partholon MacPharlain
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
December 2002

     I'd never heard of E. M. Forster before in my life. I just could not sleep one night, so I turned on the TV and saw the film "Maurice." This film really inspired me...I can really relate to the characters in the movie. Forster really inspired me and really got me thinking about who I am. (I never got any sleep that night, and slept through class the next day. I went out and bought a copy of Maurice the next day.) I just wanted to say thank you to Mr. Forster, wherever you are, for writing the book, and the film producer for making the movie.

Toan Pham
Los Angeles, California, USA
October 2002

     Forster's Englishness has always inspired me in my own writing, in the way I view the world and in a personal nostalgia I have for a country that does not exist any more: the country where, despite the chaos and the muddles and the panic, the "ending" will find lovers together, tea on the table, books in the library, justice seen to be done, troubles reduced to an echo. Forster's world is stately and gracious when I visit it through his work; I am never disappointed. Having read several biographies, my only sadness is that I never had the chance to meet the man. He is somebody I would very much like to have gossiped with...

David Spanswick
Brighton, England, UK
April 2002

     I picked up a secondhand copy of Two Cheers for Democracy a couple of days ago, having only known Forster from Merchant/Ivory films. What struck me was his connectivity with the present day. I've found it hard to believe that most of the essays I had been reading had been written 60 years before. I feel that he would have been a wonderful person to talk with, to discuss virtually any field with. His tolerance & thoughtfulness I feel we could use more now, than at anytime in the past. I regret the fact that I can only listen & never speak with a unique individual of unexpected thoughtfulness, who lived through some of the most bigoted & angry years of mankind's history.

Andrew Ross
Alton, Hampshire, England, UK
February 2001

If you're interested in sharing your own thoughts about Forster here, feel free to send me a message. Details of the tribute are outlined on the "Why do you appreciate Forster?" page.

Copyrights of individual essays are retained by their respective writers.

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Created 4 April 2001, 14:55 PDT. Last modified 25 October 2004, 21:59 PST.
'Only Connect': The Unofficial E. M. Forster Site <http://www.musicandmeaning.com/forster/why-tribute.html>