Why Forsterites are Forsterites
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
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.
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.
love E. M. Forster!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
Created 4 April 2001, 14:55 PDT. Last modified 25
October 2004, 21:59 PST.