logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: e.m.-forster
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-08-22 13:58
Reading progress update: I've read 9 out of 247 pages.
Maurice - E.M. Forster

I need some Forster. 

 

Alas, this is my last Forster novel. After this, I only have the short stories and literary criticism.

 

It's off to a good start:

"Mr Abrahams was a preparatory schoolmaster of the old-fashioned sort. He cared neither for work nor games, but fed his boys well and saw that they did not misbehave. The rest he left to the parents, and did not speculate how much the parents were leaving to him. Amid mutual compliments the boys passed out into a public school, healthy but backward, to receive upon undefended flesh the first blows of the world. There is much to be said for apathy in education, and Mr Abrahams’s pupils did not do badly in the long run, became parents in their turn, and in some cases sent him their sons. Mr Read, the junior assistant, was a master of the same type, only stupider, while Mr Ducie, the senior, acted as a stimulant, and prevented the whole concern from going to sleep. They did not like him much, but knew that he was necessary."

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-07-22 23:11
E.M. Forster: A New Life
E.M. Forster: A New Life - Wendy Moffat

Before judging my reading experience of this book based on my star rating, let me say this:

 

This was not a bad book and there are aspects of this biography that provide a valuable insight into Forster's life and work. However, this biography really follows Forster's life from one angle only, depending on what you expect from a biography, mileage on this may vary.

 

Moffat starts the book with an explanation of her approach, which in turn is based on something Christopher Isherwood said when looking at a stack of biographies about Forster:

"Of course all those books have got to be re-written," he said. "Unless you start with the fact that he was homosexual, nothing's any good."

That is, Moffat is quoting from an Isherwood biography by John Lehmann here, and whether this is a true account or was written as a dramatic embellishment, I could not say. 

It does, however, go straight to the heart of Moffat's biography ... and also to one of the criticisms I have.

 

Moffat does an excellent job presenting Forster in the context of his sexuality, or more precisely his initial struggles with it and the immense pressure he felt of not being able to live openly for fear of persecution and, indeed, prosecution. Being a young man at the start of the 20th century, Forster would have only been too aware of the trials of Oscar Wilde and would himself witness the arrest of friends and acquaintances over the decades. 

 

His resentment over not being able to tell the stories he really wanted to tell and over having to work within the expectations of societal conventions lead to Forster stopping to write major works of fiction after A Passage to India (1924). That is, he did write another major novel, Maurice, but insisted that it should not be published until after his death as the story tells of the relationship between two men and he feared the repercussions. (Btw, Maurice apparently includes a game-keeper scene that may have inspired D.H. Lawrence - one of the few people who were aware of the manuscript - to mock it in Lady Chatterley's Lover)   

 

Moffat explores Forster's diaries - including his "locked" diaries, which he also only allowed access after his death - in detail and we do get a clear picture of the anxieties and of the passions Forster had, and Moffat does well to connect Forster's diary entries with the lives of his friends, peers, and with perception of homosexuality in society through the decades. 

 

However, this is also the main point where this book fell down for me. Moffat goes into a lot of detail. Salacious detail. Lots and lots of it. At times, I felt like whole chapters were focusing about who bedded whom more so than Forster's life and work. Rather than developing an argument, it felt like some of the descriptions merely served to provide a sensationalist hook. 

 

I really should have liked this more than I did, but the meandering descriptions of relationships (not just Forster's but also of his friends and acquaintances) made me skim over quite a few paragraphs. There was little point to most of them.

 

The other criticism I have is with Moffat's writing style. It did not work for me. Her narrative sounded dramatised in a way that made the book read more like fiction than non-fiction and some of the descriptions, as a result of the narrations, did not sound factual even tho they may have been. This was not helped by the way that references were not clearly marked in the text. They were there, of course, but I should not have to check the reference section in the book to see if a certain line on a page is actually backed up with a source of research. 

 

All in all, this was interesting, but I would not recommend the book without some hesitation.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-07-21 22:23
Reading progress update: I've read 83 out of 404 pages.
E.M. Forster: A New Life - Wendy Moffat

It appears that the author has given me a rest from her dissection of Forster's love life and we now a have a (hopefully extended) period of discussing the rest of his life.

 

I knew that Forster was a tutor to Elizabeth von Arnim's children but didn't know about the anecdote of his arrival at her castle, or about descriptions his employer. 

 

I am not typing these right here but much of the quotes are also provided in this post on the Books as Food blog. 

 

What was even more interesting, there are some glimpses now about Forster's, Morgan's, development as a writer - the stuff that makes his book stand out so from others of the time: 

While in Nassenheide, Morgan turned to his diary to ruminate on the wider question of how he fit into the world. He felt out of touch with modern writers. In its infancy, the novel had been novel - of all the literary forms, it made the unique promise of showing life truthfully - but the conventions of the nineteenth-century novels Morgan revered had begun to feel a little like a cage. It seemed to him wrongheaded, even trivial these days simply to end a novel with "the old, old answer, marriage": "Artists now realise that marriage, the old full stop, is not an end at all..." Resolving a plot with marriage was part of the imperative of comedy, but the blind optimism of lesser writers seemed dishonest to him: "The writer who depicts [life as a bed of roses] may possibly be praised for his healthy simplicity. But his own conscience will never approve him, for he knows that healthiness and simplicity are not, in all cases, identical with truth. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-07-21 14:45
Reading progress update: I've read 15%.
A Passage To India - E.M. Forster

 

“Yes, as Mr McBryde was saying, but it’s much more the Anglo-Indians themselves who are likely to get on Adela’s nerves. She doesn’t think they behave pleasantly to Indians, you see.”

   “What did I tell you?” he exclaimed, losing his gentle manner. “I knew it last week. Oh, how like a woman to worry over a side-issue!”

   She forgot about Adela in her surprise. “A side-issue, a side-issue?” she repeated. “How can it be that?”

   “We’re not out here for the purpose of behaving pleasantly!”

“What do you mean?”

   “What I say. We’re out here to do justice and keep the peace. Them’s my sentiments. India isn’t a drawing-room.”

   “Your sentiments are those of a god,” she said quietly, but it was his manner rather than his sentiments that annoyed her.

   Trying to recover his temper, he said, “India likes gods.”

“And Englishmen like posing as gods.”

   “There’s no point in all this. Here we are, and we’re going to stop, and the country’s got to put up with us, gods or no gods. Oh, look here,” he broke out, rather pathetically, “what do you and Adela want me to do? Go against my class, against all the people I respect and admire out here? Lose such power as I have for doing good in this country, because my behaviour isn’t pleasant?

You neither of you understand what work is, or you’d never talk such eyewash. I hate talking like this, but one must occasionally. It’s morbidly sensitive to go on as Adela and you do. I noticed you both at the Club today—after the Collector had been at all that trouble to amuse you.

I am out here to work, mind, to hold this wretched country by force. I’m not a missionary or a Labour Member or a vague sentimental sympathetic literary man. I’m just a servant of the Government; it’s the profession you wanted me to choose myself, and that’s that. We’re not pleasant in India, and we don’t intend to be pleasant. We’ve something more important to do.”

 

Written in 1924.

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-07-21 14:08
Reading progress update: I've read 75 out of 404 pages.
E.M. Forster: A New Life - Wendy Moffat

I'm conflicted about this one so far. It's not a bad biography but I'm also not thrilled with it...

 

 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?