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Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970)

 

 

English author and critic, member of Bloomsbury group and friend of

Virginia Woolf. After gaining fame as a novelist, Forster spent his 46

remaining years publishing mainly short stories and non-fiction. Of his

five important novels four appeared before World War I. Forster's major

concern was that individuals should 'connect the prose with the passion'

within themselves, and that one of the most exacting aspect of the novel

is prophecy.

 

"If human nature does alter it will be because individuals manage to

look at themselves in a new way. Here and there people - a very few

people, but a few novelists are among them - are trying to do this.

Every institution and vested interest in against such a search:

organized religion, the State, the family in its economic aspect, have

nothing to gain, and it is only when outward prohibitions weaken that it

can proceed: history conditions it to that extent." (from Aspects of the

Novel, 1927)

 

Edward Morgan Forster was born in London as the son of an architect, who

died before his only child was two years old. Forster's childhood and

much of his adult life was dominated by his mother and his aunts. The

legacy of her paternal great-aunt Marianne Thornton, descendant of the

Clapham Sect of evangelists and reformers, gave later Forster the

freedom to travel and to write. Forster's years at Tonbridge School as a

teenager were difficult - he suffered from the cruelty of his

classmates.

 

Forster attended King's College, Cambridge (1897-1901), where he met

members of the later formed Bloomsbury group. In the atmosphere of

skepticism, he became under the influence of Sir Jamer Frazer, Nathaniel

Wedd, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, and G.E. Moore, and shed his not very

deep Christian faith. After graduating he travelled in Italy and Greece

with his mother, and on his return began to write essays and short

stories for the liberal Independent Review. In 1905 Foster spent several

month in German as tutor to the children of the Countess von Armin.

 

In the same year appeared his first novel, WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD.

In the following year he lectured on Italian art and history for the

Cambridge Local Lectures Board. In 1907 appeared THE LONGEST JOURNEY,

then A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1908), based partly on the material from

extended holidays in Italy with his mother. The first part of the novel

is set in Florence, where the young Lucy Honeychurch is visitng with her

older cousin Charlotte Bartless. Lucy witnesses a murder and becomes

caught between two man, shallow, conventional Cecil Vyse and George

Emerson, who kisses Lucy during a picnic. The second half of the novel

takes place at Windy Corner, Lucy's home on Summer Street. She accepts a

marriage proposal from Cecil. The Emerson become friends of the

Honeychurches after George, Mr. Beebe, who is a clergyman, and Freddie,

Lucy's brother, are discovered bathing nude in the woods. Finally Lucy

overcomes prejudices and marries George. Forster also wrote during the

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