E. M. Forster
Length: 1019 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)
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Many aspects of writing catch a reader's attention and keep one interested in a book. E. M. Forster put many of these aspects in his books making them well written and quite interesting. He combined great characters, a decent story line, and his prolific knowledge of writing to make his books readable and enjoyable.
E. M. Forster was born on January 1, 1879, in London, England. After an education at Tonbridge School and King's College, Cambridge, he spent a year traveling in Europe. On his return, he taught at the Working Men's College and established the Independent Review, a journal that supported the progressive wing of the Liberal Party. Forster later became a member of the Bloomsbury Group that discussed literary and artistic issues. He published his first novel, Where Angels Fear to Trend, in 1905. He wrote many other novels including Longest Journey, Howard's End, and A Room with a View. As a pacifist Forster wouldn't fight in the First World War, instead he worked for the International Red Cross. Two years later Forster moved to India where he worked as a personal secretary for Mahaharajah of Dewas. This resulted in his novel, A Passage to India. When he returned to England he wrote many critiques and articles but never wrote any more novels. E. M. Forster died on June 7, 1970.
Many critics are split on E. M. Forster's writings, although most things written are positive and they all seem to agree on the same things. His use of characters and their development and his story lines all seem to be the same and have the same theme. All the characters in his books seem to contain the same elements. They are exempt from poverty, hunger, lust, and hate. They seem to have almost perfect characteristics and are never poor. None of his characters are portrayed in a relation to society; and all must choose between good and evil. ( XXXXX, #2). These characters seem less significant in themselves and more in an allegorical aspect that varies in complexity. XXXXX says,
A fascination exerted by characters who grip our minds; a wit and beauty present in an always limped style; a passionate involvement with life in all its variety; a view of existence alive to its comic incongruities and to it's tragic implications; and a steady adherence to human values which compel administration... such are leading aspects of Forster's work that continually line up.
Not one character really possesses qualities extremely different from another just different names, even throughout different books the characters remain the same. The use of the same character traits is most likely part of the fact that all of Forster's themes seem to remain constant. "Forster's three major themes are: salvation through love, deficiency of traditional Christianity, and repressiveness of English culture." (Marowski, 130). This overuse of these themes is the major criticism of Forster. His story line had quiet wit, a lyrical streak, and imaginative sympathy. His works were once criticized by saying, " he told the same story four times then told it in India," (Epstein, DIS) referring to A Passage to India. He is best known for his depiction of Edwardian society and British morality most commonly found in Howard's End. His three themes were once described as,
Forster's belief in individualism and the sanctity of personal relationships, his scan for conventionality and religion, his passion for truth and friendship, his unaffected love for art, and his intellectual romanticism. These factors abound throughout Forster's writings. (McDowell 135).
Even though Forster used the same qualities and themes in his different novels, the finished product for one particular novel by itself is outstanding.
Forster in my opinion is an average writer. He understands how to create and develop a character into someone to whom the reader can relate. This is a very important part of writing because without the characters the writer would have nothing. The characters are what get Forster's story through, and he does an excellent job introducing them and continually adding to their personality. The problem I had was in the beginning of Howard's End, all the characters sounded the same and it was very difficult to distinguish who was who without reading the page three or four times. To me as a reader, that is very agitating and can become very confusing. He creates great story lines for his books but it takes a reader six or seven chapters to ever understand what is going on. He needs to focus less on the development of characters in the novel and more on what he wants to accomplish with the novel. The entwining of character can happen as the book goes on and the plot thickens. He shows that he likes to introduce all the characters and then begin with the story. That becomes very boring; and when it goes on for six chapters, it almost becomes never ending. I disagree with many critics when he is said to have slight humorous side to his writings. I have yet to find something that I found humorous in his novels. I do like this use of the Edwardian society in Howard's End. In my mind's eye it depicts the English era and the details he gave were exquisite. I could almost picture myself there. Above all I thought he was an average writer. Once the reader gets to the main plot of Forster's novels, their interest is held. Forster's characters are introduced and used superbly but his introduction to the plot is boring and time consuming. I feel he needs to jump straight into the book and then introduce his characters the same way he has done and his writings would be superb.
E. M. Forster, although he is not a terrific writer, I do think he is quite good. Once the story line has begun and all the characters are introduced, his books are quite easy to follow. Overall he proved that even if he wrote about the same thing over and over again that his story is well written because his novels held my attention and proved quite interesting.