The Longest Journey
By: E.M. Forster
Rickie Elliot, a sensitive and intelligent young man with an intense imagination and a certain amount of literary talent, sets out from Cambridge full of hopes to become a writer. But when his stories are not successful he decides instead to marry the beautiful but shallow Agnes, agreeing to abandon his writing and become a schoolmaster at a second-rate public school. Giving up his hopes and values for those of the conventional world, he sinks into a world of petty conformity and bitter disappointments.
I first read E.M. Forster’s The Longest Journey a few years ago amidst crazy papers, applications and tests. Before that, I had been eyeing this book for a long time; can’t remember exactly how I came across this title (apparently it’s the least-known of his novels yet his personal favourite) but the plot intrigued me. Because I never wrote a review post about this novel the first time around, the following entry is a mix of a review and a personal commentary about the book. So without further ado, contains some spoilers ahead!
By: E.M. Forster
The Schlegels are intellectuals, devotees of art and literature. The Wilcoxes are practical and materialistic, leading lives of “telegrams and anger.” When the elder Mrs. Wilcox dies and her family discovers she has left their country home—Howards End—to one of the Schlegel sisters, a crisis between the two families is precipitated that takes years to resolve. Howards End is a symbolic exploration of the social, economic, and intellectual forces at work in England in the years preceding World War I, a time when vast social changes were occurring. In the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes, Forster perfectly embodies the competing idealism and materialism of the upper classes, while the conflict over the ownership of Howards End represents the struggle for possession of the country’s future. As critic Lionel Trilling once noted, the novel asks, “Who shall inherit England?” Forster refuses to take sides in this conflict. Instead he poses one of the book’s central questions: In a changing modern society, what should be the relation between the inner and outer life, between the world of the intellect and the world of business? Can they ever, as Forster urges, “only connect”?
This is the fourth E.M. Forster book that I’ve read. I was interested to read this because it is such a well-known work by Forster and knowing that there is an adaptation floating around out there sort of piqued by interest. Contains some spoilers ahead!
A Room With a View
By: E.M. Forster
A charming young English woman, Lucy Honeychurch, faints into the arms of a fellow Britisher when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Attracted to this man, George Emerson–who is entirely unsuitable and whose father just may be a Socialist–Lucy is soon at war with the snobbery of her class and her own conflicting desires. Back in England she is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor, and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future: she is forced to choose between convention and passion.
I’ve just re-read this novel as part of my prepartion for an article I have to write; it seemed like the right time since I had been meaning to re-read this book for some quite time now. This novel is considered by far the lightest of Forster’s works, both in terms of plot and in the outcome of the entire story. Plus, it was overall a rather short read =P
In some ways, the following post is like my previous entry on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in that I am commenting on particular aspects of the novel that I noticed in reading it this time around. However, I did try to start off this entry will my typical review format. I’ve also chosen this novel for the I Love Italy Reading Challenge that I am participating in. CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!