Saturday, March 19, 2016

E. M. Forster

My first exposure to the writing of E. M. Forster came years ago in the form of Howards End, a book I remember enjoying, but which wasn't, I don't seem to recall, the easiest read. 

Now, I've taken up Forster's A Room with a View - and I must say: what a great book. For one, it's a simpler novel than Howards End. The writing I found to be more clear, the syntax more agreeable. 

But that's not to say it's a simple book - because it's decidedly not. Instead, it's a novel that knows what it sets out to do: namely, poke holes at antiquated - often religious - notions of love. For all his politesse, Forster could be quite pointed in his critique, associating religion with the medieval, and the medieval with a sort of imprisonment. 

A Room with a View is a novel in praise of modernity, and thus of modern conceptions of love. Forster's main character, Lucy Honeychurch, manifests this praise, transitioning in her behavior and decisions from the old to the new, reaching across social strata - and more - to realize her love. 

And this is what I liked most about Forster's book: its directness, its clear moral message, its courage. Lucy moves from a room without a view (and a stuffy one at that), to a room with one, and in so doing, crosses the symbolic abyss separating fate from free will.   

The last word is reserved for Forster: 

"Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice..."

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