A collection of lectures given by EM Forster at Trinity College in Cambridge in 1927, touching on all aspects of the novel from story and people to what Forster calls “fantasy” and “prophecy.”
A delicious gem of a book. Forster’s prose is gorgeous, and I want to read every book he mentions that I haven’t already. I will be ruminating on what I’ve read in here for quite some time, and this is a book I will revisit many times. Rather than try to boil Forster’s work down into a glib essence, I’ll give you a taste of what Forster has to offer:
Any fictitious prose work over 50,000 words will be a novel for the purposes of these lectures, and if seems to you unphilosophic will you think of an alternative definition, which will include The Pilgrim’s Progress, Marius the Epicurean, The Adventures of a Younger Son, The Magic Flute, The Journal of the Plague, Zuleika Dobson, Rasselas, Ulysses, and Green Mansions, or else will you give reasons for their exclusion? Parts of our spongy tract seem more fictitious than other parts, it is true: near the middle, on a tump of grass, stand Miss Austen with the figure of Emma by her side, and Thackeray holding up Esmond. But no intelligent remark known to me will define the tract as a whole. All we can say of it is that it is bounded by two chains of mountains neither of which rises very abruptly–the opposing ranges of Poetry and History–and bounded on the third side by a sea–a sea that we will encounter when we come to Moby Dick.