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Fiction and E.M. Forster

Frank Kermode: At the Cost of Life, 10 May 2007

... E.M. Forster wrote a surprising amount of criticism of one kind or another, but he believed that criticism was of almost no use to art or to artists. He certainly regarded himself as an artist, and his own art was fiction, but he said firmly, in a broadcast of 1944, that ‘the novel . . . has not any rules and so there is no such thing as the art of fiction ...

Morgan to his Friends

Denis Donoghue, 2 August 1984

Selected Letters of E.M. ForsterVol. I: 1879-1920 
edited by Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank.
Collins, 344 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 00 216718 2
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... On 10 February 1915 E.M. Forster visited D.H. and Frieda Lawrence at Greatham. The visit went off reasonably well, by the standards appropriate to those participants. The men, according to Forster, ‘had a two hours walk in the glorious country’ between Greatham and Arundel. Lawrence told Forster ‘all about his people – drunken father, sister who married a tailor, etc: most gay and friendly, with breaks to look at birds, catkins, etc ...

Sly Digs

Frank Kermode: E.M. Forster as Critic, 25 September 2008

‘The Creator as Critic’ and Other Writings 
by E.M. Forster, edited by Jeffrey Heath.
Dundurn, 814 pp., £45, March 2008, 978 1 55002 522 4
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... This volume contains 30 broadcasts and 40 uncollected essays, talks and lectures written by E.M. Forster between his time as a 19th-century undergraduate and his candid old age, when, in his eighties, he jotted down a memorandum about his sex life. The broadcasts and essays fill about three hundred pages of this collection, which means some five hundred pages are occupied by appendices, a bibliography and, above all, annotations ...

Connections

D.A.N. Jones, 5 March 1987

This Small Cloud: A Personal Memoir 
by Harry Daley.
Weidenfeld, 241 pp., £12.95, February 1987, 0 297 78999 6
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... We are not concerned with the very poor,’ wrote E.M. Forster, with heavy irony. ‘They are unthinkable, and only to be approached by the statistician or the poet.’ He was almost thirty when he wrote this, thinking about the unthinkable, in Howards End. Some fifteen years later he met (and apparently fell in love with) Police Constable Harry Daley, twenty years his junior ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: Burning Letters, 7 July 1988

... the Susan Hill collection at Eton College Library, and that Andrew Motion wrote a letter to E.M. Forster in ‘?1970’ which is under ‘restricted access’ at King’s College Cambridge. But as a writer, listed – however laconically – in the catalogue, I pondered its two volumes with welling unease. The first thing that strikes you is the ...

Cover Stories

Patrick Parrinder, 4 April 1985

Lives of the Poets: A Novella and Six Stories 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 145 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 7181 2529 0
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The Pork Butcher 
by David Hughes.
Constable, 123 pp., £5.95, April 1984, 0 09 465510 3
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Out of the Blue 
by John Milne.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 241 11489 6
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... among novelists have sometimes been anxious to disclaim the form’s own origins. As E.M. Forster wearily put it, ‘Yes – oh dear yes – the novel tells a story.’ But storytelling will outlive the novel, and it is also elemental to the novel. It is not coincidental that each of the books under review ends with the lure of a further, untold ...

Kinks on the Kinks

Michael Wood: Plots, 5 May 2016

Plots 
by Robert Belknap.
Columbia, 165 pp., £22, May 2016, 978 0 231 17782 5
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... The​ king died and then the queen died’ is a story, as E.M. Forster told us long ago. ‘The king died and then the queen died of grief’ is a plot. Another plot, a little more reticent about causality, would be: ‘The king died and the queen married his brother.’ This would include Hamlet’s version of what happened in Elsinore – my uncle killed my father and married my mother – but would not be confined to it, and this is the kind of plot Robert Belknap is most interested in ...

Forster in Cambridge

Richard Shone, 30 July 2020

... My first sight​ of E.M. Forster was of him coming towards me on Clare Bridge in Cambridge. It was a cold afternoon in November 1968 and Forster was on his way back to King’s College, next door to Clare, where I was in my first term as an undergraduate. He was wearing a thick coat, striped tie and flat cap, and walked with a stick ...

Here she is

Frank Kermode: Zadie Smith, 6 October 2005

On Beauty 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 446 pp., £16.99, September 2005, 0 241 14293 8
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... What makes this novel a bit unusual is that it is conceived as an act of homage to E.M. Forster, ‘to whom’, the author writes, ‘all my fiction is indebted, one way or the other’. The acknowledgment is obscure and ‘one way or the other’ could, but probably doesn’t, mean ‘both by attraction and repulsion ...

A Proper Stoic

John Bayley, 8 May 1986

Duff Cooper: The Authorised Biography 
by John Charmley.
Weidenfeld, 265 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 297 78857 4
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... again. She ignores this news and gives him a smiling farewell as she gets into her carriage. E.M. Forster thought the scene one of the most odious in the novel, or rather in the Novel, and he seems to assume, rather naively, that Proust is as shocked by the incident as he is. Forster’s reaction suggests the existence of ...

Browning Versions

J.I.M. Stewart, 5 July 1984

Oscar Browning: A Biography 
by Ian Anstruther.
Murray, 209 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 9780719540783
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... Dickinson, who as an undergraduate had been much influenced by O.B., admired it greatly. E.M. Forster, briefly O.B.’s pupil (or at least a reader of essays to him while he slumbered under an enormous red handkerchief), described it in 1934 as ‘one of the best biographies of the last few years – quite unsparing and completely sympathetic’. These ...

Something about her eyes

Patricia Beer, 24 June 1993

Daphne du Maurier 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 455 pp., £17.99, March 1993, 0 7011 3699 5
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... would themselves have sunk without trace. Interestingly, the opening paragraph of Margaret Forster’s Daphne du Maurier makes good use of this particular technique: ‘Sheet-lightning split the sky over London on the evening of 12 May 1907 and thunder rumbled long into the night. All day it had been sultry, the trees in Regent’s Park barely moving ...

Fat and Fretful

John Bayley, 18 April 1996

Foreign Country: The Life of L.P. Hartley 
by Adrian Wright.
Deutsch, 304 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 233 98976 5
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... The only time L.P. Hartley met E.M. Forster they did not get on. Too much politeness, and mutual wariness. And what a comedy in contrasting physiques: Forster sharp, quizzical and birdlike; Hartley plump, vacant, moustached and apologetic, half walrus and half melting snowman, pipe in mouth ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... In 1929 E.M. Forster accompanied his close friend Florence Barger and her husband to a conference in South Africa, and kept a detailed journal of the two-month round trip. After the conference they left Pretoria to join a ship at the port of Beira in Mozambique: Levant at last – those trudging squares and triangles between houses that I remember from Port Said in 1912, a plank missing from the footbridge, natives grading into Portuguese without shame, a grilling sea-wall, its pavement burst up by the waves, houses built on white piles, with chickens ducks cookery and washing sharing the basement, a desolate and grilling public garden, and the sea full of floating brown pennies of oil ...

Going on the air

Philip French, 2 May 1985

Orwell: The War Broadcasts 
edited by W.J. West.
Duckworth/BBC, 304 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 7156 1916 0
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... contribution to the canon. By far the best piece of writing in the central section is by E.M. Forster, Orwell’s most dedicated contributor. The homosexual author of A Passage to India (serialised in German radio broadcasts to India in 1940 as anti-British propaganda) and the homophobic author of Burmese Days found common cause in the country’s hour of ...

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