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E. M. Forster
E. M. Forster’s life
Birth: 1879 born in London, son of an architect
 Aunt: Marianne Thornton, leaving Forster
₤8.000, enough for him to live on and enabled
him to become a writer.
 King’s College, Cambridge: 1897-1901
 Bloomsbury Group: 1910s-1920s. In the
atmosphere of skepticism, he became under the
influence of Sir Jamer Frazer, Nathaniel Wedd,
Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, and G.E. Moore,
and shed his not very deep Christian faith.
E. M. Forster’s Life
Travel: Italy and Greece with his mother; Egypt,
Germany and India with the Classicist
Goldworthy Lowes Dickinson in 1914
 Lovers:
 1. Mohammed el-Adl, 1916-17 in Alexandria,
Egypt; “Good-night, my lad, for nought’s eternal;
No league of ours, for sure”
 2. Kanaya, 1920s in India, first ongoing sexual
relationship of his life
E. M. Forster’s Life
After the age of 45: stopping writing novels,
producing little more fiction apart from short
stories only for himself and a small circle of
 Successful BBC broadcaster in the 1930s and
 Honorary fellowship at King’s College,
 Death: died in Coventry at the age of 91 in 1970.
E. M. Forster
List of Works by E. M. Forster
Film Adaptations
Key themes in Forster’s novels
1. The pursuit of personal connections in
spite of the restrictions of contemporary
 2. The irreconcilability of class differences
 3. Sexuality: a general shift from
heterosexual love to homosexual love over
the course of his writing career. (the
posthumously published novel Maurice and
the short-story collection The Life to Come
Forster’s Novel: Howards End
Plot summary: SparkNotes
Directed by James Ivory, 1992
Emma Thompson, the best actress
Howards End
(directed by James Ivory, 1987)
 A homosexual
love story
 Plot Summary: Wikipedia
A Passage to India (1984
directed by David Lean)
 Plot
Summary: novel film
A Passage to India
Published in 1924, the last completed novel that
Forster published during his lifetime.
Major Characters in the novel:
1. Dr. Aziz:
2. Cyril Fielding
3. Adela Quested
4. Mrs. Moore
5. Professor Narayan Godbole
6. Ronny Heaslop
A Passage to India (1984
directed by David Lean)
 Themes:
 1.
the difficulty of friendship between an
Englishman (the colonist) and an Indian
(the colonized)
 2. the racism and oppression of the British
who rule India
 3. the “muddle” of Indian civilization and
psychology, and the oneness (and
perhaps sameness) of all life
A Room with a View
in 1908, Forster’s most famous
and popular novel.
 Time background: the British Empire’s
zenith, the Brits enjoyed the fruits of a
system of exploitation and oppression
 Spatial background:
 Part I and the last chapter: Florence, Italy
 Part II: Surrey, England
 Published
A Room with a View
Cultural and Social background:
1. The remnants of Victorian sensibilities:
A. refinement
B. the virtue of young girls
C. the control of passions
2. A time of change:
A. Women began to clamor more loudly than ever
for equal rights
B. Socialists were challenging old ideas about class
and religion
C. Artists and thinkers began to challenge Victorian
attitudes about emotion and sexuality
A Room with a View
 Major
 1. Propriety and Passion
 2. The beauty of human beings
 3. Travel and the idea of Italy
 4. The beautiful and the delicate
 5. Woman’s position and independence
 6. Connection between nature and man
A Room with a View
 Major
 7. Passion and the body
 8. The Medieval/the Renaissance/the
 9. Music
 10. The muddle
 11. Class snobbery
A Room with a View
 Symbolic
meanings of “rooms” and
 “rooms”: conservative and uncreative, e.g.
Mrs Honeychurch, Cecil usually pictured in
a room
 “views”: forward-thinking and modern
character types, e.g. Freddy and the
Emersons often described as being
A Room with a View
The symbolic differences between Italy and
England: Forster idealized Italy as a place of
freedom and sexual expression. Italy promised
raw, natural passion that inspired many Britons
at the time who wished to escape the
constrictions of English society. While Lucy is in
Italy her views of the world change dramatically,
and scenes such as the murder in the piazza
open her eyes to a world beyond her “protected
life in Windy Corner”.
The Essay Topic
 To
understand E. M. Forster’s novel A
Room with a View, it is critical to have a
sound background knowledge about the
Victorian era, especially the Victorian
attitudes about emotion and sexuality,
women’s position in this time. Write an
essay about 3-5 pages to explore the
aforementioned background knowledge.