E. M. Forster (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Among American readers, the name of E. M. Forster does not loom large. Because A Passage to India has sometimes been taught in high school and college curricula as a representative of the modern British novel, some readers will remember Forster’s name; but the majority will have forgotten him. An unassuming character himself, Forster wrote unassuming novels. He dealt with central human concerns in his books, but he was never the flashy kind of writer who starts trends. His characters were types he was familiar with in Edwardian England, holdovers from the Victorian period. In a sense his life was also a kind of holdover, with a cognizant refrain from sexual liberation and inherent frustrations but with a deep-felt affection for associates.
Forster was a fine man and a fine writer, and P. N. Furbank has written a fine biography to present his life. E. M. Forster: A Life follows a prescription Forster himself uttered forty-five years ago. In a letter to Joe Ackerley in which he commented on the necessity of omissions from Lowes Dickinson’s biography, Forster asserted that he should want “every thing told, everything” when his own biography was to be written. As a result of following such a direction, Furbank has written not only a sensitive biography but also a sensible one that answers those questions we are likely to ask about Forster’s life, with its richly diverse mixture of experiences, acquaintances, and frustrations....
(The entire section is 2050 words.)
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