E. M. Forster and Virginia Woolf were the literary leaders of the Bloomsbury Group, a circle of intellectuals who gathered regularly in London in the first two decades of the twentieth century to discuss art and aesthetics. The circle also included the economist John Maynard Keynes, the painters Vanessa and Clive Bell, and the philosopher and critic Lytton Strachey. From the group’s wide-ranging discussions, Forster often received ideas about art that he later incorporated into his fiction. Forster became noted for his deft style, complex characters, and important themes.
Although he is best remembered for his acknowledged masterpieces Howards End (1910) and A Passage to India (1924), Forster’s earlier novels and short stories often point in the direction to which his later fiction turned. These earlier works are usually concerned with how people living in a modern world lack the passion necessary for a complete life. To make his point, Forster often contrasts the passionate intensity of people in southern European countries with the flaccid people of his native England. Typically, a character in one of these stories travels from England to Greece or Rome and there undergoes a revelation. In Forster’s famous short story “The Road from Colonus” (1903), for example, Mr. Lucas discovers passion at an idyllic spring in Greece. His daughter forces him to return to England, however, and he subsequently dies a miserable and lonely old...
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