How does E. M. Forster's Howards End fit and/or defy the mold of Modernist literature as defined by Georg Lukacs in "The Ideology of Modernism"?

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Natalie Saaris | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Georg Lukacs characterizes Modernist literature by its alienation from political and social reality. For modernist writers, argues Lukacs, man is "by nature solitary, asocial, unable to enter into relationships with other human beings." The modernist protagonist is an ahistorical figure whose activities are meaningless. 

It is hard to see Howards End as a novel where characters are alienated from social and political history: the Wilcox family and the Schlegels are defined by their class and unique family history. The story itself is anchored in a particular historic moment: the Edwardian period of English history. This part of Lukacs definition of modernism does not apply.

However, the characters in Howards End do not manage to "connect": both the structure of the novel (as a series of separate plot threads) and the difficulty with which the characters relate to one another and their own needs and desires reflects reflects Lukacs' statement regarding relationships in Modernist literature.


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