Aspects of the Novel

by E. M. Forster

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Forster discusses many of the major novelists of the English language, as well as several French and Russian writers. Pick one author from the list of Key Figures in this entry and learn more about that author and her or his major works.

Forster discusses seven aspects he deems essential to the novel: story, plot, character, fantasy, prophesy, pattern, and rhythm . Pick a work of fiction not specifically mentioned by Forster and analyze it in terms of these seven elements. How well does it measure up to Forster’s standards? Do you agree with this assessment?

Although Forster discusses elements specific to the novel, they may also be applied to the short story. Try writing a short story which takes into account each of the seven aspects discussed by Forster.

Two years after Forster’s lecture series on Aspects of the Novel, Virginia Woolf, his contemporary and a fellow member of the Bloomsbury Group, wrote a very different critical work on literature and literary history, a book-length essay entitled A Room of One’s Own. Read A Room of One’s Own. What are the central points of Woolf’s discussion of literature in this essay? To what extent do you agree or disagree with her arguments and conclusions?

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