Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Cambridge University

*Cambridge University. Prestigious English institution of higher learning at which Rickie is studying through the first part of the novel. Rickie’s rooms at one of the colleges are closely identified with a happy and inquiring frame of mind, all the more so as his intellectual hero, student-philosopher Steward Ansell, is nearby. Rickie’s drawing room has a fireplace, a sofa, a table, chairs, a piano, and a painting on a wall. The opening scene set here keynotes the entire novel inasmuch as Rickie and his fellow students, led by Ansell, are having a philosophical discussion on the nature of reality.

With no permanent home since he was orphaned at fifteen, and crippled by a congenital foot deformity, Rickie regards Cambridge as a secluded shelter between the stormy seas of his unhappy childhood and the uncertain world awaiting him in the future. Cambridge stands for friendliness, sensitivity, and mutual consideration. As he does with people, Rickie endows places with absolute beauty and goodness.

Sawston School

Sawston School. Boarding and day school for boys in an unspecified suburban community where Rickie goes to teach. There, he lives with his new wife, Agnes, and her brother, Herbert Pembroke, the master of Dunwood House, the school’s largest building. There, Rickie shares a study with Herbert. The house’s large saffron drawing room is full of cozy corners and dumpy chairs that receive parents. Nothing...

(The entire section is 611 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Beauman, Nicola. E. M. Forster: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. Shows clearly the autobiographical elements of The Longest Journey, including how Forster’s relationship with a close friend at Tonbridge School parallels the Rickie-Stewart relationship. Argues that the novel was influenced by Forster’s reading of Edward Carpenter, an English philosopher and social critic.

Furbank. P. N. E. M. Foster: A Life. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978. Comprehensive biography with many details about Forster’s life and ideas. Provides details of his schooling and how he used his own public school, Tonbridge, as a model for Sawston School in the novel. Includes a good discussion of Forster’s residency at Cambridge.

Godfrey, Denis. E. M. Forster’s Other Kingdom. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1968. Focuses on Rickie’s unconscious search for salvation and sees his acknowledgement of Stephen as a sort of acceptance of nature, which is always in conflict with the modern world. Argues that until Rickie accepts his half brother, he cannot understand himself.

Land, Stephen K. Challenge and Conventionality in the Fiction of E. M. Forster. New York; AMS Press, 1990. Finds The Longest Journey interesting because of the depth of the evolution of Rickie. Argues that Forster’s primary theme is the conflict between conventional and liberal worlds as symbolized by the characters in the novel.

Rosecrance, Barbara. Forster’s Narrative Vision. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1982. Points out that while The Longest Journey ends tragically with Rickie’s death, it also concludes on an affirmative note of hope for the future. Demonstrates how Forster’s second novel is markedly better than his first, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905).