Read real teacher answers to our most interesting A Room with a View questions.

"A View Without a Room": Forster's Problematic Later Addition to the Novel

In 1958, Forster added a postscript to the novel called "A View Without a Room" that caught up with the fates of the various characters within the novel and brought into question the romantic closure of the novel. We learn, for example, that both Windy Corner and the hotel room at the Pension Bertolini that represent the two divergent "views" that Lucy must choose between have both been destroyed. Moreover, we also discover that George's and Lucy's marriage is not entirely happy and that when George went to fight in the Second World War he "did not remain chaste," perhaps undermining the romantic closure and seeming happy resolution of the novel. It is one of the more intriguing examples of a novelist returning to a text written many years before to guide the reader away from a possible misreading of the book.

Free Indirect Discourse and Forster's "Bouncing Narrative"

A key element of Forster's narrative technique is on particular show in A Room with a View, that of "free indirect discourse" or what Forster scholars have come to know as the "bouncing narrative." The technique is one especially on display in the opening pages of the novel where we originally encounter a narrative voice that seems to be omniscient in its statements about the Pension Bertolini as a place that reveres Englishness with its "portraits of the late Queen and the Late Poet Laureate." As readers, we passively sit back and are told of a fictional world whose description we accept just as readers would have done in 1908 when the novel was first published and when the omniscient narrative was the dominant way of telling a story.

However, in his later work Aspects of the Novel, which recounts the history of narrative art, Forster tells the reader that "the novelist must bounce us [...] that is imperative" and, indeed, he does just this in the opening pages of A Room with a View when the characters begin to "invade" the narrator's voice, expressing their views as if they were the "truth" which we accept from the narrator. The first to do this is Charlotte Bartlett when she comments, seemingly invading the narrator's perspective, that Mr. Emerson is "one of the ill-bred people whom one does meet abroad." Of course, as we later discern, this is far from the truth and Mr. Emerson is only "ill-bred" from Bartlett's own perspective and, indeed, his "view" will become the dominant one as the narrative goes on. Indeed, a little later on in the same episode, we also see Lucy "invade" the narrator's view in a comic display of reticence in which she describes how the "old man attacked Miss Bartlett almost violently" (it is, of course, difficult to attack someone in an "almost violent" manner).

This tactic is one deliberately employed throughout the novel in which Forster is able to subtly introduce and allow the reader to question the various "views" of the different characters.