Authors We Love: Edward Morgan Forster

E.M. Forster | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica

Forster’s eyes were sharp when he looked down to diagnose industrial-age Englishmen, and he saw signs of illness, but when he looked up to give directions to his fellow-patients, the prescriptions were never right. The direction he seeks is always out of history and reality, so the mismatch between diagnosis and prescription is inevitable. In fact, the other culture did not allow Forster, who had a dual cultural identity and consciousness, to truly wander between the different cultures and face the panic and emptiness in the heart of the British middle class as a man who lived safely on the edge of cultural transition. He could only view the world from the perspective of bourgeois freedom and humanism. The internal contradiction of cultural identity forced him to violate the logic of life and culture and turned the connection into a diagram of his subjective desire, so the internal rupture of his works was difficult to be dispelled. As the representative of the traveling class, Forster took the British culture as the reference point and starting point, and looked at the countries and people he visited with some kind of overlooking eye. The imprint of British-centralism spreads with the extension of his vision as a British, and also with his anxiety about the future and destiny of the British empire. Forster did not oppose the humanism spirit rooted in the core of European culture for thousands of years since ancient Greece and Rome. From the standpoint of the cultural elite of the middle class, he hoped to transform the cultural tradition and make it elegant and interesting, to express the spiritual needs and tastes of the cultural elite of the middle class and reflect their voices. Forster represented the life of the British middle class in his works of art with great expressiveness and insight.

He was not concerned with countries or politics or economics, but with the friendship between people, the value of people, the perfection of human nature and the communication between different cultures. In other words, he was interested in the relationship between people and the conflict, estrangement, divergence and difference that these relationships reflect. Forster called on people to abandon the blind adherence to British moral concepts and social traditional customs, to eliminate individual, gender, class and race prejudice and estrangement, and to find common ground among human beings. Forster advocates an infinite and inclusive love in a multicultural world, regardless of nationality, religion, class or belief. At the same time that he made the appeal for connection, he was always aware of the difficulty of connection. The awkwardness and failure of the east-west cultural connection in A Passage to India caused Forster to have doubts and confusion about the reality of integration. These doubts and perplexities are also reflected in the creation of novels. For example, the marriage between Margaret and Henry in Howard’s Divorce has no credibility. These doubts and perplexities are also reflected in the creation of novels. For example, the marriage between Margaret and Henry in Howards End has no credibility. Margaret chose Henry as her connection object out of the need of the plot of the novel. The focus of the novel’s narration originally lies in the expression of profound estrangement. Another example is the mental state of the characters under colonial rule in A Passage to India. Aziz’s attitude towards the Indians is mixed with several states of gallantry in humiliation, helplessness in hatred and awakening in anesthesia.

Fielding is the continuation of Forster’s desire to connect, the embodiment of the ideal. Therefore, in the novel texts, readers often feel the contradictions and entanglements between Forster’s idealism complex and his actions of knowing the connection is not feasible. As a famous English critic and theorist, Forster plays an important role in the history of Western literature, which is inevitably influenced by the special social and cultural conditions at that time. Forster’s unique life experience and implicit homosexuality, as well as his deep feelings towards the east-west antagonistic background after his three trips to India, made him construct the utopian dream of connecting different nationalities, countries and classes with the good wishes of the world. Forster’s novels are famous for their complex, obscure and confusing themes. A general survey of Forster’s novels reveals that their themes are not clear and single, and it can even be said that their features are mixed. Therefore, in the process of reading, they can constantly provide readers with the stimulation of new reading horizons, and at the same time bring them more confusion about the content and significance of the works. About Adela’s experience in the cave, the author is no longer omnipotent and omniscient, but just as in the dark as the reader. The mystery of prophecy is not to be solved, but to be marveled at. This narrative method leaves readers a great imagination space, and also effectively reflects the multi-level theme of the work. The theory of intertextuality coincides with his purpose of writing. By exploring the intertextuality in his novels, it opens up a new way for his research.

In this way, a thorough exploration of his novels reveals that the seemingly chaotic theme actually contains the same meaning, that is, the response to the intellectual’s mental dilemma in the Edwardian period of England, trying to find a new standard of ethics and morality and explore the way to the realm of perfection. When Forster was writing novels, he inherited the social moral theme of 19th century realistic writers such as Jane Austen and Dickens. His novels reflect the social reality at that time, with a strong sense of social responsibility. Through A Passage to India, Forster mercilessly exposed the colonial rule of Britain and strongly criticized the racism of white supremacy. In A Room with A View, it criticizes the marriage based on property and praises the love of choosing partners from the angle of humanity and compatibility. In Where Angels Fear to Tread, Forster criticizes the conservative, isolated and selfish British culture and praises the open and enthusiastic Italian culture by comparing the British and Italian cultures. Reading Forster’s novels, we can feel the author’s deep concern for people. An important theme running through all of Forster’s works is to expose the banal and false moral concepts and social norms of the British middle class, and to expose the traditional prejudices that restrict people’s minds and hearts. In Forster’s novels, we can see the contrast technique commonly used in the traditional English creation. Forster is good at expressing his views through the contrast between characters and scenes.

For example, in A Room with A View, Forster cleverly compared Italy and Britain through the arrangement of scenes to show the differences and conflicts between the two cultures. He also made full use of the contrast between George and Cecil to show the conflicts between the two cultures and concepts. Cecil is a person who refuses to admit and tries to hide his natural and sacred feelings. He is immature in his feelings. He is a disparaging character in Forster’s works. In stark contrast to him was the straightforward, bold, passionate George. Like his father, he never hides his opinions and feelings. In his works, Forster used symbolism a great deal, and reached the point of proficiency. Among Forster’s six novels, the titles of four novels have obvious symbolic significance. A Passage to India takes its title from the poem of the same name by Walt Whitman. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1902 greatly shortened the journey time from England to India. The poet praised the progress of human science and technology linking different countries together. Whitman’s poem is full of light romantic, optimistic and positive emotions. But Forster chose A Passage To India as the title of his novel, which has an ironic meaning. Forster borrowed the term “rhythm” from music and successfully applied it to his novels. Forster’s major novels all have different complex rhythms, just as different music has different rhythms. For example, Ansell painted circles within circles and streams in The Longest Journey, the image of water in A Room with A View, the archetype of fire and the image of wasps in A Passage to India. The recurring, repetition and changes of the key words “moon”, “flower”, “mending” and “ghost” in Howards End make the novel coherent, rhythmic and musical. Forster emphasized the relationship between people and the value and integrity of people. Some of his characters, such as Lucy in A Room with a View, the Schlegel sisters in Howards End and Fielding and Adela in A Passage To India, were spokesmen for Forster’s values. In A Room with a View, Lucy abandoned the bargaining chip of property and chose her lover from the emotional perspective of human nature and mutual affection between men and women. Her choice represents a middle-class yearning for freedom. Through these descriptions, Forster’s humanistic thought of eliminating prejudice has fully demonstrated that his novels have complete story plots and rich characters, and a large number of artistic creation techniques such as comparison and satire rooted in the tradition of English literature.

-Coreen C.

Book Review: The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

joy_luck_clubInsightful, heart-warming, and beautifully crafted, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club portrays mother-daughter relationships that must endure both generation and culture gaps. Each of the four Chinese-immigrant mothers narrates their past of growing up in China and immigrating to America. They also describe their struggles to raise daughters who won’t forget their Chinese heritage and values, as well as the legend of their mothers. On the other hand, the four American-born daughters strive to separate themselves from their mothers and find their own identities in America.

While reading, you will learn to be open-minded, as this will allow you to enjoy and understand the intended overall meaning of The Joy Luck Club. The novel teaches many important lessons that include being accepting toward different cultures, never judging someone from just their appearance, appreciating your parents, and being grateful for all of the opportunities we have in America. Many countries’ cultures are very different than the American culture, so we must always respect their customs. In addition, each daughter views their mother as weak and embarrassing to be around in the beginning. Once they begin to listen and see their mothers in an entirely different light, they discover that their mothers have experienced and sacrificed a lot for them to grow up and have a better life. This also leads them to be thankful for all the opportunities they are able to have, unlike their mothers, who grew up in China. All in all, both mother and daughters learn to discover the true meaning of love and come to accept each other for who they truly are.

I would definitely recommend this touching novel to anyone over the age of fourteen, since some mature topics are discussed. I especially recommend The Joy Luck Club to mothers and daughters because it will remind you of the significance of the unbreakable relationship and how important family is. Amy Tan is a remarkable author, and through her writing, she is able to weave a series of short stories into one complete, fulfilling novel.

-Kaylie W., 9th grade