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Forster and "Culture"

Posted by Jason Finch ( on 18:51:49 08/03/03

Does anyone know what Forster thought about Matthew Arnold's idea of "culture" (in the sense of "the best that has been thought or said"), particularly fairly early on (to 1910 or so)?

Early work

Posted by Laura (board editor) on 17:51:46 10/03/03

As your asking for material dating from 'to 1910 or so' the compilations of essays and broadcasts won't be a very good source - these are mostly from the 1920s and later. Of all the novels it is obviously Howards End that deals most directly with the topic of culture, though all novels, also the earlier ones, are connected to it. If you'd like to read some of Forster's really early work - including things he wrote while he was an undergraduate at Cambridge U. - this might be a very interesting source for you:

Forster, E.M. and George H. Thomson [editor]. Albergo Empedocle and Other Early Writings. New York: Liveright, 1971.

The book is listed in the good (and larger) libraries but of course you could also try to track down a second-hand copy (the book is out-of-print). It's a nice book. But of course if you read Howards End carefully, especially the opposition Schlegel-Wilcoxes, that will tell you a lot as well.


same again

Posted by Jason Finch ( on :02:00:19 14/03/03

Thanks Laura for this reference.

I'm in Estonia so struggle a bit for decent libraries but Finland is a possibility, or inter-library loans.

I was also wondering about critical work on Forster and this topic - do you know any?

critical work

Posted by Laura (board editor) on 19:00:27 06/04/03

Hi Jason,

By the way, did you know that Lionel Trilling wrote on both Matthew Arnold and E.M. Forster? It's a pity for you that it was subsequently, not simultaneously .

Moving on to your question. In a very specialized sense I don't think anything exists - although you could of course always try and trace the 'grey' literature (dissertations; good libraries have them listed but as you say good libraries are a problem for you now that would not be an option). Or, what I would recommend, take books that have a general approach (culture and Forster) and try to find the bits you need. Browse them and/or check the index for ‘Matthew Arnold’. This is often the only option if you broach upon a relatively new subject. Some examples of culture-related Forster books might be:

Stone, Wilfred. The Cave and the Mountain. [an excellent piece of research, one of the best books dealing with Forster!]

Johnstone, J.K. The Bloomsbury Group &c. [this would have to be very helpful as it places Forster in a broader cultural context]

Another clue might be that in the Nation of November 1910, it was remarked by a reviewer that Howards End was remarkable for "its far-sighted criticism of Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy". I'm not sure if this review is included, but it might be worthwhile to check this book:

Gardner, Philip.

E. M. Forster: The Critical Heritage.

London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973.

This is a great source for contemporary criticism that might include this review or at least other contemporary reactions to Howards End and culture. Or maybe you can obtain a photocopy of the article (Nation) through interlibrary facilities. Other than this, the only advice can be to browse bibliographies of Forster-related books. Good luck!


A wonderful site !!!

Posted by linye ( on 08:47:38 29/04/03

I'm a university student in P.R.China.Today I get on net to search for some information concerning my graduation paper--A passage to India.And through search engine ,I get here.
I find this website amazingly good!!You offer so detailed info and relevant quick links.Thank you very much!!

more culture

Posted by Jason Finch ( on 22:23:10 21/05/03

Hi Laura,

I have only just come back to the site after a long period of browsing in libraries, including some of the things you suggested: Trilling, The Critical Heritage book, etc. My paper got narrowed down (by me)to the short stories in "The Celestial Omnibus", which have proved surprisingly rich and complex in ideas, considering that they are often dismissed as ephemeral.

Anyway, I just wanted to say another thank you for your help.



Posted by Laura (board editor) on 21:50:03 23/05/03

That's great Jason! It seems a very interesting subject. The short stories are indeed beautiful, one of my favourites is 'The Other Kingdom'. It has something of "A Room with a View" too - with the triangle with the superficial lover and the eventual 'true' lover. There's a very interesting article on 'The Other Kingdom' of which Heiko has placed a link on the site (please see 'Links'), that might be of interest to you.

Good luck with your project!



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