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Victorian aspects/influences

Posted by Renee Damstra ( on 19:49:33 02/12/06

I'm trying to find out how to place the novel A Passage to India in the literature of that time, and I read on this board that Forster is a modernist writer with some Victorian influences. Now I can see the modernism in this book, but what are the Victorian influences in Forsters writing? Does anyone know?

Re: Victorian Aspects

Posted by Heiko (editor) on 10:12:18 03/12/06

Dear Renee,

The Edwardian era is obviously set between the Victorian era and Modernism. As history doesn't change overnight, one can expect a transitional period. And there are transitional writers, so to speak, too: Wells, Forster, Conrad, James... I think that, in Forster's case, the plots, the imagery, and most often the language are rather traditional and therefore close to Victorianism. David Medalie writes in his _E. M. Forster's Modernism_ that Forster practised a "reluctant modernism". If one tries to evaluate Forster's writings with Raymond Williams’s key features of Modernism, one will find that most often they don't fit together. (Then there are also some old-fashioned ideas in Forster’s writing, especially when it comes to cultural evaluations. English vs. Italian, English vs. Indian. They are not really modern.) But maybe somebody else can share his/her ideas…



E.M. Forster's influences

Posted by J ( on :12:56:04 05/11/12

E.M Forster lived through a time of profound change in Britain. He was born in 1879 and died in 1970 which encompasses a huge period of British and world history. From my own research I learnt he was a humanist, he believed in democracy and the 'aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky.' Forster was also affected by differences in class, because perhaps of his views as a humanist and wrote many novels on this issue e.g. 'A Room with a View' and 'A Passage to India'. Forster was also a homosexual which wasn't revealed until after his death when his cousin published a photo of him to a homosexual society. I think one can argue that Forster is influenced also by other writers; Dickens in the previous era wrote about the poor and working class in British society. Forster tends to make a mockery of his characters; especially in 'A Room with a View' in which everything the middle/upper class characters do is completely exaggerated as a terrible event e.g. a storm. The lower class characters are conveyed as being loud and disruptive. Personally, I believe Forster is using his novels to convey his message to the reader without revealing his sexuality. By showing class differences which were clearly evident and Victorian and Edwardian Britain, he is hiding behind what he feels is wrong and this covers up his views on homosexuality. He is influenced by social changes, political changes and national changes. The stiff upper lip is a key theme and Forster is making a mockery of it.

I hope this helps.
Best wishes,
j x


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