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Monday, March 1, 2010

Concerning E.M. Forster (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), by Frank Kermode

Book Review

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E.M. Forster was one of Britain’s best-selling literary authors a century ago, and is known nowadays to art house lovers from film adaptations of Howards End, A Passage to India and Maurice. In his perceptive and critical analysis, Frank Kermode writes that Forster “wanted to write books that would please creative people but be bought by all the others.” In other words, he was a fellow traveler of the avant-garde who wanted to remain accessible to the general public. Although identifying the narrowness of Forster’s class bias, Kermode, one of the most engaging and witty of contemporary literary critics, approves of the novelist’s distaste for the tendencies that would coalesce into late-20th-century cultural studies—especially the privileging of literary theory over the pleasure to be found in literature itself.
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