Register Guidelines E-Books Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Go Back   MobileRead Forums > E-Book General > Reading Recommendations > Book Clubs

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 02-05-2017, 08:29 PM   #1
Bookpossum
Snoozing in the sun
Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Bookpossum's Avatar
 
Posts: 9,511
Karma: 96177989
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Device: iPad Mini, Kobo Touch
Aspects of the Novel by E M Forster

Forster’s book contains a series of lectures which he gave in 1927 at Trinity College, Cambridge. Its 'lively, informed originality and wit have made this book a classic. Avoiding the chronological approach of what he calls “pseudoscholarship,” he freely examines aspects all English-language novels have in common: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.' (Goodreads)

This is the MR Literary Club selection for February 2017. Whether you've already read it or would like to, feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time, and guests are always welcome! So, what are your thoughts on it?


Last edited by Bookpossum; 02-05-2017 at 08:38 PM.
Bookpossum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2017, 02:58 PM   #2
fantasyfan
Wizard
fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
fantasyfan's Avatar
 
Posts: 1,211
Karma: 24458020
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ireland
Device: Kindle 3 (wifi only) Kindle Paperwhite 2G Wi-Fi only, iPad, iPod Touch
I have the old Penguin Edition of the book which has an interesting introduction by Oliver Stallybrass who notes the excellent reception Forster's lectures received. He notes that their appeal was not universal. There was at least one more typical critic who didn't approve at all of Forster's very witty and individual approach.

F. R. Leavis attended them all and noted what he considered to be their "intellectual nullity". Stallybrass continues:

"For him [Leavis] the explanation of Forster's 'demonstratively sympathetic reception' and "gruesome" success with his--'certainly his'--capacity audience, is that the latter consisted largely of 'sillier dons' wives and their friends."

The sexism of his view is fairly obvious but there were a large number of dons also present. One Fellow of King's described him thus:

"Morgan never pontificated; he was never doctrinaire; never condescending or supercilious. Above all, although he never raised his voice, he never mumbled. The lectures, as he says in the printed version, were 'informal, indeed talkative. . . The best of the Clark lecturers who followed him have succeeded for the same reason. They have talked, as Morgan was to do most memorably on the air . . . they talked to 'the Common Reader'."

Forster was a fine novelist and what we get in these lectures, I personally feel, are wonderful and frequently useful insights of a genuine practitioner into the intrinsic nature of that "amorphous" and "formidable mass" we call the Novel.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 02-07-2017 at 04:40 PM.
fantasyfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Advert
Old 02-07-2017, 05:32 PM   #3
Bookpossum
Snoozing in the sun
Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Bookpossum's Avatar
 
Posts: 9,511
Karma: 96177989
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Device: iPad Mini, Kobo Touch
That's an interesting extra snippet to have, fantasyfan - thank you. It doesn't do anything to lessen my dislike of Leavis!
Bookpossum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-08-2017, 05:34 PM   #4
Bookpossum
Snoozing in the sun
Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Bookpossum's Avatar
 
Posts: 9,511
Karma: 96177989
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Device: iPad Mini, Kobo Touch
I have read the first couple of chapters and am enjoying it very much. I really liked this comment: one to which Leavis would no doubt have taken violent exception!

Quote:
The final test of a novel will be our affection for it, as it is the test of our friends, and of anything else which we cannot define. (page 21)
What I wasn't expecting is that there are laugh out loud moments in it, at least in the second lecture on The Story.
Bookpossum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2017, 02:23 AM   #5
Bookpossum
Snoozing in the sun
Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Bookpossum's Avatar
 
Posts: 9,511
Karma: 96177989
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Device: iPad Mini, Kobo Touch
I have to confess that my interest flagged as I went on through the lectures. Forster held my interest when he wrote about books and authors of which I knew, but he lost me when speaking of a surprising number of writers of whom I have never even heard, much less read. While this could be my lack of knowledge of writers from the earlier 20th century, I suspect it is at least partly because they have not lasted.

Still, there was enough to enjoy for me to give it three stars on Goodreads.

Thanks for an interesting theme and selection of books, fantasyfan..
Bookpossum is offline   Reply With Quote
Advert
Old 02-18-2017, 09:51 PM   #6
Bookworm_Girl
E-reader Enthusiast
Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookworm_Girl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Bookworm_Girl's Avatar
 
Posts: 4,022
Karma: 28746979
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Southwest, USA
Device: Kindle Oasis 2; Kobo Aura One; iPad Pro 9.7
I'm enjoying it so far. Only a few chapters left. I'm glad that we read this type of work as a club. Thank you, fantasyfan!

I went into the book with the expectation that I wouldn't have read many of the references so that has probably influenced my perspective and increased my enjoyment when I do recognize something. I admit that I skimmed over some of the longer literary reference passages. I probably struggled the most at understanding the prophecy lecture. I have made a lot of highlights that will take some time to review.
Bookworm_Girl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 10:38 PM   #7
AnotherCat
Me
AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.AnotherCat ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Posts: 1,135
Karma: 12183664
Join Date: May 2012
Device: Anything
I finished this a couple of days ago, fortunately it was short as even though I am glad I read it I found it tiresome at times. I'll just mention a few things, one more (much more ) than the others.

To me it had a lot of waffle in it and right from the first chapter he waffled around time and space, for example, which could have been tidied up in a few paragraphs.

I felt it was written in a novelist's style with allusions rather than facts, opinions disguised as statements, and very non specific and indirect. An experienced non-fiction writer would have written it quite differently I feel, and a speech writer (given that these were lectures) would also have done so. I found myself wondering how many of his audience fell asleep due to the over-wordiness.

The thing that struck me most was that I felt that there was a strong sense of arrogance as to what qualified as art. There were a number of well known and respected writers (today some of whom remain better read than Forster) that he seemed to disqualify because in his view they did not display art in their writing. I will just give one example out of those.

Of the very few novelists that he mentions as being held in his regard as "artists" is Jane Austen and while mentioning her and her characters he states (in the People chapter):

The answer to this question can be put in several ways: that, unlike Dickens she was a real artist, that she never stooped to caricature, etc.

So in his view Dickens was not a real artist, at least because he used caricature. Interestingly the English Oxford Dictionary defines caricature in terms of In Art, of literary description, artistic representation, etc. and for myself I find it strange that caricature could be regarded as disqualifying a work from being artistic. There are other well respected novelists who he seems to place in a similar category of not earning his stamp as artists.

I am not claiming that these authors are without fault but that Forster's opinions, such as the above, reek to me of misplaced art snobbiness and inability to accept or properly judge things outside his own view (so disqualifying him as a critic). I wonder what he would have thought of Chesterton's term "good bad books" and used by George Orwell in his essay Good Bad Books (Tribune 2Nov1945 and collected into Orwell's All Art is Propaganda and Shooting an Elephant and other Essays), for example? This is about literature that is not pretentious and has survived with importance. If wanted the Orwell essay can be found at www.ebooks.adelaide.edu.au.

In that essay Orwell mentions Uncle Tom's Cabin as fitting into the category of good bad book, which prompted me to wonder how Forster would have regarded the likes of it. What would he have thought of works written in American Standard English (as opposed to in Standard English), what about respected works of African-Americans with their own lexicon and structure, and what about the works of Joel Chandler Harris ?

I would not alienate such work from being artistic but I got the feeling that Forster would be dismissive of them. He clearly had little regard for his fellow Brit Walter Scott and I did wonder how much of that was because Scott's work did not fit into what may have been a blinkered ethnically influenced viewpoint of Forster's.

Of the few authors he mentioned as being in his regard, Austen I have only read a little of (Emma years ago) but I have read Proust, albeit in translation, and I felt that his reverence of Proust painted for me Forster's possible world view on artistry. I felt that if he were a modern man lecturing on painting as an art he would be at home in some of the Musée du Louvre but perhaps hold the works in Musée d'Orsay as not artistic.

All that said I have to say that I have never read a biography of Forster so I have made judgements on the lectures alone. He may, with a wider view from myself prove to be quite different.

Last edited by AnotherCat; 02-23-2017 at 10:54 PM.
AnotherCat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2017, 12:27 PM   #8
fantasyfan
Wizard
fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
fantasyfan's Avatar
 
Posts: 1,211
Karma: 24458020
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ireland
Device: Kindle 3 (wifi only) Kindle Paperwhite 2G Wi-Fi only, iPad, iPod Touch
Since I included this in my selection of choices, I should give some of my personal feelings about Aspects of the Novel.

I first read it shortly after I entered College at a time when my reading was predominately in science fiction. I found Forster’s book very exciting and it stimulated me to the point where I began reading more widely and finally became an English major.

Well, time has passed since then and my views have moderated somewhat though I still think this is a book anyone interested in the novel should look through at least once.

The first two chapters are quite engaging and help explain why these lectures were such a public success. Immediately afterwards Forster was offered a three year Cambridge Fellowship and later on was made an honorary life Fellow and given a permanent home in Cambridge.

The book shows its age more in Chapters 3 and 4 which deal with people. Forster’s use of “flat” and “round” characters is clever and may be useful but they probably oversimplify the complex art of characterization in a novel.

I would agree with those who feel that he sells Dickens short. I would also certainly agree that it is true that in the creation of subtle characters with psychological depth, Jane Austen is the greater artist. However, that certainly does not mean that she is a greater novelist than Dickens as Forster seems to imply. The world of Austen may be meticulously created and the characters in it superbly drawn but that world is very much a tiny slice of eighteenth century society. Only in Mansfield Park does Austen give us a glimpse of the lower classes.

On the other hand, Dickens presents an incredibly vivid panorama of Victorian England. The characters may, in Forster’s terms, be “flat” but they stand out with striking power and frequently convey an energy that helps to vivify the human condition in a way that we never see in an Austen novel. I am not saying that Dickens is a greater novelist than his predecessor, but he is certainly as great.

I think that Forster here is echoing a complaint about Dickens’s characterization technique that was common at the time and which we see repeated in F.R. Leavis as well. In fact, Dickens is capable of using a highly sophisticated narrative approach—as in Bleak House.

A great deal of work has been done on this topic since the time of Forster and you can download a free twenty-page Chicago Short by Wayne Booth entitled “What Every Novelist Needs To Know About Narrators”.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Every-Novel...ds=Wayne+Booth

Chapter Five “The Plot” is more successful. Even Leavis, who didn’t at all like the lectures, later praised the “demolition” (Leavis’s term} of Forster’s analysis of George Meredith.
More generally, Forster here begins to weave in the aesthetic dimension of the novel through the mechanism of the plot. He states:

“We come up against beauty here—for the first time in our enquiry: beauty at which a novelist should never aim, though he fails if does not achieve it.”

This aesthetic quality will be later developed in the final chapter “Pattern and Rhythm”,

Chapter Six “Fantasy” is another relatively weak area. Forster considers the Fantasy novel to be equivalent to a side-show in a Circus. True, he does defend it in terms of what Tolkien would later elaborate as a “secondary world”:

“We all know that a work of art is an entity, etc. etc.; it has its own laws which are not those of daily life, anything that suits it is true, so why should any questions arise about the angel, etc., except whether it is suitable to its book? Why place an angel on a different basis from a stockbroker?”

Forster’s rather dismissive attitude to fantasy is indicated by his choice of examples. Three full pages are spent on Flecker’s Magic by Norman Matson--now remembered primarily for The Passionate Witch--a completion of an unfinished novel by Thorne Smith. How many have read Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm? Well, another few pages are devoted to it.

Forster was writing before the explosion of heroic fantasy that came with Tolkien but surely Chesterton was worth mentioning? He wrote fantasies considerably better than anything in that field that either Beerbohm or Matson produced and even developed a theory of literary fantasy.

Chapter Seven has the odd title: “Prophecy”.

“Prophecy,” for Forster, “is a tone of voice.” The novelist is not making an attempt to foretell the future rather he is involved with “the universe or something universal”. Is this really a useful term for a particular type of thematic approach in the novel? I’m not sure that it is but the chapter is well worth reading for some excellent insights on the novels Forster chooses such as Eliot”s Adam Bede which is contrasted with The Brothers Karamazov. There are insightful references to D.H. Lawrence and Herman Melville—especially interesting are the comments about Billy Budd.

The chapter ends with a discussion of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. F.R. Leavis spends 18 lines on this novel in his The Great Tradition. He decides it is merely a “sport” that had no connection with the"Tradition" he outlines. His wife, Q.D. Leavis (also a respected literary critic) said: “Wuthering Heights is not and never has been a popular novel (except in the sense that it is now an accepted classic and so on the shelves of the educated).” But Forster in a few pages writes with genuine excitement, even passion about this quite remarkable book. He anticipates both Lord David Cecil’s Children of Storm and Calm approach and Dorothy Van Ghent’s brilliant essay “Dark ‘otherness’ in Wuthering Heights” (found in her study The English Novel, Form and Function. 1953).

Here is a snippet from Forster:

. . . emotions . . . function differently to other emotions in fiction. Instead of inhabiting the characters, they surround them like thunderclouds, and generate the explosions that fill the novel . . . Wuthering Heights is filled with sound—storm and rushing wind—a sound more important than words and thoughts.”

The final chapter is “Pattern and Rhythm” and I think this is the finest chapter in the book. Here, the aesthetic beauty that is generated in the plot is most completely realised in Forster’s concept of Pattern. Pattern is the plot element that “appeals to our aesthetic sense, as it causes us to see the book as a whole”. Forster analyses The Ambassadors by Henry James as an example of the complex beauty created by it. I would add that it is also very evident in the structures developed in Jane Austen’s novels.

Rhythm uses a repetition of an image of some sort throughout the novel to develop the theme. Forster uses the work of Proust to develop this idea. Personally I see its use through the recurring “crowd” scenes in Huckleberry Finn through which Twain develops the theme of the darkness in the human soul. Forster seems a bit nervous about the concept of Rhythm and spends less time on it than he does on Pattern. Probably this is because Pattern is relatively easy to analyse whereas Rhythm tends to be seen as a poetic device. Yet, I feel it is equally important.

This journey through Aspects of the Novel was highly enjoyable. Of course, that initial excitement of the first reading was largely gone but I think that I see the book with a greater clarity now. Inevitably time has taken its toll and some of its ideas seem dated. But I still think it is a great book with marvellous insights by a major novelist. Remarkably, perhaps a fitting tribute to him comes from F.R. Leavis in The Common Pursuit:

A Passage to India, all criticisms made, is a classic: not only a most significant document of our age, but a truly memorable work of literature. And that there is point in calling it a classic of the liberal spirit will, I suppose, be granted fairly readily, for the appropriateness of the adjective is obvious. In its touch upon racial and cultural problems, its treatment of personal relations, and in prevailing ethos the book is an expression, undeniably, of the liberal traditional and it makes the achievement, the humane, decent and rational—the ‘civilized’—habit, of that tradition appear the invaluable thing it is.

“On this note I should like to make my parting salute. Mr Forster’s is a name that, in these days, we should peculiarly honour.’

Last edited by fantasyfan; 03-01-2017 at 04:57 PM.
fantasyfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2017, 04:23 PM   #9
Bookpossum
Snoozing in the sun
Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Bookpossum ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Bookpossum's Avatar
 
Posts: 9,511
Karma: 96177989
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Device: iPad Mini, Kobo Touch
Great review fantasyfan! Thank you.
Bookpossum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2017, 08:22 AM   #10
fantasyfan
Wizard
fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
fantasyfan's Avatar
 
Posts: 1,211
Karma: 24458020
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ireland
Device: Kindle 3 (wifi only) Kindle Paperwhite 2G Wi-Fi only, iPad, iPod Touch
Thank You!
fantasyfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Kindle Unlimited - Some interesting aspects darryl General Discussions 7 08-23-2014 04:47 PM
Changings aspects of fictional creatures? AkumaTakeshi Writers' Corner 29 07-06-2011 06:36 PM
Social aspects of Reading PeterT Kobo Reader 3 12-09-2010 10:39 PM
Classic How does Nook compare to other e-readers in these aspects? Sylver Barnes & Noble NOOK 10 05-21-2010 08:22 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 09:35 AM.


MobileRead.com is a privately owned, operated and funded community.