A Reading of E. M. Forster by Glen Cavaliero (auth.)

By Glen Cavaliero (auth.)

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One of the peculiar interests of Marianne Thornton is that it shows so much of the ancestry not only of the author but also of that 'Sawston' world with which he had such a complex relationship. The ties which bound him to it were extremely close. Nevertheless the account of his boyhood which closes the book is markedly free from sentimental nostalgia. Much as he loved Rooksnest, he had a just appreciation of what it did for him. It gave him 'a slant upon society and history. It is a middle-class slant, atavistic, derived from the Thorntons, and it has been corrected by contact with friends who have never had a home in the Thornton sense, and do not want one' (,My Recollections').

We had not yet tired of them and their hoofs and their slanting eyes and their way of coming suddenly out of woods to wean quiet English villages from respectability. We did tire later. 5 In this respect it is worthwhile to compare Forster's work with 42 A Reading of E. M. Forster that of two writers whom Beerbohm would have had in mind, Arthur Machen and H. H. Munro, better known as Saki. Machen had first made his name with the (then) luridly sensational novella The Great God Pan (1894), in which sexual energies are portrayed as obscene and retrogressive.

The pace of the passage then accelerates: We played chess on Sundays, compared Dostoyevsky with Tolstoy publicly, argued over the shape of the Earth at the breakfast-table, balanced on bollards instead of playing deckgames, and discovered another young officer, a very different one, Kenneth Searight, who pursued romance and poetry in a solitary deckchair. We kept diaries. 'The extent of the heat may be judged from the fact that, on descending to my cabin, a tube of Kolynos was found in a semi-liquid condition' is a sentence which Dickinson gave me to put in mine.

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