E. M. Forster : A New Life Paperback
by Wendy Moffat
One of the great mysteries in the life of E. M. Forster (1879-1970) is why, after the publication of A Passage to India in 1924, he never published another novel although he lived to be 90.
In Wendy Moffat's biography, based on a lifetime's dedication to her subject, we gain extraordinary insights into a man with a gift for writing fiction of great humanity, warmth and humour, who realised early that the society of his time would not allow him to publish the fiction he really wanted to write.
At the end of A Passage to India, his readers were left with the melancholy sight of Aziz and Fielding, friends of different races and cultures, riding out of the novel down separate paths.
In real life, although frustrated at not being able to write out of his true self - it would not be until after his death that Maurice, his novel of a homosexual affair, would be published - E.
M.Forster led a full and energetic life. He was a successful broadcaster, a brilliant essayist (Abinger Harvest and Two Cheers for Democracy are still must-reads) and a leading figure in Europe's intellectual life. Moffat argues that with his support for colleagues from Lowes Dickinson and Radclyffe Hall to Christopher Isherwood and Benjamin Britten, and his quiet championing of humanistic values, he helped create the more tolerant world we now enjoy.
Moffat's achievement is not to show that Forster was homosexual (this is well known) but how deeply his ideas on individual freedom, tolerance, sexuality and love, permeated every act and aspect of his life.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Publication Date: 04/04/2011
- Category: Biography: literary
- ISBN: 9781408809617
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Review by fist
Is art born out of hysteria? Or does sexual fulfillment kill the creative urges? In Forster's case, he wrote a handful of great novels while still in denial and in the closet (which seems to have been located in the home he shared with his domineering mom - obviously). After Forster came to terms with his homosexuality, he seems to have become a slightly creepy ageing queen who preyed on ostenstibly straight younger men from the lower social orders and replaced his creative urges with a quick wank behind the sheds - all the while staying firmly closeted, of course. It is sad that a man with such undeniable talent focused so much on what should have been a minor element of his life, even terminating his public writing career because he felt he couldn't write freely about his feelings. This biography focuses on what may indeed have been the single most important issue in Forster's life (and not unjustly so, since homosexuality was still a punishable offence for most of his life), but it makes for a rather thin story.