Howards End (Modern Library Classics)

E.M. Forster
First published in 1910, Howards End is the novel that earned E. M. Forster recognition as a major writer. At its heart lie two families—the wealthy and business-minded Wilcoxes and the cultured and idealistic Schlegels. When the beautiful and independent Helen Schlegel begins an impetuous affair with the ardent Paul Wilcox, a series of events is sparked—some very funny, some very tragic—that results in a dispute over who will inherit Howards End, the Wilcoxes' charming country home. As much about the clash between individual wills as the clash between the sexes and the classes, Howards End is a novel whose central tenet, "Only connect," remains a powerful prescription for modern life.Introduction by Alfred Kazan(Book Jacket Status: Not Jacketed)From the Hardcover edition.


Reviewed: 2019-06-29

This absolutely lovely novel is about many things, not the least class differences in English society in the years leading up to the Great War, years exemplified by a vivacious capitalistic modernity that was growing exponentially all the time. The conflicts and dichotomies here between poetry and automobiles, realism and idealism, science and emotion, nature and industry, past and future, rich and poor, men and women, are all richly engaging and form an interesting dialectic with a somewhat too hopeful conclusion and reconciliation, but one that is all the more touching for it. The writing is occasionally just perfunctory, and on rare occasions second rate, but this does little to detract from characters who manage to transcend their types, as well as knotty and intricate plotting which is laced with delicate ironies and thought provoking doubling motifs. Many threads run through Forester's novel, some of them obvious, some of them subterranean. On a side note, I found his near prediction of World War I to be startlingly perceptive, as he notes the buildup of jingoistic nationalism on the English side and the tendency of English snobbery and "good sense" to lead to violence--indeed it is just this kind of "good sense" that is indicative of overreaching imperialism (which in itself is a complicated issue, far from black and white) and hypocritical high Victorian--well technically, Edwardian--morality (and here the novel proves itself to be very much one about the sexes).
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