Friday, May 25, 2012

A Classics Challenge - May Prompt

Howards End by E.M.Forster 

A Classics Challenge - May Prompt - Literary Movement

Level 1 - What literary movement is the prose or poetry you're reading from? What are the values or ideals of the movement? Name other writers of the movement.  

This is not a question I've ever given much thought to when I'm reading and when it comes to Howards End I probably would have assumed it fitted into a vague Edwardian pre-WWI category. I had to do some research and it proved to be very interesting.

Ernest Morgan Forster was a member of what came to be known as the Bloomsbury Group because of the area of London they all lived in. Not so much a movement as a small group of like-minded intellectual friends, writers, artists and economists, who began to gather together informally in the early 1900's to share and discuss their ideas . Anti-establishment, anti -Empire and with strong views on social issues, feminism, sexual liberation and pacifism they created controversy and often ridicule but also had a profound influence on an English society in the process of shaking off the restrictions of the Victorian Era but with no clear idea of what would take its place. Bloomsbury Group members included...

Level 2 - How has the story reflected the ideals of the movement. Are you encouraged to read more works within the movement or move away from it?

Howards End was first published in 1910 and tells the story of three families of different social classes - the English/German Schlegel siblings Margaret, Helen and Tibby whose lives revolve around art and literature, the Wilcoxes, rich capitalists with a fortune made in the colonies and the struggling lower class Basts. As their lives become increasingly entwined the book explores the differences and conflicts in English middle class society, between nations, the known past and the unknown future. 
The final pages resolve the question of who is going to inherit Howards End, former home of the Wilcoxes, and symbolic of England. The entire book reflects the ideals of the Bloomsbury Group while the ending reveals the vision they had of the future ...
" Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer."
I am interested in reading works of other Bloomsbury Group members, particularly Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West but for now I'm reading more E.M.Forster plus a biography of him. I loved everything about Howards End and the symbolism is amazing - it needs more than one reading to fully appreciate so I've bought myself a copy.

The Classics Club
A Century of Books


  1. This would definitely be in my top 50 books of all time (although would that mean I had to leave out Room with a View? oh dear!). I love the Merchant Ivory film too.

  2. I want to read Howard's End and appreciate learning more about the connections of the author. Thanks for a great review.