Aspects of the Novel

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9781444765182: Aspects of the Novel

E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel is an innovative and effusive treatise on a literary form that, at the time of publication, had only recently begun to enjoy serious academic consideration. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction by Oliver Stallybrass, and features a new preface by Frank Kermode. First given as a series of lectures at Cambridge University, Aspects of the Novel is Forster's analysis of this great literary form. Here he rejects the 'pseudoscholarship' of historical criticism - 'that great demon of chronology' - that considers writers in terms of the period in which they wrote and instead asks us to imagine the great novelists working together in a single room. He discusses aspects of people, plot, fantasy and rhythm, making illuminating comparisons between novelists such as Proust and James, Dickens and Thackeray, Eliot and Dostoyevsky - the features shared by their books and the ways in which they differ. Written in a wonderfully engaging and conversational manner, this penetrating work of criticism is full of Forster's habitual irreverence, wit and wisdom. In his new introduction, Frank Kermode discusses the ways in which Forster's perspective as a novelist inspired his lectures. This edition also includes the original introduction by Oliver Stallybrass, a chronology, further reading and appendices. E. M. Forster (1879-1970) was a noted English author and critic and a member of the Bloomsbury group. His first novel, Where Angels Fear To Tread appeared in 1905. The Longest Journey appeared in 1907, followed by A Room With A View (1908), based partly on the material from extended holidays in Italy with his mother. Howards End (1910) was a story that centered on an English country house and dealt with the clash between two families, one interested in art and literature, the other only in business. Maurice was revised several times during his life, and finally published posthumously in 1971. If you enjoyed Aspects of the Novel, you might like Forster's A Room with a View, also available in Penguin Classics.

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Review:

There are all kinds of books out there purporting to explain that odd phenomenon the novel. Sometimes it's hard to know whom they're are for, exactly. Enthusiastic readers? Fellow academics? Would-be writers? Aspects of the Novel, E.M. Forster's 1927 treatise on the "fictitious prose work over 50,000 words" is, it turns out, for anyone with the faintest interest in how fiction is made. Open at random, and find your attention utterly sandbagged.

Forster's book is not really a book at all; rather, it's a collection of lectures delivered at Cambridge University on subjects as parboiled as "People," "The Plot," and "The Story." It has an unpretentious verbal immediacy thanks to its spoken origin and is written in the key of Aplogetic Mumble: "Those who dislike Dickens have an excellent case. He ought to be bad." Such gentle provocations litter these pages. How can you not read on? Forster's critical writing is so ridiculously plainspoken, so happily commonsensical, that we often forget to be intimidated by the rhetorical landscapes he so ably leads us through. As he himself points out in the introductory note, "Since the novel is itself often colloquial it may possibly withhold some of its secrets from the graver and grander streams of criticism, and may reveal them to backwaters and shallows."

And Forster does paddle into some unlikely eddies here. For instance, he seems none too gung ho about love in the novel: "And lastly, love. I am using this celebrated word in its widest and dullest sense. Let me be very dry and brief about sex in the first place." He really means in the first place. Like the narrator of a '50s hygiene film, Forster continues, dry and brief as anything, "Some years after a human being is born, certain changes occur in it..." One feels here the same-sexer having the last laugh, heartily.

Forster's brand of humanism has fallen from fashion in literary studies, yet it endures in fiction itself. Readers still love this author, even if they come to him by way of the multiplex. The durability of his work is, of course, the greatest raison d'être this book could have. It should have been titled How to Write Novels People Will Still Read in a Hundred Years. --Claire Dederer

From the Back Cover:

The wit and lively, informed originality Forster employs in his study of the novel has made this book a classic. Deliberately avoiding the chronological development approach of what he classifies "pseudoscholarship," the author freely examines aspects all English-language novels have in common: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm. Forster's delightful treatment gives the reader a profound appreciation for both the novel and the author's own formidable talents.

"We discover under Forster's casual and wittily acute guidance, many things about the literary magic which transmutes the dull stuff of He-said and She-said into characters, stories, and intimations of truth." --Jacques Barzun, Harper's Magazine

Mr. Forster's volume is more than a discussion of a literary form, it is a discussion of experience, of life, an admirable and delightful reflection of a mind that has recognized its own affinity with Erasmus and Montaigne. --Theodore Spencer, New York Times Book Review

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Book Description Hodder Stoughton General Division, United Kingdom, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Full of Forster s renowned wit and perceptiveness, ASPECTS OF THE NOVEL offers a rare insight into the art of fiction from one of our greatest novelists.Forster pares down the novel to its essential elements as he sees them: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern and rhythm. He illustrates each aspect with examples from their greatest exponents, not hesitating as he does so to pass controversial judgement on the works of, among others, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens and Henry James. His is a book to encourage dreaming. Virginia Woolf. Bookseller Inventory # AA69781444765182

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Book Description Hodder Stoughton General Division, United Kingdom, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Full of Forster s renowned wit and perceptiveness, ASPECTS OF THE NOVEL offers a rare insight into the art of fiction from one of our greatest novelists.Forster pares down the novel to its essential elements as he sees them: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern and rhythm. He illustrates each aspect with examples from their greatest exponents, not hesitating as he does so to pass controversial judgement on the works of, among others, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens and Henry James. His is a book to encourage dreaming. Virginia Woolf. Bookseller Inventory # AA69781444765182

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