E. M. Forster: A Biography

Nicola Beauman, Author Alfred A. Knopf $30 (404p) ISBN 978-0-394-58381-5
British writer Beauman's meticulous literary biography focuses on the interconnections between Forster's life (1879-1970) and his novels. She argues provocatively that the stimulus and model for Maurice , his posthumously published novel of homosexual love, was Ernest Merz, a gay acquaintance of Forster who hanged himself. Howards End , whose themes are the importance of rootedness and the spirit of place, emerges, in Beauman's scrutiny, as an elegy to Forster's birthplace which was demolished to make way for a railroad. She calls the novel presciently modern in its contrasting of ``Thatcherism . . . the competitive instinct, the pay-your-way mentality'' with the liberal values Forster espoused. His hostility to Anglo-Indian imperialists, and his thwarted love for his friend and Latin pupil, Syed Ross Masood, shed light on A Passage to India , the ultimate expression of Forster's pessimism about achieving meaningful personal relations. Much of this pessimism, according to Beauman, derived from Forster's ``tentacle-like'' relationship with his over-possessive, smothering mother Lily. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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