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Howards End by E. M. Forster
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Howards End (1910)

by E. M. Forster

Other authors: David Lodge (Introduction)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,13884666 (3.98)384
  1. 31
    On Beauty by Zadie Smith (GCPLreader)
    GCPLreader: contemporary novel is an homage to Howard's End
  2. 10
    A Room with a View by E. M. Forster (sturlington)
    sturlington: Where A Room with a View is comedy, Howards End is tragedy.
  3. 00
    The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy (Limelite)
1910s (3)
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English (81)  Dutch (1)  All languages (82)
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
I can't decide if I like this book. I like the style of writing the language and descriptions I found poetic but the characters themselves I thought horrible for the most part. The Wilcox's are all stuffy, spoilt and snobby. Meg spouts feminist ideals but as a wife is a total doormat. Helen is a hysterical idiot. Tibby is a sort of caricature of a young man without any thought beyond himself.
All of the prose makes the book readable but at the same time it is sometimes so wordy I find myself switching off and then having to reread and missing plot points.

It is a book about a changing nation and changing society. The end of the height of the empire when to be English is to be the best and brightest but before the First World War which changed England's relationship with Europe and society as a whole. Each character seems to be looking for stability when everything is changing around them. Charles wants the security of money Henry wants a return to the comfort of marriage. Meg wants a home to feel secure in. Helen wants to find truth and justice and doesn't comprehend that no one else cares for either. I do wonder if Forster was totally sexist and really thought women were as they are portrayed, or if he was just writing the commonly held views of the time. ( )
  SashaM | Apr 20, 2016 |
I quite liked this. It was an interesting novel of class distinction, dog-in-the-manger attitudes, human strength and frailty, and forgiveness. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
I know this is a classic and it's been on my list for a long, long time. But I just didn't like it at all. :( ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
Howards End E M Forster
4 Stars

Having previously read A Passage to India and A Room with a View I was not expecting to enjoy this story, however it was well worth reading and kept me interested until the end.

Howards End is a country home that plays a key role in the fates of 3 families the Wilcoxes who own the house, the Schegel sisters Margaret and Helen whom they befriend and the Basts who are tied to both families by a series of coincidences.

There is not a lot I can say without giving the plot away.

Howards End is a novel about family, morality, friendship, love, forgiveness and social divides.

Forster creates memorable characters ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
I vaguely remember seeing the film adaptation of Howards (no apostrophe-s!) End decades ago. I don’t remember much about the plot, I just vaguely (mis)remembered it as a story of some mad old biddy giving a house to Emma Thompson. I suppose if you must give away a house to someone Emma Thompson is not a bad choice, she is pretty cool. Anyway, after recently reading [b: A Room with a View|3087|A Room with a View|E.M. Forster|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388781285s/3087.jpg|4574872] and [b: The Machine Stops|4711854|The Machine Stops |E.M. Forster|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347943820s/4711854.jpg|4776249] I have added E.M. Forster to my much coveted list of favorite classic authors (he missed my sci-fi list by a hair, having written only one novella, albeit an excellent one).

The nice lady who gives away the eponymous Howards End house is not an old biddy at all. She is roughly the same age as myself and is actually one of the least annoying characters in the book so I will retract both “old” and “biddy”. She is in poor health though and after spending some time with the kindly, friendly, clever and generally awesome Margaret Schlegel decided to write a note in pencil expressing her wish to give the house to her friend upon her death. This sounds like a ridiculous premise for a novel but Forster knew very well such a note would not be legally binding and the book is not about some kind of legal battle for the house, besides Margaret has no idea of the brief existence of the note until almost the end of the book.

What Howards End is really about (unless I am very much mistaken) is social classes and their perception and relation to each other. The central characters represent the intellectual, the materialistic, and the poor. Their interactions in this book are on the whole not a happy one even though Margaret marries the stuffy businessman Henry Wilcox (whose wife – who is not an old biddy –snuffs it fairly early in the book). The book is not particularly densely plotted and any further description of the storyline seems like spoiler to me. Certainly it is full of themes and symbolisms about social classes, culture vs practicality etc. but as a reader I am more interested in the readability of it, the themes always come after the story for me. I find Howards End to be immensely readable and never drag at any time even though nothing much seems to happen in it; quite a triumphant achievement by Forster I think.

I enjoy reading Forster’s observations of different kinds of people, their “lights and shades” as he puts it. The awkward romance between the two main characters who have nothing in common is peculiarly charming, especially when Henry, a man devoid of passion, tries to express touchy feely sentiments. The prose is characteristically top notch. I like Margaret’s notion of taming the stiff upper lipped Henry:

“She might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man.”

It can’t be easy constructing rainbow bridges. I don’t have a lot more to say about Howards End really because it is all about the characters, even the titular house is a character of sorts. Once you get to know these characters, their idiosyncrasies become quite absorbing. Anyway, I have no problem recommending this book, I enjoyed it from beginning to end. If you like characters study novels set in the Edwardian era this one is for you.

______________________

Notes

Audiobook: I listened to the free Librivox edition, beautifully read (as always) by Elizabeth Klett, who is one of the very best readers on there. Thank you very much!

I feel like I ought to rate it at 4 stars because I'm always throwing 5 stars about, but I can't think what to deduct the one star for. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
"The season's great novel"
added by GYKM | editDaily Mail
 
"A fine novel"
added by GYKM | editGraphic
 
"My impression is that the writer is a woman of a quality of mind comparable to that of the Findlater sisters or to May Sinclair."
added by GYKM | editChicago Tribune
 
"A story of remarkably queer people"
added by GYKM | editWestern Mail
 

» Add other authors (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Forster, E. M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lodge, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hynes, SamuelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klett, ElizabethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pascual, ToniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennanen, EilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pessarrodona, MartaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Petherbridge, EdwardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Only Connect . . ."
Dedication
First words
One may as well begin with Helen’s letters to her sister.
Quotations
Theatres and discussion societies attracted her less and less. She began to ‘miss’ new movements, and to spend her spare time re-reading or thinking . . . she had outgrown stimulants, and was passing from words to things. It was doubtless a pity not to keep up with Wedekind or John, but some closing of the gates is inevitable after thirty, if the mind itself is to become a creative power.
Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.
Margaret greeted her lord with peculiar tenderness on the morrow. Mature as he was, she might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monk, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the grey, sober against the fire. Happy the man who sees from either aspect the glory of these outspread wings. The roads of his soul lie clear, and he and his friends shall find easy-going.
The train sped northward, under innumerable tunnels. It was only an hour’s journey, but Mrs. Munt had to raise and lower the window again and again. She passed through the South Welwyn Tunnel, saw light for a moment, and entered the North Welwyn Tunnel, of tragic fame. She traversed the immense viaduct, whose arches span untroubled meadows and the dreamy flow of Tewin Water. She skirted the parks of politicians. At times the Great North Road accompanied her, more suggestive of infinity than any railway, awakening, after a nap of a hundred years, to such life as is conferred by the stench of motor-cars, and to such culture as is implied by the advertisements of antibilious pills. To history, to tragedy, to the past, to the future, Mrs. Munt remained equally indifferent; hers but to concentrate on the end of her journey.
They were both at their best when serving on committees. They did not make the mistake of handling human affairs in the bulk, but disposed of them item by item, sharply. ... It is the best—perhaps the only—way of dodging emotion.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0486424545, Paperback)

Margaret Schlegel, engaged to the much older, widowed Henry Wilcox, meets her intended the morning after accepting his proposal and realizes that he is a man who has lived without introspection or true self-knowledge. As she contemplates the state of Wilcox's soul, her remedy for what ails him has become one of the most oft-quoted passages in literature:
Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.
Like all of Forster's work, Howards End concerns itself with class, nationality, economic status, and how each of these affects personal relationships. It follows the intertwined fortunes of the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, and the Wilcox family over the course of several years. The Schlegels are intellectuals, devotees of art and literature. The Wilcoxes, on the other hand, can't be bothered with the life of the mind or the heart, leading, instead, outer lives of "telegrams and anger" that foster "such virtues as neatness, decision, and obedience, virtues of the second rank, no doubt, but they have formed our civilization." Helen, after a brief flirtation with one of the Wilcox sons, has developed an antipathy for the family; Margaret, however, forms a brief but intense friendship with Mrs. Wilcox, which is cut short by the older woman's death. When her family discovers a scrap of paper requesting that Henry give their home, Howards End, to Margaret, it precipitates a spiritual crisis among them that will take years to resolve.

Forster's 1910 novel begins as a collection of seemingly unrelated events--Helen's impulsive engagement to Paul Wilcox; a chance meeting between the Schlegel sisters and an impoverished clerk named Leonard Bast at a concert; a casual conversation between the sisters and Henry Wilcox in London one night. But as it moves along, these disparate threads gradually knit into a tightly woven fabric of tragic misunderstandings, impulsive actions, and irreparable consequences, and, eventually, connection. Though set in the early years of the 20th century, Howards End seems even more suited to our own fragmented era of e-mails and anger. For readers living in such an age, the exhortation to "only connect" resonates ever more profoundly. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:58 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When impetuous Helen Schlegel believes herself to be in love with Paul, the youngest of the Wilcox sons, she sparks off a connection between the two families that leads to collision.

» see all 17 descriptions

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