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Aspects of the Novel by E. M. Forster
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Aspects of the Novel (1927)

by E. M. Forster

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
This is an amazing book for everyone who wants to pursue any career related to literature and analysing it. It was a great ground work for my lit class later this year. I loved that every proposed criterion was accompanied with examples from novels. ( )
  localbeehunter | Jan 15, 2019 |
I remember seeing this one on the shelves when I was growing up. I loved flipping through it and reading what Forster had to say about developing a novel (what makes a good one). It contributed to all sorts of imaginations of eventually writing a book one day, and I imagined I would follow Forster's tips. I did write a novel but I didn't use this book. But it holds good memories, and it's E.M. Forster. ( )
  justagirlwithabook | Aug 1, 2018 |
This book is a collection of lectures given at Harvard in 1927. Forster discusses the novel’s aspects such as story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, patter and rhythm, which is great to read so long as you aren’t looking for a how-to-book. It has plenty of advice, offering up personal likes and dislikes from literature. A few things stood out as really important ideas to keep in mind: “The novel tells a story” is as basic as it gets, but the reminder stopped me in my tracks and had me rethinking how I was writing my novel.
( )
  LynneMF | Aug 20, 2017 |
There is something unerringly endearing about Forster's way of expressing himself that makes this series of lectures on the makeup of the novel so easy to read. His disarming admission of his own unscholarly nature ("True scholarship is incommunicable, true scholars rare. There are a few scholars, actual or potential, in the audience today, but only a few, and there is certainly none on the platform.") puts him firmly on a par with the reader, and his conversational, nay chatty style, opens this little book to anyone who appreciates a good read.

These series of lectures were not an investigation into the history of the novel, nor a prescription of how to write good prose, but an attempt to describe the novel as an art form. Starting from the rather open definition of the novel as "a fiction in prose of a certain extent", Forster tackles a different component each lecture. The story, that satisfies our thirst to find out what happens next, is covered distinctly from the plot, which is the embodiment of our curiosity as to why things happen. He covers a novel's characters, explaining how they can be 'flat' or 'round', and how they differ from real human beings. The realm of 'fantasy', the author's rights in his own universe, are considered, as are matters of pattern, rhythm and viewpoint, with one particularly interesting heading of 'prophecy'.

In terms of whether the book is still relevant, Forster ended his lecture series with some conjecture on what the future may hold for the novel form, whether television would eventually make it even disappear altogether (thank goodness for Riepl's Law). His conjecture that whilst history and society move on, art remains static, is extremely interesting in light of the fact that these lectures were being given at the height of the modernist period, and pertinent works are only lightly touched upon. Furthermore, whilst he provides plenty of written examples, there are of course many references to classic works, which it probably helps to have read, but also references to authors who have been buried by posterity or are no longer so accessible.

On the whole, however, Aspects of the Novel remains fundamentally readable today. It is not a high-brow scholarly affair; rather a well-thought out observational piece, taking a broad look at that vast field of literature we call the 'novel'. Forster makes some extremely astute remarks, and his witty and conversational style bring these across in an easy and comfortable way, that makes you feel his observations are frankly obvious. He does not encompass the full gamut of literary inquiry, but instead picks and chooses to highlight his points and support his argument that there are no fast and steady rules for what defines 'the novel'. This is probably required reading for students of English literature, but it's easy accessibility and thought-provoking titbits should appeal to just about all keen readers with a fascination for the novel form. ( )
2 vote Fips | Oct 30, 2016 |
Feels quite old fashioned now. Two things struck me whilst reading it:
1. This is the 'modernism' that all the post- lot were pushing against. When you hear the first half of the debate, the retort makes more sense.
2. At its worst, it reminds me of that excellent line from Michael Scott in the US Office: "There are four kinds of business: tourism, food service, railroads, and sales. ...And hospitals/manufacturing. And air travel." ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Aug 5, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. M. Forsterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kermode, FrankIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stallybrass, OliverEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Charles Mauron
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This lectureship is connected with the name of William George Clark, a Fellow of Trinity.
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The final test of a novel will be our affection for it, as it is the test of our friends."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156091801, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:51 -0400)

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A series of nine lectures covering the story, plot, characterization, pattern and rhythm in the novel.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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