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Aspects of the Novel

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,695 Ratings  ·  220 Reviews

Forster’s lively, informed originality and wit have made this book a classic. Avoiding the chronological approach of what he calls “pseudoscholarship,” he freely examines aspects all English-language novels have in common: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm. Index.

Hardcover, 141 pages
Published 2004 by Atlantic Publishers (first published 1927)
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Paul Bryant
Sep 22, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litcrit
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Riku Sayuj

Towards a Poetics of The Novel

Here is a nice pseudo-scholarly jaunt through what 'aspects' go towards the creation of the Novel-form. Forster isolates a few of these aspects and discusses them, but the the 'rhythm' of the lectures, to use his own terminology, is one of insufficiency. It is as if Forster knows that the framework would collapse ever so easily with the slightest departure from his selected story-line or plot-structure or lecture-structure.

As I said, there is much jauntiness here,
Oct 14, 2009 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fascinating book is a series of lectures (and, taking its tone from that format, is delightfully conversational) that Forster gave at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1927. In his “introductory” he makes this statement, “The final test of a novel (is) our affection for it.” He proposes to discuss several aspects of the novel.

The most common denominator of all novels is this: the novel tells a story. This alone does not make a novel good, but without a story a novel cannot exist. Therefore, ti
Apr 13, 2013 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, criticism
In this set of lectures, Forster turns the novel into a living, breathing force, something that can’t be tamped down by simple categorization but instead must be approached cautiously, in full awareness of the essential ambiguities which give the form its vitality.

He begins by situating the novel ontologically somewhere between history and poetry. The novel stands both upon the factual terrain native to history but also borrows from the expansionary, symbolic vistas of poetry to build its own u
Not exactly a how-to guide or a critique, Forster very basically explains different aspects of the novel through a series of lectures he gave in the late 1920s. A lot of the books that he refers to I’ve never read and probably never will (Les Faux Monnayeurs, not so much interested in), but he usually includes enough detail of the story or character that you get his point.
The tone is pretty casual, which makes it an easy read and while the aspects he covers are very basic - the story, the plot,
As much as I absolutely love some of Forster’s novels, there was something about this book which failed to reach me entirely. In about half of it, he was lucid and original, using text examples that I knew, and lifting their meanings to new heights; introducing his famous ‘flat’ and ‘round’ characters. But in the other half (or so), I felt that he was unnecessarily allegorical and metaphysical, and he lost me at times.

The book is divided into chapters about The Story, People, The Plot, Fantasy,
Mohit Parikh
E M Forester is a remarkable man. Astute. And that's what makes Aspects of the Novel so compelling.

The book is a compilation of lectures, delivered in Trinity College, Cambridge in 1927, on what he considers universal aspects of the novel: story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.
The lectures are unique and insightful. Had I not lost my book immediately after finishing it I would have loved to quote several of his shrewd, profound and appealing conclusions here.
What stil
Oct 22, 2014 Bryan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-crit
Like many exponents of "literary" fiction, Forster has no appreciation for the craft, difficulty, or art of story. Consider this ridiculous observation:

"Curiosity is one of the lowest of the human faculties. You will have noticed in daily life that when people are inquisitive they nearly always have bad memories and are usually stupid at bottom. The man who beings by asking you how many brothers and sisters you have, is never a sympathetic character, and if you meet him in a year’s time he will
Jul 07, 2015 Gypsy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

فک میکنم واسه زمان خودش خوب بوده. خیلی هم مجمل و خلاصهس؛ نصف ِ بیشترش مثال و تحلیل آثار موفّق دیگهس. درسته که گاهی باید از مثال استفاده کرد. ولی نه اینکه نصف بیشتر کتاب، همینمثالها باشن. تازه، من خیلیاشونو نخونده بودم و صرف ِ تحلیل ِ مولّف، نمیتونستم باهاش همراهی کنم. شاید نکاتش بهزور چل صفحه هم بشن.
Linda Robinson
Apr 02, 2014 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a Note at the front of this edition (1954) that sets the tone for the remainder: a series of lectures at Trinity College Cambridge. One longish paragraph that, like a proper appetizer, creates a hunger for what will follow. Foster tells us that words like 'of course,' 'curiously enough,' and 'so to speak,' have been left where each appeared which may distress the sensitive reader, but asks the reader to remember that 'if these words were removed others, perhaps more distinguished, might ...more
A very enjoyable, relaxed look at the art of novel-writing, offering much food for thought and many paragraphs that I wanted to highlight or dog-ear. (I shall have to purchase my own copy for that.) Though much of it is, clearly, one writer's personal opinion, most of it seems to be based on good taste and common sense, and I often found myself agreeing with Forster's conclusions. I like his emphasis on the reader's enjoyment and experience of a book, rather than strict structure or over-detaile ...more
May 05, 2015 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a rather dated study of the novel that Forster delivered in a series of lectures at the Cambridge Arts Theatre in 1927, but some elements are still of interest.

Forster limits his study to about a dozen novels and their authors: The Brothers Karamazov, Moby Dick, Ulysses, Wuthering Heights, Madame Bovary, Moll Flanders, Emma, Tristram Shandy, The White Peacock, War and Peace, Bleak House and the Ambassadors. He breaks his areas of study into Story, Plot, People, Fantasy, Prophesy, Patter
Jul 12, 2014 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let's get this out of the way immediately: I've never read an E.M.Forster novel, only his short stories. It might seem odd, then, that I chose to read his guide to good novel writing. A bit like taking a cookery class from Jamie Oliver having enjoyed one of his mince pies. Fortunately it wouldn't really have mattered whose guide to novel writing I read since I'm not planning on writing a novel.

That being said… I was in Manchester a few months ago to give a talk at the University. While catching
E.M. Forster's "Aspects of the Novel," originally a series of lectures delivered at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1927, is a conversational, insightful discussion of plot, characters, rhythm and other components of the novel. Forster's humility -- mocking his own abilities as a critic, poking fun at his attachment to the book "The Swiss Family Robinson," and occasionally alluding to the ramshackle nature of the lectures -- is particularly winning.

The lectures purposely avoid looking at the deve
Max Nemtsov
Как лектор и критик Форстер — вполне балагур и клоун, местами ядовитый, местами остроумный, очень английский (в ушах его лекции звучат почему-то голосом Стивена Фрая). Он в этом курсе лекций пытается наложить свою матрицу на «роман» — зверя, которого за столько веков так и не поймали. И ему в начале ХХ века это поначалу вроде бы удается, когда он полемизирует с той вульгарной «теоретической моделью» чтения, которой нас, я подозреваю, до сих пор по большей части учат в школе: эта «псевдонаука», в ...more
Jul 30, 2014 Liam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-crit, essays, pelicans
This book consists of a series of lecutres that E.M. Forster gave in the spring of 1927. Its style is modest and willing to be doubted. He is not a theorizer, nor does he speak through invented concepts, but through plain English. He is convinced that the novel is an activity and a mode in which we connect, or fail to connect, through our dispositions above our intellect:

The final test of a novel will be our affection for it, as it is the test of our friends, and of anything else which we canno
Jun 08, 2016 Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of lectures Forster gave at Cambridge Univ in 1927 is published in book form and provides a decent look at how a novelist of some critical acclaim a century ago viewed the Aspects of the Novel, both from a reader's and a writer's perspective.

Forster defines the novel as "any fictitious prose work over 50,000 words." The seven aspects he discusses are story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm. He compares the novel's texture and form to those of a symphony and be
May 03, 2014 Behzad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally a series of lectures presented at a university or something
Forster announces at the beginning of the book that he is going to dispense with the common chronological survey of the English novel. He imagines that all the English novelists are sitting in a room, at the same time writing their fiction. He goes on to talk about "the story" and "people" which contains the famous division of character between flat characters and round ones. In "the plot" he gives his famous example of the ki
A bit repetitive but worth a read. Forster thinks you should read Tolstoy. And ultimately he comes to the conclusion that novels tell stories. Pretty cool huh? But i'm joking, this was actually an interesting read and made some interesting points. He mentions Tolstoy a lot and basically thinks that no English writer has rivalled the Russians in all their immortal world-encompassing universal greatness. He lays out the different aspects in a lecture-conversational-style (from plot to people to fa ...more
Michael Ryan
I like E.M. Forster novels in the same way I like fancy restaurants.

I appreciate them, but more often than not they are outside of my comfort zone, I don't really fit in with them, and I think they are overpriced and overrated.

Reading this book you get the sense that E.M. Forster is a bit of an opinionated prick. The saving grace here is that he definitely has the skills to back up being an opinionated prick. But I found the book useless as a guide to writing or as a portal into the mind of th
Mohamed Eshawaf

ليس من الجيد دائما أن تنقل محاضرة مسموعة داخل قاعة جامعية إلى كتاب، فلغة

المحاضرة تختلف عن لغة الكتاب ناهيك عن أن التواصل بن المحاضر والمستمع

يختلف كثيرا عن التواصل بين الكاتب والقاريء، واعتماد المحاضر على أساليب

معينة لتوصيل وجهة نظره للمستمع يُفقد الكتاب الكثير من النواحى الضرورية

لاكتمال بنيته ككتاب.

النقطة الأخرى وهى الفارقة؛ أن المحاضر، إدوارد فورستر، يعتمد فى دراسته

لأركان الرواية على مجموعة كبيرة من الروايات الإنجليزية والفرنسية والروسية

وغيرها، تتفاوت شهرتها بين المحدوية وذائعة الصيت، وهذ
Jan 21, 2010 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read a number of these types of books by now, what strikes one first is the fact that we live in a very different time than E. M. Forster did. Mind you, these were oral, casual lectures about the novel, not held to the same standards of stylistic discipline that literary criticism is, but still, the way Forster is fast and loose with his opinions is striking. Tolstoy is simply the best novelist and War & Peace, the best novel ever. Period. There are only four “prophetic” novelists to ...more
Forster's series of lectures on the novel contained moments of brilliance and insight that make me glad that I picked up the book. The first three or four lectures were much more compelling than the last set of lectures, in part because I just haven't read enough to appreciate all of his analyses. But I also feel that the first half of the book contained more universal themes, whereas the second half seemed to fall into topics that were of great interest to Forster but perhaps not as relevant to ...more
Aspects of the Novel, a series of lectures given by E. M. Forster, is a classic of the writer's craft. Even though published in 1927 the book remains one of the seminal resources for writers and those interested in the craft.

Some elements of Mr. Forster's observations are dated, such as those of story, but many others, especially those dealing with plot and character (people/actors) remain cogent and meaningful even today.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for all interested in the craft of
Mary Catelli
An interesting look at some aspects of fiction.

The difference between just telling events and having cause and effect. The use of flat characters. Fantasy, which just brushes on the edge of the genre as we know it.

Some parts I didn't like -- like his unexplained contempt for pure story. And the writer may find it a bit abstract.
Jessica Colund
For the first 30 pages, I was surprisingly annoyed with Forster. But for the rest of the book, I wished I were sitting in an Oxford pub with him, having a lively exchange of ideas. I certainly don’t agree with all of his opinions (such as when he completely disregards novelists’ sociocultural situations—though he describes his idea beautifully: “Empires fall, votes are accorded, but to those people writing in the circular room it is the feel of the pen between their fingers that matters most”), ...more
Feb 22, 2012 Gwen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psuedoscholars, Forster completists
Shelves: non-fiction
While I suppose it was worthwhile to read the various opinions of E.M. Forster on the old great authors of English literature, I don't really feel that he had very much unique to say about the actual aspects of novel writing.

I think that the most unique, interesting statement in the entire book was in the introduction at Ch 1. Forster feels that authors should not be judged by the chronological categorization of literature over time, but rather be viewed as though they were all simultaneously cr
Jul 04, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-info, forster
Delightful read, (feel as though I am listening to Forster lecture!) "Books have to be read . . . It is the only way of discovering what they contain." His lectures focus on story, people, the plot, fantasy, prophecy and pattern & rhythm. He talks in great detail about round and flat characters, stating that Dickens characters are flat (including David Copperfield) and points out his favorite round characters by Austen, Eliot, Trollope, Melville, Woolfe and Hemingway (only his male character ...more
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Edward Morgan Forster, generally published as E.M. Forster, was an novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. His humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be aptly summed up in the epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End: "Only connect".

He had five
More about E.M. Forster...

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“Long books, when read, are usually overpraised, because the reader wishes to convince others and himself that he has not wasted his time.” 151 likes
“We move between two darknesses.” 28 likes
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