Jimmy's Reviews > Howards End

Howards End by E.M. Forster
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's review
Sep 19, 09

liked it
bookshelves: united-kingdom, male, novel, and-a-half-stars, year-1910s
Read in September, 2009

Wow. This was powerful. I would like to read it again, knowing more of what to expect, not that the plot is particularly... central. But, the book starts off so light and slow, almost like a comedy of manners, and a hilarious one at that. But then the middle section, which was hard for me, because I felt a shift. It seemed more like things were being set up to happen but I didn't know what. The middle section didn't exactly connect with me at all times and I found myself kinda forcing myself through. Then the last eighty pages or so made it all worthwhile, as it was filled with insight and focus. The characters we know by now very thoroughly, and the book turns almost into a tragedy before coming back up for air.

There are passages, often, where he gives so much wisdom in a paragraph, in the form of generalities, that I usually do not like in other books (it comes off as preachy or vague) but here I do not mind at all, perhaps because it is so well written and the insights are so apt to what's happening. Often his language is also evasive to the point where I have a notion of what he's saying, but can't really say exactly what it is.

I also admire that he switches points of view in a way that provides reveals and hides on pertinent bits of information, where the reader will know something that is happening and see what a certain character is thinking/responding; and yet not tell you what another character is thinking about it until later, which is like being suspended in mid-air on a ferris wheel that has suddenly malfunctioned and stopped, and you feel the air around you suddenly cooling, the little lights below contracting.

I would like to revisit this book later, and throw myself at it again and again. Here are some quotes:

"The truth is that there is a great outer life that you and I have never touched--a life in which telegrams and anger count. Personal relations, that we think supreme, are not supreme there. There love means marriage settlements, death, death duties. So far I'm clear... but here's my difficulty. This outer life, though obviously horrid, often seems the real one--there's the grit in it. It does breed character. Do personal relations lead to sloppiness in the end?"
p. 22

"It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness, to think that a thousand square miles are a thousand times more wonderful than one square mile, and that a million square miles are almost the same as heaven. That is not imagination. No, it kills it."
p. 24

"Sooner or later the girls would enter on the process known as throwing themselves away, and if they had delayed hitherto, it was only that they might throw themselves more vehemently in the future" p. 12

"People have their own deaths as well as their own lives, and even if there is nothing beyond death, we shall differ in our nothingness"

"It's madness when I say it, but not when you say it"

"Death destroys a man, but the idea of death saves him"
p. 256

"He has worked hard all his life, and noticed nothing. Those are the people who collapse when they do notice a thing."
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Reading Progress

09/09/2009 page 110
09/18/2009 page 224
87.5% ""It's madness when I say it, but not when you say it.""

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