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Aspects of the Novel

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,781 ratings  ·  351 reviews
Forster's renowned guide to writing sparkles with wit and insight for contemporary writers and readers. With lively language and excerpts from well-known classics, Forster takes on the seven elements vital to a novel: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm. He not only defines and explains such terms as "round" characters versus "flat" characters (and ...more
Paperback, A Harvest Book, 176 pages
Published 1985 by Harcourt (first published 1927)
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Paul Bryant
Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litcrit
They said to me "Do you do Twitter?"

I said no, I have Goodreads.

They said "What about Facebook?"

I said no, I have Goodreads - this is funny, someone said it should be called Bookface.

They didn't get that.

They said "Do you have a blog?"

I said well, no, I do Goodreads.

They looked at each other, and then they said "We heard you don't even have a mobile phone."

I said yeah, you heard right.

They said "Don't tell us, you have Goodreads."

I said "Now you're making fun of me."

They said "Huh, we don't need
...more
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 her
...more
CarolynMarieReads
"No English Novelist is as great as Tolstoy"

...as if I couldn't love E.M. Forster even more!!!
That fact that one of my favorite authors (Forster) has also read and loved the same books as I have just makes my heart sing!

Going into this book, I thought it was going to be a type of "guide to writing fiction." Well, I can happily say that I was very wrong.
I did know I would love this book because it's a written transcript of his Cambridge lectures. What I didn't expect was for it to feel like a l
...more
Bruce
Oct 14, 2009 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
...more
Richard Derus
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 5* of five

One of the best books I've read about writing novels. A truly inspirational guide to a complex and daunting effort. It is scary enough to make the decision to write a novel. To face the prospect without a reliable guide? UNTHINKABLE!!
Emma
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5/5 Stars

I had to read this series of lectures by E.M. Forster for one of my classes and I found it quite interesting, especially in some parts. I also really appreciated how clear he was in his explanations and how every aspect was touched upon and not left unresolved. If you're interested in fiction in general and its main aspects, you might want to read this.
Helle
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,
...more
Eleanor
I enjoyed it to some extent, especially the laugh-out-loud moments where he points out how utterly ridiculous a plot is, or quotes a parody of Henry James by H G Wells. But many of the books of which he speaks are ones I have never even heard of and so I must confess that there were times when he lost me and I would rather have been elsewhere.
Jennifer
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,
...more
Richard
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read "Aspects of the Novel" shortly after I entered College at a time when my reading was predominately in science fiction. I found Forster’s book very exciting and it stimulated me to the point where I began reading more widely and finally became an English major.

Well, time has passed since then and my views have moderated somewhat though I still think this is a book anyone interested in the novel should look through at last once.

The first two chapters are quite engaging and help explai
...more
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
...more
Bryan
Aug 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Zeineb Nouira
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is not much to be said about this book apart from the fact that it is a pillar in the field of literary criticism.

One will surely learn many valuable things about the craft of fiction thanks to Forster's witty and straightforward style which, unfortunately, did not remain consistent near the end of the book.I had the impression that Forster's choice of certain works to illustrate his opinions was made out of personal taste and stance towards a few of his contemporaries. Nevertheless, what
...more
Alina
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Afaf Afaf
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book. it is really helpful for those who are interested especially in literature.
i liked the language . It's simple, in the same time, it has some sophisticated vocabulary.

Well, E.M.Forster talks about the aspects of the novel. there are about 5 chapters; each chapter contains a certain aspect:
1 story
2 people (A&B)
3 plot
4 fantasy & prophecy
5 pattern & rhythm

I'm about to demonstrate the general idea in each of them:

STORY:
the story is a narrative of events arranged in time sequenc
...more
Shane
May 05, 2015 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
...more
A.J.
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the book version of a series of lectures Forster gave at Cambridge the year my grandmother was born, i.e 1927. I found it interesting, and Forster's casual style (since he was speaking rather than writing) and self-awareness of the slipperiness of the subject causing his inability to really grasp it in a masterful way made it a refreshing read despite the 90 years between him saying these things and me reading them.

That said, I think it was a bit muddled and I think sometimes he assumed
...more
Chris Dietzel
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
The author of 'Howard's End' and 'A Room With A View' provides his thoughts on the elements that make up stories. Parts of this were great and other parts I skimmed through because they didn't seem relevant in this day and age.

I particularly enjoyed:
- His take on commercially successful writers versus those who create works of art.
- His take on other writers of his day (loved Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, didn't care for Sir Walter Scott, thought Gertrude Stein failed in writing execution, liked Auste
...more
Sarah
This was a fascinating breakdown on what Forster thought a novel should be/have. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and ended up highlighting large sections. There were things I didn't completely agree with but on the whole I liked what he had to say.
Gina Lyle
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel had the potential to make some very important and interesting points about how we categorise and understand the novel. In fairness, it contains very simple and helpful definitions of plot and story. Forster tells us that the two are distinguished by causality.
Unfortunately, the man is a total prick. The very personal, informal style of the guide reveals how hugely biased, defensive and uninformed Forster is. He believes only the intelligent with good memories
...more
Linda Robinson
Mar 24, 2014 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
Perry
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: circle
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
...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
...more
Nandakishore Varma
An avowed classic on literary craft which somehow did not resonate with me. Due for a re-read.
Lara Lee
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-blog-books
Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster is not a how-to-write book. It is a collection of lectures delivered in the 1920's by Forster at King's College in Cambridge. The point of the book is to discuss what makes a good fiction novel work. I was introduced to this book from multiple directions at the same time. The primary place that piqued my curiosity was in Ursula Le Guin's Steering the Craft where she used it as a debate partner. I am thrilled I did read it, and I think there is a good reason w ...more
Geoffrey
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
E.M. Forster’s book is not what one expects. It is not, in fact, an exposé of how to write. Rather it is a study of what is written, from one writer’s perspective. This is both the book’s strength and its weakness. Forster has opinions about everything, and is often critical of writers we tend to think of as canon. And yet, he offers insights into good writing that can be stunning, and hard to find elsewhere, perhaps because already stated here. He also offers us ways of looking that are surpris ...more
Wilsonn
Forster is very early twentieth century, if not entirely High Modernist, in his approach to fiction; but while he may frequently date himself in this book, his arguments in themselves cast and should cast long shadows. This is an essential and fun read for anyone interested in how contemporary books tick.

‘If you ask one man, "What does a novel do?" he will reply placidly: "Well—I don't know—it seems a funny sort of question to ask—a novel’s a novel—well, I don’t know—I suppose it kind of tells a
...more
Kris
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-write-think
A collection of lectures full of Forster's musings about writing. Rambling, unfocused, and forgettable.

But a quote about character building struck me as funny:
"The characters arrive when evoked, but full of the spirit of mutiny. For they have these numerous parallels with people like ourselves, they try to live their own lives and are consequently often engaged in treason against the main scheme of the book. They 'run away,' they 'get out of hand': they are creations inside a creation, and often
...more
Megan
did I actually finish all of this? no. (*but I did read some chapters!)
am I gonna act like I did to help out my Goodreads challenge? yes
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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
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