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E. M. Forster: A Life

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  113 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Librarian note: an alternate cover for this edition can be found here.

P. N. Furbank's 1978 two-volume portrait, combined here into one edition, is generally considered the definitive biography of novelist E. M. Forster. "One of the best biographies of a writer I've ever read."--Walter Clemons, Newsweek
Paperback, 648 pages
Published May 2nd 1994 by Mariner Books (first published July 25th 1977)
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Howards End by E.M. ForsterA Room with a View by E.M. ForsterA Passage to India by E.M. ForsterWhere Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. ForsterMaurice by E.M. Forster
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Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I’ve owned this two-in-one volume for years and finally opened it after Jasmine's wonderful essay-review of Maurice had me thinking of Forster’s probable loneliness. Reading this made me feel better about that aspect of his life: yes, there was much (mostly physical) loneliness in his life, but he was not as sexually unadventurous or as alone as one might think. (Of course loneliness can feel even deeper upon returning home, alone, after encounters that need to be conducted in secret.) More impo ...more
Robert Vaughan
Mar 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
A very vivid portrayal of the writer, from birth to death, and chronicles everything with extensive research: Forster's early awareness of his homosexuality, his school years, and his wide-ranging travels (which heavily influenced his writings).
David Freeland
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most intelligent and sympathetic literary biographies I've ever read. The edition I own is marked Volume One; I am looking for Volume Two, and am excited at the prospect of continuing the journey of this remarkable author.
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
A remarkable biography and a remarkable life. Forster lived 90 years and only wrote novels for about half of it, but his legacy is huge, and his personal impact may have been greater even than his literary one. He was much beloved. The biography deals frankly with his homosexuality, and the gay sub-culture he inhabited, and one of the great strengths of the book is that you can see how radically the world changed on this topic and in general in the span of this one life history.

On A Passage to
J. Walker
I admit to reading 240 pages of the 325 presented here; somewhere in 1912, the adventure stopped, the interest flagged, and I never picked up the volume to follow it to its inevitable conclusion.
I thought at the time the book was evasive and rather dry; 30 years later, a biography would be written whose prologue was titled, "Start with the fact that he was homosexual", and suddenly the narrative springs to life, and the characters come alive in a way that Furbank failed to achieve.
Having read th
Apr 14, 2007 rated it it was ok
This is not the best literary biography I've ever read, though it's certainly better than a Peter Ackroyd one. Perhaps this might have something to do with the fact that Forster's life wasn't exactly thrilling. I would recommend the first volume of the biography to anyone interested in Forster during the years which he was writing novels.
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Excellent overview of Forter's life--not his books.
Feb 23, 2011 is currently reading it
Still working on this -- but ist is avery dense, academic biography -- so there is a limit to how much I can read at one time.
Kent Hayden
Jul 26, 2014 added it
Shelves: bailed-on
Ran out of time with this library book. I had to return it.
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Philip Nicholas Furbank FRSL was an English writer, scholar and critic, and a professor (later emeritus) of the Open University. Born in Surrey, he earned a First in English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. After service in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during World War II, he accepted a position at Emmanuel, where he taught until he left in 1953 due to a stammer that hampered his l ...more
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