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The Longest Journey (Bantam Classic)

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  1,742 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
Bookish, sensitive Rickie Elliot is quite at home amid the placid and scholarly environs of Cambridge. That is, until he falls for the shallow young Agnes Pembroke. Forster skewers undergraduate philosophical debate, the opening day of a public school, and tea with a frightful dowager, as the dire consequences of mistaken love later developed in Howard's End take their tol ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 3rd 1997 by Bantam Classics (first published 1907)
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Barry Pierce
Forster's least-read novel for a reason, The Longest Journey is a seemingly plotless tale which follows an unlikable band of Cantabrigians. However, Forster doesn't seem to understand the ridiculousness of his own characters and thus expects us to care about these fools. Instead read Waugh's Decline and Fall in which similar characters are given the sending-up that they deserve.
This is not an easy novel for me to review because I love E.M. Forster, but I didn’t love this book. The overall storyline I liked well enough: a young Cambridge man discusses philosophy with his fellow students, finishes life at university, which he has enjoyed immensely, and tries to establish himself as a writer, only to be lured away by a woman, by marriage, by the woman’s brother and his insistence on the main character making his way in the world by teaching instead of writing, thus markin ...more
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: canon-izers
Oh how I suck up these wordy early 20th Century tales of love and woe and irony.

I truly enjoyed this book, I really yearned to read it and I could not really express why to someone who would say "What?!?!? Nothing happens! It is just a bunch of stuffy people worrying about manners!".

Oh, but it is that and so much more.

If you're like me and you could really go for some Henry James, D.H. Lawrence, or some other canonized British/European/American Ex-Patriot from those times, then you will like th
It is described by Stephen Spender, I think, as Forster's "most accomplished work". It is flawed, the girl in the novel exceptionally tedious, the ideal "brute savage" too ideal. But there are memorable scenes-the awful opening speech for the new term, the depiction of bullying, the atmosphere of convention and restraint which closes in on Ricky. There is much to be said for the refining qualities of censorship when considering this novel. Whatever one thinks of it, it is a far finer novel than ...more
Glimmer-glass Girl
This book depressed me slightly... the ending seemed to convey that life is alot of dead ends and perhaps a bit aimless. I agree that life is often this way, but I'm not sure I like it in literature. I absolutely loved Ansell's character, though, and wish he were in the book more. I think Ansell and Rickie's friendship was more interesting than anything with Agnes. The idea of reality I absolutely loved reading about. I believe someone said that Forster is the professor with the door always open ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TLJ was Forster's favourite novel, and now I've read it I can see why. If you've read the The Machine Stops collection of short stories and a biography of Forster, you can have endless fun in the Cambridge section playing 'spot the biographical detail'. Rickie comes so very, very close to being a self-insert. In fact, he probably started life as one, but as soon as he leaves Cambridge, his life takes a completely different turn and he ends up possibly representing the road not taken of the conve ...more
“Preserving Family Secrets—Honoring Family Dreams”
This 1907 novel probes the gradual maturation of a young Cambridge student, Ricki Elliot—grappling with various life issues. It is in his favorite haunt, a delightful dell some distance from the ‘Varsity, that he recounts to his male peers the sad tale of his childhood and youth; for this fellow, smaller and lame, is now without parents. His very nickname was his father’s cruel jest re the boy’s rickety locomotion. Prone to daydreaming about bei
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As shocking as it may be, I'd never read anything by E.M. Forster. I happened upon my dusty, 1922 printed copy by luck as I browsed through one of the buildings in my favorite used book store, The Book Barn in Niantic, CT. What drew me to the book at the time was the following blurb printed among the opening pages: A New Directions Wartime Book This Complete Copyright Edition Is Produced In Full Compliance With The Government's Regulations For Conserving Paper And Other Essential Materials. I'd ...more
Brian Eshleman
As a limited but interesting point of comparison, this is a little like a novel version of The Education of Henry Adams. Unlike Adams, the protagonist here is educated on the cusp of the 20th century rather than on the pinnacle of 19th century thinking. However, the lapse of time in between has changed little. The protagonist here struggles to apply his Cambridge education to a changing world and to apply himself to meaningful work. The choices he faces as a teacher and something of an idealist ...more
THE LONGEST JOURNEY. (U.S. 1922; UK 1907). E. M. Forster. ***.
I’m a big fan of Forster’s novels, but this one left me cold. It’s the life story of Rickie (Frederick) Elliot, a young man whom we meet as he is enrolled at a Cambridge college. He was a sensitive and delicate young man with a deformity – supposedly inherited – that left one leg shorter than the other. His passion was to become a writer. We meet Agnes and Herbert Pembroke, brother and sister, when they visit Rickie at his college. Ev
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful book from EM Forster. This is the fourth of his books that I've read and I'm in love with them all! I grew quite attached to Rickie and felt the weight of the world he was bearing. This book delivered some genuine shocks. I don't remember the last time I gasped out loud this many times in the last few pages of The Longest Journey. Forster's witticisms slay me; his sarcastic narrators never fail to make me chuckle. His books just feel so comfortable! Highly recommended.
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, 20th-century
I love Forster. This novel is not as tidy as his others, but I liked it nonetheless. The ideas seemed to have more passion behind them, even if they weren't brought together with the same clarity as in the other books.
Kevin Macdonald
Don't waste your time reading this book. This was the first Forster book I've read, and while there was nothing about it that would dissuade me from reading his others, there was also nothing within it that encouraged me to want to. That being said, I will eventually read A Passage to India! And maybe that other big one. But this one... it's almost remarkably ordinary, lol. Supposedly it was E. M. Forster's favourite novel that he wrote, and if that is true I suspect that's because it was only w ...more
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Forster's second novel is in many ways his most intellectually and aesthetically challenging. It's a beautiful book, if perhaps not always as emotionally engaging as it is intellectually engaging, and yet the third and final part may be the most gut-wrenching tour-de-force in Forster's canon, with the final scene in particular just kicking you in the stomach with poignancy. Though it can be hard to relate to what was once a crisis in early 20th century England, Forster does a good job selling yo ...more
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Failure would await him, but not disillusionment.

"Ansell was in his favourite haunt - the reading-room of the British Museum. In that book-encircled space he always could find peace. He loved the see the volumes rising tier above tier into the misty dome... There he knew that his life was not ignoble. It was worth while to grow old and dusty seeking for truth though truth is unattainable, restating questions that have been stated at the beginning of the world. Failure would await him, but not di
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this novel. Convention and philosophy meet nature and spirituality. What is the right way to live and what the wrong? Can anyone ever tell us how to live our life?

Born into a tragic life, crippled by a hereditary condition, Rickie finds good company at Cambridge though always unsure of himself and his destiny. Guided too much by too little he falls, in the guise of love, into the manipulative clutches of Agnes and her brother and thence into the twisted manoeuvrings of his aunt. Once in th
Aug 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Good lord, could any book be as obvious a first novel as this?

"Rickie, an obvious portrait of the author, debates philosophy with his set of brash, arrogant, lower-class, yet strangely enticing fellow students at Oxford. When his close friend Agnes becomes engaged to Gerald, Rickie's childhood tormentor and all-around dolt who nevertheless exudes a kind of golden, seductive, animal charm, Rickie is inwardly disturbed, but merely stumps around on his deformed leg, occasionally exchanging philosop
Rebecca Hazell
After all the praise heaped on this book, I was disappointed. It's the story of a young man who discovers that his ideals and reality don't have much to do with each other. We meet lots of characters who seem to personify different social strata and different philosophical and social points of view, but not one of them seems to have any sense, much less be at all sympathetic. That doesn't mean that Forrester didn't let off some zingers of lines, but I didn't come away feeling that anyone had lea ...more
May 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An occasionally tedious book on the importance of making your own decisions and living life following principles you've set for yourself, not ones that society has set for you.

Not Forster's most elegant or enjoyable work. A bit on the preachy side.
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This started off pretty good for me, then quickly turned into somewhat of a slog. However, I zoomed through the second half and ended up liking it. Boy, what a restrictive downer of a story!
Saymon Nascimento
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Muitas vezes as obras-primas são descobertas por acaso. Comprei esse livro há quase 15 anos, num antigo sebo de Salvador, o Berinjela. Havia visto filme Retorno a Howards End, comprei o livro, e achei esse do mesmo autor. Nesse ínterim, li Howards End, Passagem Para a Índia, e, pra mim, o até então melhor livro de Forster, Um Quarto Com Vista.

Há uma semana, depois da experiência desastrosa de um romance nebuloso de um fluxo de consciência incrivelmente mal escrito - O Ocaso dos Pirilampos, de A
Selah Pike
Forster’s novels still haven’t lived up to my first Forster, A Room With a View. However, much like Howards End and Where Angels Fear to Tread, I can see myself rereading this in the future.
Allyson Faith
What an odd book! Glimpses of themes Forster better developed in Howard's End.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those nothing seems to happen books that was impossible to put down. Deeply touching when I least expected it; my spirit playing catch-up? And two thirds through was the question. When did this start getting so dark?
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Completing my final year exams, I felt disillusioned with life in general. It felt odd not to have the comfort of knowing I'd be returning to education in September to alleviate any guilt from a somewhat idle summer. Neither did it help that the overwhelming task of properly starting a 'working life' had become more apparent than ever before. I immediately missed the library and the silent camaraderie of that environment. I really appreciated that this revision period would be the last of my lif ...more
I think this might be an early work by Forster--it doesn't have the weight of some of his more well-known books, but it's interesting to read nonetheless. It's mostly concerned with a sort of killing of the soul when one submits to the wrong relationships and the wrong world, something that must happen every day. I think I may have been a little resistant to some of the characters because I didn't respond to them the way Forster maybe did.

For instance, I couldn't help but feel like there was a
Definitely not my favorite of the E.M. Forster books I've read. It has neither the prophetic voice of Where Angels Fear to Tread's tightly crafted narrative, nor the burning vision of Howard's End By E. M. Forster's depiction of love. However, a powerful book in its own right.

This is the complex and meandering tale of one man's life: his hopes and dreams, his failures and disappointments, his growths and backtracks, his death. It is the story of how life (even when it seems rife with waste and
Sep 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, brit-lit
I enjoyed this book maybe 1.5 stars or 2 stars. It was a very long journey to read- that's for sure. I felt like nothing happened until 200 pages into a 300 page book. However, there are several segments of Forster's writing that are unparalleled in style and beauty. During the second half of the book, especially, there were paragraphs so well-written, I re-read them a few times. They were really beautiful, and I was so impressed by them. Forster is one of my favorite authors, and this book is m ...more
Rickie Elliott is a Cambridge student and a struggling writer. After becoming infatuated with an engaged young woman, Agnes Pembroke, his quiet life is changed forever. The two end up married and Rickie takes a position as a schoolmaster. Soon Rickie learns Agnes' true nature, which is drastically different from his own.

The Longest Journey feels like an author's early work, full of idealistic young men and good concepts, but characters that sometimes fall flat. It was the second book Forster pu
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brit-lit, classics
An interesting exploration of the balance and tension between convention and freedom, selfishness and selflessness, indoors and outdoors, and formality and comfort. Rickie variously visits or lives in many different places, and is seduced or repulsed by what he sees. He finds what he thinks he wants, only to discover that under the surface, his conventional, indoor, structured life is rotten and unsupportable, and incompatible with who he wants to be. The book doesn't wrap everything up with a n ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Alternate book cover 3 17 Oct 03, 2014 07:52AM  
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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".

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“It's not what people do to you, but what they mean, that hurts.” 65 likes
“The bully and the victim never quite forget their first relations.” 15 likes
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