A.J.'s Reviews > Aspects of the Novel

Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster
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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 than he should've. While there was already plenty of criticism on the art of novels then, it was nothing like today in the copious amount of opinion we have on the subject and the ease of perusing it all by Google or ebook, and so Forster struck out on his own and through the jungle of darkness sought to give us his ideas for what 'aspects' to consider constitute novels. Despite its flaws, I would consider it a valiant and successful effort more or less.

It is illuminating in parts and bogged down in others. Sometimes he tries too hard to define and teach us something that he doesn't really (and self-admittedly) fully grasp either and the effect is of rousing the intellect yet wishing to just be past it as it feels like you're stuck in quicksand with someone lecturing you from the side who has some idea of how to get out but can't really say how they got out themselves, just that they did and it is somehow possible.

Am I being too harsh? Perhaps. The book is short, I did feel that I learned a few things and if one is interested in literary criticism and the novel as art, or in writing fiction, then this is worth taking a look at. Beware though, if you are leery of spoilers, that this book will spoil quite a few classics for you in its dissection of various aspects, if you haven't read them yet.
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Reading Progress

February 4, 2017 – Shelved
February 4, 2017 – Shelved as: possibilities
February 6, 2017 – Started Reading
March 12, 2017 –
43.0%
March 26, 2017 –
57.0%
March 31, 2017 – Finished Reading

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Eleanor Yes, good in parts and tedious in others.


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