Based on the Clark Lectures that British critic Frank Kermode gave at Cambridge University in 2007 on the subject of E.M. Forster, this thorough reassessment of the great English novelist examines hitherto neglected aspects of Forster's life and work. Eighty years earlier Forster himself gave the Clark Lectures, which became Aspects of the Novel; Kermode reappraises the influence and meaning of that great work, assesses the significance of Forster's profound musicality (Benjamin Britten thought him the most musical of all writers), and offers a brilliant interpretation of Forster's greatest work A Passage to India.
"Kermode provides erudite and good-humored insights into Forster's artistic philosophies, plus deft analyses of the techniques of Forster's contemporaries, such as Henry James (whose style Forster disliked), Virginia Woolf, Ford Madox Ford and Forster favorite Marcel Proust. Enlarging on Benjamin Britten's remark that Forster was our most musical novelist, Kermode shows how musical transformation and return of phrases was an art he practiced with success in his novels. Kermode makes the case that Forster's homosexuality was the reason for his long abstention from fiction and establishes that Forster placed himself in a cultivated minority above the working classes. Kermode is a delightful mentor for readers wishing to reflect not only on Forster's creativity but on the personal and social circumstances that restricted it."—Publishers Weekly