Saturday, July 12, 2014

Howards End by E.M. Forster – July 11, 2014

Howard's End First Edition 1910 with flyleaf autograph by the author

E.M. Forster's novel has an antique ring and modern readers may find it difficult to enter into sympathy with the characters and the societal context of Edwardian England.

KumKum, Sujatha, Zakia, & Abbas at the Yacht Club before the reading

Forster creates one of the most improbable characters in literature, Leonard Bast, and surrounds him with improbabilities: the morbid interest of two cultured women in his upliftment, the championing of his cause as their moral duty, and the readiness of one of the them to copulate with him as a recompense for poor advice given earlier.

Sujatha, Zakia, & KumKum

There are many themes Forster takes up: class hierarchy and the hypocrisy that lies at the bottom of it, a lament for the passing of pastoral England, socialism and whether being your brother's keeper is necessary in the modern world.


Two worthy women enliven the novel: the wise Mrs Wilcox, long-suffering in her marriage to a man who shared none of her sympathies; and the mature Margaret who knew she had to put her husband in his place once, in order for the marriage to survive on a equal basis.

Kavita, Sujatha, KumKum, Vijay, & Joe (Zakia left early for the Iftar)

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