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E. M. Forster’s Legacies in British Fiction


Edited By Elsa Cavalié and Laurent Mellet

Since Forster’s death in 1970, many British novelists and film directors have acknowledged and even claimed the influence of the novelist of the English soul (in Woolf’s terms) and of a renewed faith in both human relationships and a quintessentially British liberal-humanism. After the ethical turn at the end of the twentieth century, British literature today seems to go back even more drastically to the figure of the individual human being, and to turn the narrative space into some laboratory of a new form of empowerment of the other’s political autonomy. It is in this context that the references to Forster are more and more frequent, both in British fiction and in academia. This book does not only aim at spotting and theorising this return to Forster today. Rather we endeavour to trace its genealogy and shed light on the successive modes of the legacy, from Forster’s first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) onwards, to the novelisation of Forster himself by Damon Galgut. How can the principle of connection, of correspondences and echoes, which informed Forster’s private life and approach to writing so much, equally characterise the aesthetic and political influence of his œuvre?


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Part II: Ethical legacies: from Forster to contemporary British fiction


Part II Ethical legacies: from Forster to contemporary British fiction Jean-Michel Ganteau (Université Paul-Valéry-Montpellier 3, EA741-EMMA) He Cared: Forster, McEwan, and the Ethics of Attentiveness Over the last few years, months even, a spate of monographs have been published, tracing the development and underlining the ubiquity of neo-modernist fiction on the contemporary British literary scene. I have in mind Alberto Fernández Carbajal’s Compromise and Resistance in Postcolonial Writing (2014), Monica Latham’s A Poetics of Postmod- ernism and Neomodernism. Rewriting Mrs Dalloway (2015), Elsa Cav- alié’s Réécrire l’Angleterre. L’anglicité dans la littérature britannique contemporaine (2015) and, very recently, The Contemporaneity of Mod- ernism. Literature, Media, Culture (2015), a collection of essays edited by Michael D’Arcy and Mathias Nilges. These volumes pore over the presence of the modernist novel in contemporary production, addressing its modalities in aesthetics, ethical and political terms – as indicated, for instance, in Fernández Carbajal’s introduction (Fernández Carbajal 1–22). In this book, E. M. Forster’s lasting influence is given pride of place, while other authors engage with a wider modernist corpus (Cavalié; D’Arcy & Nilges). In her monograph, Monica Latham focuses on the presence of a single modernist hypotext, i.e. Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, and provides a series of criteria to define what she calls ‘neomodernism’. According to her, such re-writings are not so much critical as full of deference, which makes them creative – as opposed to corrective – offshoots, and they tend to provide more readable, less experimental texts than those of their...

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