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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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‘Well, my England is E. M.’: Christopher Isherwood and E. M. Forster’s Alliance through their Correspondence (Aude Haffen)


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AUDE HAFFEN (Université Paul-Valéry-Montpellier 3, EA741-EMMA)

‘Well, my England is E. M.’: Christopher Isherwood and E. M. Forster’s Alliance through their Correspondence

Traditional views of E. M. Forster as ‘a writer […] of the individualistic and liberal type’, as he famously referred to himself in ‘What I Believe’ (1939), may seem somewhat at odds with his role as mentor to the Young Writers of the Thirties or the ‘Auden-Isherwood gang’ (Moffat 5). This is what Wendy Moffat suggests in her 2010 New Life of E. M. Forster, whose thesis reclaims Forster’s life as a queer life shaping British gay history and whose prologue foregrounds his close relationship with Christopher Isherwood1. A liberal-humanist Edwardian man of letters confined in a less flamboyantly queer and less progressive margin of the Bloomsbury group, Forster may indeed seem poles apart from the younger writers’ attraction and more or less loose and transient fellow-travelling with revolutionary communism, as well as to their dedication to socially committed, less self-consciously artistic writing. On the other hand, in terms of literary sexual politics and homosexual emancipation, the author of Maurice stands as a natural beacon to Christopher Isherwood, whose novels and autobiographies were to feature queer and/or openly gay characters (A Single Man), including his own autobiographical selves or personae (Down There on a Visit, Kathleen and Frank, Christopher and his Kind). Besides, in terms of politics and ethics, Samuel Hynes has shown in The Auden Generation (1984) that if...

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