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Only Connect

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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Coupling: the ‘Lost Form’ of 20th-Century Literature? – Or Only Disconnect (Nicolas Pierre Boileau)


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NICOLAS PIERRE BOILEAU (Aix-Marseille Université, LERMA, EA 853)

Coupling: the ‘Lost Form’ of 20th-Century Literature? – Or Only Disconnect

For a long time, the story of modernism seemed to run smoothly: modernity was said to have disrupted the apprehension of reality (Thacker 48), leading to a feeling of instability reflected in narrative techniques that conspicuously tried to account for the shattering of subjectivity, the unreliability of truth and the multiplicity of viewpoints that rendered traditional narratives and storylines incomplete. At least this is how we have been told to read modernism as B. Richardson reminds us: ‘In the case of fiction, the tendency has been to lump all pre-War non- or antirealist aesthetics together under the bulky rubric of modernism’ (Richardson 296). In his recent monograph, L. Mellet is aware of this official story and he warns critics against taking Forster’s modernism at face value. The British author’s inclusion in modernism, if relevant, must be reworked from the perspective of contemporary thought (Mellet 18). Forster indeed was not entirely satisfied with the sense of disconnection that characterised his modern period and dominated the Bloomsbury discussions. To a certain extent, his novels have often been read in relation to the category of the ‘comedy of manners’ rather than the experimental works by Woolf, or Joyce, whose structures, narratives techniques and approaches to characterisation sponsor a vision of fragments and dislocation.1 The advent of French theory and post-structuralism could be said to have made disconnection...

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