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E. M. Forster’s Legacies in British Fiction


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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Damon Galgut’s Arctic Summer (2014) in Context (Celia Cruz-Rus)


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CELIA CRUZ-RUS (Universidad de Málaga1)

Damon Galgut’s Arctic Summer (2014) in Context

A novelist, a critic and a humanist, Edward Morgan Forster is not just an eminent Edwardian, but, rather, the Edwardian. After all, the first images that usually come to our minds when we think about such period have, either in a straightforward or in a mediated way, been shaped by him. His fiction, neither Victorian, nor modernist enough, limited in dates and setting to the Edwardian period, reflects the spirit of an age as liminal as himself; an age to which the twenty-first century is returning through different channels, and that relies on Forster as an ambassador more than forty years after his death.

But this partnership goes beyond the boundaries of Forster’s texts: it is an entity with its own character. In this sense, the study of contemporary fiction and that of neo-historical fiction set in the Edwardian period in particular stand as a tool towards proving that the relationship between Forster and ourselves is not unidirectional, but twofold. In other words, it shows that to the traditional Forster who lived and wrote in the past and influences our present, we must add the presence of another Forster, half dead, half alive, partly real and partly invented, who can only exist today.

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