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E.M. Forster: Aspects of the Novel

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Sarah X

on 13 September 2013

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Transcript of E.M. Forster: Aspects of the Novel

E.M. Forster: Aspects of the Novel
E.M. Forster: Aspects of the Novel
What is a story?
a narrative of events arranged in time sequence (what happened and in what order)
a primitive feature
has one merit: suspense
value has no role in story(no event is more important than another)
the basis of novel, but can't stand alone
a narrative of events with an emphasis on casuality
for example, a story would be: the king died and then the queen died, and a plot would be: the king died and the queen died of grief

plot demands the reader to remember incidents and create connections
this allows the novelist to delay explanations and introduce mystery
mystery is essential to the plot

a balance between people and events is difficult to achieve
this is because characters ought to be predictable but the events unpredictable
E.M. Forster
successful novelist
later an academic
3 of his novels(A Room with a View, Howard's End, A Passage to India) were made into movies
In 1927, Forster gave a series of lectures
These were later published as Aspects of a Novel
Aspects of a Novel has been criticized for being outdated, especially when detailed manuals on writing were being published.
Characters in General
characters are needed
characters are not real people, but are like real people
characters need little sleep and little food, and love is overrepresented in them
characters seem more real because their hidden lives are revealed, unlike in real life when we never get to know everything about a person
if a character isn't fully known, the novel gives the feeling that the author know the character fully
Forster believes the technique of telling stories from different view points is not as important as having the reader accept what the writers says and having a proper mixture of characters
Flat Characters
flat characters are easily recognized and easily remembered
this appeals to our yearn for permanence
flat characters are good when comic but boring when tragic or serious
Round Characters
round characters have further dimensions then first shown, which are revealed by events that demand them
round characters are surprising, unlike flat characters
Flat and Round Characters
produces special effect
implies the supernatural, but may not do this by no more than simply hinting through a magical quality in events
includes parody and adaptions of earlier works
this helps authors who have trouble creating characters
adds an accent to the novelist's voice
the theme is the universe or universal
not symbolism (where characters and events represent concrete meanings)
prophecy is about mysterious, imprecise meanings
prophecy is the ordinary world of fiction, but reaches back into the universal
Fantasy and Prophecy
a novel has a pattern when it has a geometric shape
for example, a circular shape of a character moving through friends until the character reaches beginning again
pattern is aesthetic and causes us to see the book as a whole
pattern can be motivated by anything but is mostly motivated by the plot
forcing characters into a pattern may cause a novel to lose the immense richness of life-like characters
the verdict is often, "Beautifully done, not worth doing it,"
similar to a musical motif which reappears with slight variations
rhythm helps to unify novel
rhythm has a life of it's own; it stitches the book together from the inside
it is doubted it can be achieved by writers who plan books beforehand
exquisite, can be obtained without mutilating characters and lessons the need of external form
Pattern and Rhythm
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