First, a confession. I can count on my right hand the number of books in my lifetime I haven’t finished. As a rule, I finish all books I start (even if it takes years). You never know when they will turn around on you. This used to be one of the few. I was in my last year of grad school at the time, and only got about 80% of the way through before our class discussion, and just . . . never got around to actually finishing it (the ending was of course spoiled for me during our discussion.) On the one hand, I really should have actually finished it at the time, because the ending was lovely. But on the other, it was nice (having forgot most of the rest of the book) reading it here for the first time, when I’m older and can appreciate it more (I appreciated the rest of the book more as well).
Howards End is about a lot of things. Britain before the war. Class struggle. Property rights, inheritance. Intellectualism, capitalism, Empire, good, bad? And so forth. But mostly I think it’s about the things that get in the way of people connecting with each other, understanding each other. Margaret Schlegel (half German, half English) is Forster’s perfect heroine. She’s flawed, but she has the gift of what he calls “proportion.” She believes above all things that personal, real connection between people is the only thing that matters, but she also sees the things that get in the way.
Forster’s writing still feels relevant to me. I’m sure some of the cultural specificities were lost on me. But the big points come through just fine. I ended up loving the characters, and getting very involved in what happened to them. I also bookmarked about a thousand quotes. Forster could write.
I’ve only read one more of his books, but it’s been a very long time. I should get on reading the others.
Read Harder Challenge 2018: An assigned book you hated (or never finished).