E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel is an innovative and effusive treatise on a literary form that, at the time of publication, had only recently begun to enjoy serious academic consideration.
First given as a series of lectures at Cambridge University, Aspects of the Novel is Forster’s analysis of this great literary form. Here he rejects the ‘pseudoscholarship’ of historical criticism – ‘that great demon of chronology’ – that considers writers in terms of the period in which they wrote and instead asks us to imagine the great novelists working together in a single room. He discusses aspects of people, plot, fantasy and rhythm, making illuminating comparisons between novelists such as Proust and James, Dickens and Thackeray, Eliot and Dostoyevsky – the features shared by their books and the ways in which they differ. Written in a wonderfully engaging and conversational manner, this penetrating work of criticism is full of Forster’s habitual irreverence, wit and wisdom.