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Howards End

Overview

"Only Connect," Forster's key aphorism, informs this novel about an English country house, Howards End, and its influence on the lives of the wealthy and materialistic Wilcoxes; the cultured, idealistic Schlegel sisters; and the poor bank clerk Leonard Bast. Bringing together people from different classes and nations by way of sympathetic insight and understanding, Howards End eloquently addresses the question "Who shall inherit England?"

About the Series: Each Norton Critical Edition includes an authoritative ...
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Howards End

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Overview

"Only Connect," Forster's key aphorism, informs this novel about an English country house, Howards End, and its influence on the lives of the wealthy and materialistic Wilcoxes; the cultured, idealistic Schlegel sisters; and the poor bank clerk Leonard Bast. Bringing together people from different classes and nations by way of sympathetic insight and understanding, Howards End eloquently addresses the question "Who shall inherit England?"

About the Series: Each Norton Critical Edition includes an authoritative text, contextual and source materials, and a wide range of interpretations-from contemporary perspectives to the most current critical theory-as well as a bibliography and, in most cases, a chronology of the author's life and work.

Howards End, published in 1910, concerns the relationships that develop between the imaginative, life-loving Schlegel family -- Margaret, Helen, and their brother Tibby -- and the seemingly cool, pragmatic Wilcoxes -- Henry and Ruth and their children Charles, Paul, and Evie.

Margaret finds a soulmate in Ruth, who before she dies declares in a note that her family's country house, Howards End, should go to Margaret. Her survivors choose to ignore her wishes, but after marrying Henry, Margaret ultimately does come to own the house.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
Readers familiar with E. M. Forster will recognize the words "only connect" as the anthem of his 1910 novel, Howards End, in which he portrays the often-strained relationships between the bohemian Schlegels (Margaret, Helen, and their brother Tibby, so labeled both because of their expressiveness and their passion for the arts and because of their part-German ancestry) and the coolly aristocratic Wilcoxes. Forster further uses these relationships to explore the changes taking place in Edwardian England, including the rise of the middle and working classes and the first hints of the crumbling of the British Empire. Margaret first becomes connected to the Wilcox family when she befriends Ruth, the matriarch, with whom she feels a kinship that transcends both family and class lines. Ruth's dying wish — to leave her family's country house, Howards End, to Margaret — reveals the depth of their bond, but the Wilcoxes close ranks and vow never to disclose this wish to Margaret, determined to save their heritage from the racially mixed and caste-defying Schlegels. Ironically, Margaret later marries Henry Wilcox, Ruth's widower, and so comes into possession of Howards End anyway. But their marriage is doomed, in part, by their irreconcilable temperaments, and Margaret late in the novel expresses her wish for her overly reserved husband, the one thing that might save him: "Only connect."

This all-too-often-quoted line has, in my opinion, done both Forster and the novel more harm than good, burying the novelist's otherwise avidly political writing under a wave ofmushysentimentalism. "Only connect" has left too many readers with a mistaken impression of Forster the spiritualist, Forster the proto-new ager. This impression has only been augmented by the Merchant-Ivory-ization of the novels into films that have largely ignored and glossed over the quite oppositional political stances that Forster's novels advocated. Instead, to appreciate the complexity of Forster's writing, we need to read "Only connect" in its parallels to Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along?" — a lovely sentiment, but one that the embedded structures of race and class conflict in our culture make all but impossible. To take Forster's "Only connect" too literally is to ignore both the irony and the critique implied in the line. Time and time again we see in Forster's work that merely connecting, just getting along, simply isn't enough in a world divided by ideological conflict.

Many of Forster's overtly political pieces — particularly his radio broadcasts — are collected in Two Cheers for Democracy, in which Forster not only takes a firm anti-Nazi stance, but also turns that critical lens on Britain itself, pointing out that :
[I]t is very easy to see fanaticism in other people, but difficult to spot in oneself. Take the evil of racial prejudice. We can easily detect it in the Nazis; their conduct has been infamous ever since they rose to power. But we ourselves — are we guiltless? We are far less guilty than they are. Yet is there no racial prejudice in the British Empire? Is there no colour question?
These are the sorts of questions that haunt the pages of Forster's novels. In A Passage to India, perhaps the most obvious example, a Muslim doctor is wrongly accused of assaulting a young English woman. In the stridency of the reaction of the Anglo-Indian community — and the vehemence with which that community turns on the young woman when she realizes her error and withdraws her charges — we see the ways in which racial prejudice was an inescapable component of the Empire. This prejudice is so strong, and the division between the ruling class and the "natives" so distinct, that no amount of "connecting" can undo its damage. We watch, heartsick, at the end of the novel, as the now-exonerated doctor and his lone English defender, once on the verge of a genuine friendship, part for the last time, the doctor claiming that only when the English have been driven out of India will they be friends:
"Why can't we be friends now?" said the other, holding him affectionately. "It's what I want. It's what you want."
But the horses didn't want it — they swerved apart; the earth didn't want it, sending up rocks through which riders must pass single file; the temples, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion, the Guest House, that came into view as they issued from the gap and saw Mau beneath: they didn't want it, they said in their hundred voices, "No, not yet," and the sky said, "No, not there."
And again, the mystical here is not the end to be settled with, as though the eternal, unchangeable nature of man dictates the separation of the races. It is, rather, a cover for the human politics that have created this separation, seen in the oppositions of temple and jail, palace and Guest House.

In other Forster novels, the politics in question are less national and more personal in tenor. In A Room With a View, Lucy Honeychurch must defy her family, her class, and all of British convention in order to marry George Emerson, a passionate young man who may be the son of a socialist. And, more notably, in Maurice, a novel written in 1913 but not published until 1971, Forster depicts a young man confronting his homosexuality, creating an overwhelmingly sympathetic — and far in advance of its time — portrait of the possibilities of genuine love between men. But it is in Howards End that we see the personal and the political most intertwined. While Margaret is embarked upon her adventure with the Wilcoxes, her sister Helen takes under her wing a young clerk who is struggling to rise out of the working class. They do connect — in more ways than one — but this relationship is ultimately disastrous for the young man. Despite the Schlegels' infinite goodwill, their unthinking manipulation of this man brings him into conflict with the power of the Wilcoxes and finally destroys him.

It is indisputable that the sense of connections across class and racial lines embodied in Margaret's injunction to "only connect" is a key element, for Forster, in solving many contemporary political crises. But it is the complex, nuanced exploration of the connections between the political and the personal, the material and the spiritual, that is the great strength of Forster's work. The "only" in that injunction is as much a critique of Margaret's easy liberalism as it is a benediction, reminding us that, while the world might be different if we could all just get along, some substantive things need to change before the getting-along can begin.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick

From the Publisher
With a new Introduction by James Ivory
Commentary by Virginia Woolf, Lionel Trilling, Malcolm Bradbury, and Joseph Epstein

"Howards End is a classic English novel . . . superb and wholly cherishable . . . one that admirers have no trouble reading over and over again," said Alfred Kazin.

First published in 1910, Howards End is the novel that earned E. M. Forster recognition as a major writer. At its heart lie two families—the wealthy and business-minded Wilcoxes and the cultured and idealistic Schlegels. When the beautiful and independent Helen Schlegel begins an impetuous affair with the ardent Paul Wilcox, a series of events is sparked—some very funny, some very tragic—that results in a dispute over who will inherit Howards End, the Wilcoxes' charming country home. As much about the clash between individual wills as the clash between the sexes and the classes, Howards End is a novel whose central tenet, "Only connect," remains a powerful prescription for modern life.

"Howards End is undoubtedly Forster's masterpiece; it develops to their full the themes and attitudes of [his] early books and throws back upon them a new and enhancing light," wrote the critic Lionel Trilling.

From Barnes & Noble
The story of two sisters of liberal and artistic temperament whose lives collide with those of a hard-headed, haughty, and status-driven father and son. Forster's masterpiece about the ways in which social class and money impose themselves between people and the world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141182131
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 296,545
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Morgan Forster was born January 1, 1879 in London and was raised from infancy by his mother and paternal aunts after his father's death. Forster’s boyhood experiences at the Tonbridge School, Kent were an unpleasant contrast to the happiness he found at home, and his suffering left him with an abiding dislike of the English public school system. At King’s College, Cambridge, however he was able to pursue freely his varied interests in philosophy, literature and Mediterranean civilization, and he soon determined to devote his life to writing.

His first two novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and The Longest Journey (1907), were both poorly received, and it was not until the publication of Howards End, in 1910, that Forster achieved his first major success as a novelist, with the work many considered his finest creation.

Forster first visited India during 1912 and 1913, and after three years as a noncombatant in Alexandria, Egypt, during World War I and several years in England, he returned for an extended visit in 1921. From those experiences came his most celebrated novel, A Passage to India, his darkest and most probing work and perhaps the best novel about India written by a foreigner.

As a man of letters , Forster was honored during and after World War II for his resistance to any and all forms of tyranny and totalitarianism, and King’s College awarded him a permanent fellowship in 1949. Forster spent his later years at Cambridge writing and teaching, and died at Coventry, England, on June 7, 1970. His novel, Maurice, written several decades earlier, was published posthumously in 1971.

Biography

Edward Morgan Forster was born in London in 1879, attended Tonbridge School as a day boy, and went on to King's College, Cambridge, in 1897. With King's he had a lifelong connection and was elected to an Honorary Fellowship in 1946. He declared that his life as a whole had not been dramatic, and he was unfailingly modest about his achievements. Interviewed by the BBC on his eightieth birthday, he said: "I have not written as much as I'd like to... I write for two reasons: partly to make money and partly to win the respect of people whom I respect... I had better add that I am quite sure I am not a great novelist." Eminent critics and the general public have judged otherwise and in his obituary The Times called him "one of the most esteemed English novelists of his time."

He wrote six novels, four of which appeared before the First World War, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908), and Howard's End (1910). An interval of fourteen years elapsed before he published A Passage to India. It won both the Prix Femina Vie Heureuse and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Maurice, his novel on a homosexual theme, finished in 1914, was published posthumously in 1971. He also published two volumes of short stories; two collections of essays; a critical work, Aspects of the Novel; The Hill of Devi, a fascinating record of two visits Forster made to the Indian State of Dewas Senior; two biographies; two books about Alexandria (where he worked for the Red Cross in the First World War); and, with Eric Crozier, the libretto for Britten's opera Billy Budd. He died in June 1970.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Edward Morgan Forster
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 1, 1879
    2. Place of Birth:
      London
    1. Date of Death:
      June 7, 1970
    2. Place of Death:
      Coventry, England

Read an Excerpt

'The Signora had no business to do it,' said Miss Bartlett, 'no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!'

'And a Cockney, besides!' said Lucy, who had been further saddened by the Signora's unexpected accent. 'It might be London.' She looked at the two rows of English people who were sitting at the table; at the row of white bottles of water and red bottles of wine that ran between the English people; at the portraits of the late Queen and the late Poet Laureate that hung behind the English people, heavily framed; at the notice of the English church (Rev. Cuthbert Eager, M.A. Oxon.), that was the only other decoration of the wall. 'Charlotte, don't you feel, too, that we might be in London? I can hardly believe that all kinds of other things are just outside. I suppose it is one's being so tired.'

'This meat has surely been used for soup,' said Miss Bartlett, laying down her fork.

'I want so to see the Arno. The rooms the Signora promised us in her letter would have looked over the Arno. The Signora had no business to do it at all. Oh, it is a shame!'

'Any nook does for me,' Miss Bartlett continued; 'but it does seem hard that you shouldn't have a view.'

Lucy felt that she had been selfish. 'Charlotte, you mustn't spoil me: of course, you must look over the Arno, too. I meant that. The first vacant room in the front--'

'You must have it,' said Miss Bartlett, part of whose travelling expenses were paid by Lucy's mother--a piece of generosity to which she made many a tactful allusion.

'No, no. You must haveit.'

'I insist on it. Your mother would never forgive me, Lucy.'

'She would never forgive me.'

The ladies' voices grew animated, and--if the sad truth be owned--a little peevish. They were tired, and under the guise of unselfishness they wrangled. Some of their neighbours interchanged glances, and one of them--one of the ill-bred people whom one does meet abroad--leant forward over the table and actually intruded into their argument. He said:

'I have a view, I have a view.'

Miss Bartlett was startled. Generally at a pension people looked them over for a day or two before speaking, and often did not find out that they would 'do' till they had gone. She knew that the intruder was ill-bred, even before she glanced at him. He was an old man, of heavy build, with a fair, shaven face and large eyes. There was something childish in those eyes, though it was not the childishness of senility. What exactly it was Miss Bartlett did not stop to consider, for her glance passed on to his clothes. These did not attract her. He was probably trying to become acquainted with them before they got into the swim. So she assumed a dazed expression when he spoke to her, and then said: 'A view? Oh, a view! How delightful a view is!'

'This is my son,' said the old man; 'his name's George. He has a view too.'

'Ah,' said Miss Bartlett, repressing Lucy, who was about to speak.

'What I mean,' he continued, 'is that you can have our rooms, and we'll have yours. We'll change.'

The better class of tourist was shocked at this, and sympathized with the new-comers. Miss Bartlett, in reply, opened her mouth as little as possible, and said:

'Thank you very much indeed; that is out of the question.'

'Why?' said the old man, with both fists on the table.

'Because it is quite out of the question, thank you.'

'You see, we don't like to take--' began Lucy.

Her cousin again repressed her.

'But why?' he persisted. 'Women like looking at a view; men don't.' And he thumped with his fists like a naughty child, and turned to his son, saying, 'George, persuade them!'

'It's so obvious they should have the rooms,' said the son. 'There's nothing else to say.'

He did not look at the ladies as he spoke, but his voice was perplexed and sorrowful. Lucy, too, was perplexed; but she saw that they were in for what is known as 'quite a scene,' and she had an odd feeling that whenever these ill-bred tourists spoke the contest widened and deepened till it dealt, not with rooms and views, but with--well, with something quite different, whose existence she had not realized before. Now the old man attacked Miss Bartlett almost violently: Why should she not change? What possible objection had she? They would clear out in half an hour.

Miss Bartlett, though skilled in the delicacies of conversation, was powerless in the presence of brutality. It was impossible to snub any one so gross. Her face reddened with displeasure. She looked around as much as to say, 'Are you all like this?' And two little old ladies, who were sitting further up the table, with shawls hanging over the backs of the chairs, looked back, clearly indicating 'We are not; we are genteel.'

'Eat your dinner, dear,' she said to Lucy, and began to toy again with the meat that she had once censured.

Lucy mumbled that those seemed very odd people opposite.

'Eat your dinner, dear. This pension is a failure. Tomorrow we will make a change.'

Hardly had she announced this fell decision when she reversed it. The curtains at the end of the room parted, and revealed a clergyman, stout but attractive, who hurried forward to take his place at the table, cheerfully apologizing for his lateness. Lucy, who had not yet acquired decency, at once rose to her feet, exclaiming: 'Oh, oh! Why, it's Mr. Beebe! Oh, how perfectly lovely! Oh, Charlotte, we must stop now, however bad the rooms are. Oh!'

Miss Bartlett said with more restraint:

'How do you do, Mr. Beebe? I expect that you have forgotten us: Miss Bartlett and Miss Honeychurch, who were at Tunbridge Wells when you helped the Vicar of St. Peter's that very cold Easter.'

The clergyman, who had the air of one on a holiday, did not remember the ladies quite as clearly as they remembered him. But he came forward pleasantly enough and accepted the chair into which he was beckoned by Lucy.

'I am so glad to see you,&rdquo said the girl, who was in a state of spiritual starvation, and would have been glad to see the waiter if her cousin had permitted it. 'Just fancy how small the world is. Summer Street, too, makes it so specially funny.'

'Miss Honeychurch lives in the parish of Summer Street,' said Miss Bartlett, filling up the gap, 'and she happened to tell me in the course of conversation that you have just accepted the living--'

'Yes, I heard from mother so last week. She didn't know that I knew you at Tunbridge Wells; but I wrote back at once, and I said: 'Mr. Beebe is--'

'Quite right,' said the clergyman. 'I move into the Rectory at Summer Street next June. I am lucky to be appointed to such a charming neighbourhood.'

'Oh, how glad I am! The name of our house is Windy Corner.'

Mr. Beebe bowed.

'There is mother and me generally, and my brother, though it's not often we get him to ch-- The church is rather far off, I mean.'

'Lucy, dearest, let Mr. Beebe eat his dinner.'

'I am eating it, thank you, and enjoying it.'

He preferred to talk to Lucy, whose playing he remembered, rather than to Miss Bartlett, who probably remembered his sermons. He asked the girl whether she knew Florence well, and was informed at some length that she had never been there before. It is delightful to advise a new-comer, and he was first in the field.
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Table of Contents

About the Series
Abut This Volume
Introduction: Biographical and Historical Contexts 3
The Complete Text 21
A Critical History of Howards End 295
Psychoanalytic Criticism and Howards End 313
Picturing the Self as Other: Howards End as Psychobiography 329
Cultural Criticism and Howards End 345
Howards End: Fiction as History 364
Feminist and Gender Criticism and Howards End 379
Gesturing toward an Open Space: Gender, Form, and Language in Howards End 400
Marxist Criticism and Howards End 416
Howards End: Gasoline and Goddesses 432
Deconstruction and Howards End 447
Just Reading Howards End 467
Glossary of Critical and Theoretical Terms 483
About the Contributors 497
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2008

    Outstanding Classical Novel!

    Personal Review I really enjoyed the novel Howards End by EM Forster. I found it to be a very intriguing and classical book about the difference between two families in the nineteenth century. During some parts of my reading I also noticed that I was able to become very interested in the book. Since I had such a strong liking of the book I would highly recommend it. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys classical texts, but also to anyone who would like to expand on the type of books that they read. Literary Analysis Two of the main characters in Howards End are the Schlegel sisters. The sisters are Helen and Margaret (aka Meg). Helen was a little irresponsible but yet charming. Margaret was the more responsible one but also was known to ask questions at the wrong time. ¿You would say the wrong thing to a certainty you would. In your anxiety for Helen¿s happiness you would offend the whole of these Wilcoxes by asking one of your impetuous questions- not that one minds offending them,¿ Said their Aunt Juley about Margaret. At the beginning of the story I noticed that the sisters were very close. As the story kept going I noticed different events that seemed to be moving them apart from each other. One of the major events that I thought showed this was Margaret¿s marriage to Henry. Since Henry and Helen did not particularly get along, Helen and Margaret didn¿t see one another as often. There was an instance towards the end of the story when Margaret didn¿t even know where Helen was. To get a hold of Helen again she wrote a letter to her saying that their Aunt had become very ill, this was the only idea she could come up with to get Helen to visit. I think the author created these characters to show how different conflicts really can take place. I find the characters in the story to be very believable. This is something that I think is important in a story in order for the story to even seem realistic. The setting of this story was in England during the early nineteen-hundreds. During this time there was some conflicts between the English and the German. This is also part of the reason that I believe they chose to use the Schlegel¿s and the Wilcoxes. They were two very different families. A specific place that the climax of the story takes place is at Howards End. This is the house that the Wilcoxes owned before Margaret inherited the property from her husband Henry¿s mother. This property creates a place that all of the characters are very familiar with. It is also the place where Helen stayed with the Wilcoxes causing the two families to have such a strong connection. After reading the book I was able to observe something I found interesting about the home. I believe that it is a comfort zone for the family, a place where they can all connect. Another important aspect to the story is the point of view. The point of view the author has in this story is third person. An example of this view is proved by the following piece of text: ¿She recovered herself, but not before Charles had observed her. Stupid and attentive, he was watching the scene.¿ This piece of text from the book shows the words she, he, and her, which are all examples of words used in third-person point of view. This point of view doesn¿t cause the reader to choose sides with any of the characters. Instead the reader can choose their own sides and also know what all of the characters think. That is the reason why I believe that the author chose to use third-person view. This was an amazing novel by EM Forster that encourages me to read more of his novels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2003

    A work of art!

    I found this book to be very descriptive and artistic, I love the way the author describes all his characters, even the lesser ones. (For example, the wife of Charles Wilcox.) He puts things in a way that seems to be the makings of a very beautiful film, though I am sure there probably is a movie out already about this book! I would reccomend this to just about any classic book lover, perhaps even to Jane Autsen fans!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2001

    A Britsh Novel by E.M. Forster

    E.M. Forster's Howard's End draws an excellent image of life in England during the early part of the Twentieth Century. Forster's setting and diction are very well written. While I was reading, I was able visualize the scene in my mind. The first few chapters of the novel seem slow. I find that novels and short stories that begin the first paragraph with a letter to some other character irritating and a turn-off. It was not until Leonard Bast was introduced that I started to become more interested in book. I was cheering for Leonard throughout the novel. On the contrary, I felt that Henry Wilcox was cold and ruthless. He did not realize how important it is to help out other people who are less fortunate. It was no surprise that in a recent movie adaptation of Howard's End, in the movie the role of Henry Wilcox was performed by Anthony Hopkins. The characterization was also developed very well. Every character was tied in to the main plot in some manner. The novel was in my opinion a little too long. It was complex reading mainly because it was written in early Twentieth Century British English. There was a great deal of conflict between many of the important characters. To me that was one of the high points of the novel. It kept my interest in the book. But I found it very hard to understand what Margaret Schlegel saw in Henry in the first place. Certainly it wasn't that he had good looks and a great sense of humor! I would recommend Howard's End to other readers, especially those who enjoy early Twentieth Century British literature. The story was entertaining. This novel is without a doubt a British classic. >

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