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A Room with a View ()

Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (79)

Britain's answer to Henry James here provides us with the tale of Lucy Honeychurch and her forbidden love for George Emerson, the unsuitable young man she meets in Italy. While social mores dictate that she make a match with the more proper gentleman, Cecil Vyse, who is courting her, Lucy is torn between passion and propriety. Ultimately, she chooses Emerson who reminds her of "a room with a view" offering her a new vista on life.

This is a comedy of manners, as we can see from the subtlety of characters names: Vyse represents the constricted vice-like society, Emerson is "nature" a la Ralph Waldo & Thoureau. And, of course, the lesson we learn is that the entrenched morals of society should be thrown away in favor of passion & the natural. This common theme of the top 100--we've seen it in Edith Wharton, & others--seems even more moronic as we close the century, the elevation of passion over morality has never looked worse than in the wake of the Clinton scandals. Further, as we now know, this admonition must be read in light of Forster's own homosexuality, adding an altogether different cast to the call for discarding social convention.

If you feel compelled to read Forster, I advise sticking to A Passage to India.


Grade: (D)


E.M. Forster Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: E. M. Forster
    -ESSAY: ‘Recorded and honoured’: New light on E. M. Forster’s last love (Peter J. Conradi, June 2023, TLS)
    -ESSAY: “A Passage to India” on Its 100th Birthday (Sameer Pandya, March 27, 2024, LA Review of Books)

Book-related and General Links:
-A Room With a View (links)
    -E(dward) M(organ) Forster (1879-1970)
    -only connect...


Can't believe you wrote a review of this book and didn't mention anything about the incredible beauty of the author's language.

- Alice

- Jul-13-2006, 01:13


Who do you Americans think you are?

- Julian Kaye

- Mar-16-2005, 15:22


I don't think E M Forster is Britain's answer to Henry James, rather, it is the other way round

- Vicky

- Sep-29-2002, 09:50