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Howard's End
by E.M. Forster

Synopsis:
Like all of Forster's work, Howards End concerns itself with class, nationality, economic status, and how each of these affects personal relationships. It follows the intertwined fortunes of the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, and the Wilcox family over the course of several years. The Schlegels are intellectuals, devotees of art and literature. The Wilcoxes, on the other hand, can't be bothered with the life of the mind or the heart, leading, instead, outer lives of "telegrams and anger" that foster "such virtues as neatness, decision, and obedience, virtues of the second rank, no doubt, but they have formed our civilization." Helen, after a brief flirtation with one of the Wilcox sons, has developed an antipathy for the family; Margaret, however, forms a brief but intense friendship with Mrs. Wilcox, which is cut short by the older woman's death. When her family discovers a scrap of paper requesting that Henry give their home, Howards End, to Margaret, it precipitates a spiritual crisis among them that will take years to resolve.


Topic: Howard's End (1 of 74), Read 80 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Susan Pardue (ezrabird@aol.com) Date: Saturday, January 01, 2000 06:41 AM Happy New Year, everyone, and Happy E. M. Forster's Birthday. It seems very appropriate to start the Howard's End discussion today. I hope everyone is enjoying it. I bought it last fall, not even knowing that this was where the aphorism "Only connect" came from, and it took only a few pages before I was totally captivated by it. I've grown a little weary of the ugly duckling motif in so many of the books I've read over the years--break away from those different from one's self, find those who are like you and can therefore appreciate you--and Margaret Schlegel's desires for proportion, perspective, and connection, her ability to appreciate those who are different from herself are delighting me just as much on my second trip through the book as initially. I will do my best later in the discussion to look at Howard's End with a critical eye, but all I have to say now is I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!
Topic: Howard's End (2 of 74), Read 73 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, January 01, 2000 10:35 AM Susan, I'm not done yet, but I just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying this book as much as you. Howard's End is both gentle and witty -- an unusual combination. Ann
Topic: Howard's End (3 of 74), Read 76 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@juno.com) Date: Saturday, January 01, 2000 03:54 PM Happy New Year Ann and Susan, Looks like our group picked a real winner with Howard's End. This time I am a (relatively) early bird and am 1/3rd through it. I like all aspects of the book. What caught my interest so far is the similarity with other books written about this period in England which deal with the enormous effort to hang on to middle or upper class status. If you perused The Portable Victorian Reader, ed. by Gorden S. Haight Penguin Books you know in part why this money and class were that important. The lower classes lived in unbelievable squalor. But I agree with description of Margaret's personality even if she seems to be a bit hyper for my conservative taste. The contrast between her English-German family and the Wilcoxes (merchants -non-academic types) is very interesting and enlightening. People so far are described as basically decent even in spite of their class prejudices. This is especially true of aunt Julie Munt who starts open warfare about her niece Helen's involvement with Paul Wilcox. What amazed and alarmed me was the fact that one first embrace and innocent kiss means "Engagement to be Married". Hum.... Things were pretty tough for young people in those days! One of the reason I am happy about the choice of this book is that it represents a major change from the Lolita's obsessions... So we all seem to have survived the predicted Y2K catastrophe and now can congratulate each other having made it into a new millennium - somehow. Ernie
Topic: Howard's End (4 of 74), Read 77 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Karen Mikhail (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, January 01, 2000 04:30 PM I finished a couple of days ago and really did enjoy the book. It took me a little while to get into it, but once I did I was enthralled. I must say, I didn't see the ending of the book coming at all. I was totally surprised by that, but upon thinking about it found it plausible. I borrowed a video of Howard's End from the library and plan to watch it tomorrow and then reread the book. I'll let you know how the movie compares. Karen
Topic: Howard's End (5 of 74), Read 79 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Saturday, January 01, 2000 04:56 PM I also am 1/3 of the way through. This is a reread for me but for some reason (probably the stimulating company of this board!), I'm getting a lot more out of it this time. So far, one of my favorite parts is the description of listening to Beethoven's Fifth at the beginning. Makes me want to read along while listening. I saw the movie before reading the book the first time. The movie is a much more vivid memory to me than the book. But I think, after our discussion, the book is what will resonate in the future. Bea
Topic: Howard's End (6 of 74), Read 73 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Sunday, January 02, 2000 08:25 AM I finished Howard's End yesterday, spent most of the last 2 days reading it because I go back to work tomorrow. I loved every minute of it. I have the Modern Library edition which includes some interesting articles. One point made by one of the writers (Lionel Trilling) is that Forster actually doesn't go outside the middle classes for his characters in this book. The three families are representative of the span of the middle classes with Leonard Bast "at the extreme edge of gentility", at the very edge of the "abyss" of poverty. The Wilcoxes are at the upper end of the scale and the Schlegels are in the middle, "the point of consciousness of the novel; upon them the story balances, touching and connecting the wealthier middle class and the depressed middle class." Interesting way of sort of diagramming it all out, I thought. I actually thought of the Basts as being of the lower class and the Wilcoxes of the upper. However, as someone else commented, there were people in the lower classes who made the Basts looks wealthy, I imagine. And, I'm sure there were far richer people than the Wilcoxes. Some of the point of the novel according to the articles I've read is the question of who would inherit England as the rigid class system begins to breaks down. If you take the house at Howard's End as representing England and look at who is going to ultimately inherit it in the end, Forster comes to a pretty interesting conclusion. Am looking forward to more of you finishing. I found it simply a very enjoyable read and want to thank the person who nominated it. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Forster's writing. I'd only read A Room With a View and A Passage to India before and both of those were on tape. Forster deserves to be read in the good old traditional way and savored. Barb
Topic: Howard's End (7 of 74), Read 69 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, January 02, 2000 11:56 PM I liked this book very much. I'd seen the movie a few years ago, but fortunately my poor memory resulted in most of it being fresh for me. Incidentally, if you aren't finished with the book and don't know the story, you may want to wait before you read these notes because this story has some interesting twists that might slip out. Ernie, I too was surprised that a mere kiss could be interpreted as a proposal and have such an effect on the life of the recipient. Did anyone feel this was implausible? Barb, it's pretty frightening to think of the lives of the lower classes if the Basts were in the middle, isn't it? In many ways, I thought that this book reflected Forster's disapproval of the modern commercial class. He sees its members as a necessary evil, but generally finds them smug, obtuse, selfish, and totally lacking in sympathy for those who don't have their advantages. The spacey intellectuals like Helen aren't a whole lot better. Both sides need someone idealistic but practical, like Margaret, to modify their extremes. Margaret is a delightful heroine. She seems surrounded by deeply flawed family members. What do you think --does her competence and ability to smooth the way for them encourage their weaknesses? Ann
Topic: Howard's End (8 of 74), Read 63 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Patrick Nolan (patrick.nolan@matthewsgroup.com) Date: Monday, January 03, 2000 10:31 AM One point that Forster insisted on--which the movie didn't really communicate--is that England (and thus the world) needs both Wilcoxes and Schlegels. That's the trick (connect the prose and the passion). I think it's easy to get caught up in our general sympathy for Schlegels--as bookish, vaguely cultured people how could we not?--and forget that the world also needs the people who know how things work and make things run on time. A world of Schlegels would be as depressing as a world of Wilcoxes. Leonard Bast (and those like him) is a continuing mystery: no one know what to do about him, and well-intentioned but patronizing efforts to help him may just end in disaster.
Topic: Howard's End (9 of 74), Read 65 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, January 03, 2000 10:54 AM I read Passage to India about a year ago and enjoyed the work immensely. I have also read the science-fiction short story Forster wrote about overpopulation, but I'm afraid the title eludes me at the present time. I am not even a third into this book, much disappointed that it is NOT a book about a guy named Howard contemplating suicide. But I love what I've encountered so far, including that lovely chapter devoted to the sundry ways to appreciate the music of Beethoven. I look forward to this discussion. This is a first-rate novel. Dan
Topic: Howard's End (10 of 74), Read 67 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Monday, January 03, 2000 12:43 PM Well, I had to go back to school, but then discovered that both my teacher and my classmate are sick. That meant I got to finish Forster's wonderful book this morning. What good notes we've had so far! I'm still trying to work out Forster's attitude toward the Wilcoxes and Basts. Surely, Charles Wilcox is one of the most despicable villains I've encountered lately. I agree with Patrick's comment that Forster stresses the necessity for Wilcoxes in the modern world. However, I don't think Forster saw the modern world as necessarily a good thing. So many references to stinking motorcars, the expansion of the city, and the world in flux. And the book was prescient in its depiction of the inevitable conflict between Germany and England. The First World War was the final nail in the coffin of a world in which a family like the Schleigels could pursue learning and culture undisturbed. Finally, I found parts of the book quite witty and thought I would offer some non-spoiler quotes: "This is Ahab, that's Jezebel," said Evie, who was one of those who name animals after the less successful characters in Old Testament history. Chairs, tables, pictures, books, that had rumbled down to them through the generations, must rumble forward again like a slide of rubbish to which she longed to give the final push, and send it toppling into the sea. (This is always how I feel when contemplating a move!) Another map hung opposite, on which the whole continent [Africa] appeared, looking like a whale marked out for blubber ... Bea
Topic: Howard's End (11 of 74), Read 66 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Monday, January 03, 2000 06:25 PM Patrick, I agree with you that Forster recognized that the world needs the sort of people represented by the Wilcoxes. He has Margaret, who is surely the voice of reason and insight, say the following to her sister: If Wilcoxes hadn't worked and died in England for thousands of years, you and I couldn't sit here without having our throats cut. There would be no trains, no ships to carry us literary people about in, no fields even. Just savagery. No--perhaps not even that. Without their spirit, life might never have moved out of protoplasm. More and more do I refuse to draw my income and sneer at those who guarantee it... Yes, the world needs their sort, but this doesn't mean Forster has to like them. Throughout most of the novel, it is very difficult to sympathize with Henry, and Bea's right about Charles--he's downright despicable. Of course, he isn't very bright and perhaps that excuses some of the appallingly insensitive things he says. Bea, I also think that Forster is quite nostalgic about the past. He hates the rushed automobile rides through the country. How fast do you think they were going--20 miles an hour? I wonder what he would make of the hustle and bustle of our day and age. He also laments our loss of a sense of place in an increasingly mobile society. Howards End is so important to Mrs. Wilcox because it connects her with her past and that of her entire family. We've lived in an apartment and three different homes in the last 21 years. Before that I lived in three different states and a foreign country. My husband's mother, on the other hand, is living in the house she was born in. There must be a kind of comfort in being that connected closely to your roots. Ann
Topic: Howard's End (12 of 74), Read 63 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ee Lin Kuan (e.l.kuan@ecs.soton.ac.uk) Date: Tuesday, January 04, 2000 11:31 AM Happy New Year, everyone. I am about halfway into the book, at the point when the Schlegels are searching for a new house. It started out well enough but seems to have stagnated in the middle. And I admit that there are hardly any characters that I care about in the story. The Schlegels seem uhm,... a little pretentious to me, philosophizing about life when it seems to me that you can afford to be philosophical only when you are well-fed and live in a warm home. The woman's club that the Schlegel sisters attend and debate about seemingly important issues just seem to be a whole lot of pretentious philosophizing without any concrete action. Ee Lin
Topic: Howard's End (13 of 74), Read 62 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, January 04, 2000 05:08 PM Well stated, Ee. Still behind in this novel, however. I just wanted to note that Forster writes a novel in the same vein as Nabokov and Joyce: You cannot simply remove it from its context without ruining everything. The authorial asides, commentary, the little "Well, reader, let's start here" are as important as what Character A did to Character B to involve Character C in Setting D. Too often, people read novels as if they were detailed screenplays. This isn't a screenplay--it's a novel. View it outside the context of being a "novel" and you lose so much. I saw the film for Howard's End and did not like it very much. But when the same basic plot is explored by Forster prose, there's just so much more meat to chew and savor. Dan
Topic: Howard's End (14 of 74), Read 58 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Tuesday, January 04, 2000 10:16 PM Ee Lin, Stick with it. Things pick up soon. Ann
Topic: Howard's End (15 of 74), Read 61 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Tonya Presley (tpresley@swbell.net) Date: Tuesday, January 04, 2000 10:48 PM I'm almost exactly half-way, and feeling not a bit like Ee Lin! Part of the ease and joy of this first reading is the wonderful memory of the Emma Thompson movie. These Miss Schlegels don't seem just exactly the same as portrayed by Emma and Helena, but Henry is the same, and Charles. I'm rushing through especially fast because I don't want to rent the video until I finish. I think this will be one of those win/win deals for me: the reading is better because of faint recollections of the film, which will be better on second viewing for having read the book. Tonya
Topic: Howard's End (16 of 74), Read 59 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 03:31 AM Tonya -- Not rereading this but eavesdropping on the commentary and enjoying it immensely -- like you I read the book after seeing the film. Rich as the film was -- I agree with you and Dan here -- and look forward BOTH to rereading this and to seeing the film again. Win-win, as you put it! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Howard's End (17 of 74), Read 57 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Katie Kleczka (knp@execpc.com) Date: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 06:18 AM I am so glad that I decided to re-read Howard's End with the group. This is also the first read for an online group where I am taking some notes and attempting to contribute something with "meat" to the discussion. I find online discussion so incredibly difficult for myself, personally, that the plethora of points and ideas raging around in my little brain I never seem able to translate through my fingertips. But this year it is my pledge to try to move beyond that. So here goes! I am only just about to begin Chapter X, so I thought I might make some remarks (albeit haphazard and unorganized :) ) from what I have underlined in the very first chapters. 1) I like that the novel begins with letters from Helen to Margaret. I thought it a very nice means of imparting setting and character descriptions in a rather interesting way. Directly, we learn something about Howard's End and the Wilcoxes, and indirectly (I suppose) we learn a great deal about Margaret and Helen herself. And it fits Helen to a tee. She is flighty and less grounded in the realities of life than Margaret, and so her rambling, nonsensical writing style is very much appropriate. And lastly about the letters and chapter I, we have a bit of a hook with the last line regarding Helen's new love interest. 2) In chapter II we meet Aunt Juley. I find her incredibly amusing and I am sure it is due to Forster's adept writing of her characters inner thoughts and rationalizations. Hilarious. For example: "Mrs. Munt had her own method of interpreting her nieces. She decided that Margaret was a little hysterical, and was trying to gain time by a torrent of talk. Feeling very diplomatic, she lamented the fate of Speyer, and declared that never, never should she be so misguided as to visit it..." or "Dear Margaret, do come into the library and shut the door. Your good maids are dusting the banisters." and in Chapter III (where Aunt Juley's contributions to fate are immeasurable during her car trip with Charles Wilcox), "'I must not interfere a third time', thought Mrs. Munt. However, of course she did.", and then she mistakes Charles for Paul, and rationalizes what Margaret REALLY asked her to do and confronts the wrong man about Helen's situation, and finally, in chapter IV, Mrs. Munt and Helen return where, "Mrs. Munt soon recovered. She possessed to a remarkable degree the power of distorting the past, and before many days were over she had forgotten the part played by her own imprudence in the catastrophe." She kills me. :) 3) Our author has a thing for trains and travel by rail. I do, too, and it was to so interesting to read about Margaret's thoughts on railway termini in Chapter II ("...the station of King's Cross had always suggested Infinity.") and Aunt Juley's trip to Howard's End in Chapter III ("It was only an hour's journey, but Mrs. Munt had to raise and lower the window again and again."). 4) Charles Wilcox is as distasteful as I remember him and it is no wonder that "... Charles and Aunt Juley drove up, calling each other names...". 5) Why is Tibby noted as an unimportant character? (" Little need be premised about Tibby. He was now an intelligent man of sixteen, but dyspeptic and difficile.") Is it to underscore the lack of "male" authority (even in light of his young age) in the Schlegel household? Accentuate the independent nature of Margaret and Helen? Or is he just some silly, irrelevant young man? Okay, that's it for now! Katie "Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading."
Topic: Howard's End (18 of 74), Read 59 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 08:28 AM Katie: Poor ol' Tib. "Dyspeptic" I know well, but "difficile" sent me to the OED. It says "opposite of facile"; "Hard to accommodate; troublesome; awkward." Forster must have known some of my ancestors. {G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Howard's End (19 of 74), Read 63 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Patrick Nolan (patrick.nolan@matthewsgroup.com) Date: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 09:23 AM Since Howards End is trying to be an allegory about England itself, I think we need Tibby to stand for Oxbridge and an increasingly irrelevant class of scholars remote from the world. As for whether Forster doesn't have to like where England is going, perhaps; I think the book gives reasons why the changes are inevitable though.
Topic: Howard's End (20 of 74), Read 65 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ee Lin Kuan (e.l.kuan@ecs.soton.ac.uk) Date: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 09:46 AM Ann, I did stick with it and ... have completely reversed my feelings about the book. It wasn't until almost towards the big showdown between Margaret and Henry that the events, and musings suddenly coalesced into something that made sense (to me, slow-witted as I am :-). Upon finishing, I thought it was a fabulous book and promptly started from the top again. It is on the re-read that some of the more cryptic passages seem to make sense and finally, something is beginning to click. Like Bea, I also liked Helen's description of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony though my approach to music is more like Aunt Juley's foot-tapping. All the goblins make sense now that I've read the entire story. Ee Lin
Topic: Howard's End (21 of 74), Read 61 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Katie Kleczka (knp@execpc.com) Date: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 05:54 PM Gosh, Dale, Forster must have known a fair number of mine. HEH! Katie "Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading."
Topic: Howard's End (22 of 74), Read 70 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 06:20 PM Katie: I'm reminded once again of a favorite quote--which, folks here tell me, is from Wodehouse: "No one has ever mistaken a ray of sunshine for a Scotsman with a grievance..." Guilty as charged. Or, as Curly of the Three Stooges would say, "I resemble that remark!" >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Howard's End (23 of 74), Read 58 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 12:41 AM I think you are right, Patrick. Tibby (so far) seems superfluous to the story, and Forster (who only wants us all to just connect) notes that although his sisters hoped Tibby would make friends at Oxford, he connected with no one, and left there with only aesthetic memories. Ties in with poor old Henry (??) trying to improve his mind by reading Ruskin, surely the supreme English aesthete. I'm only on page 100. I had though I had read this before, but it must have been another Forster (what is the one where the chubby guy takes a flying bellywhopper in the muddy swamp, Forster's idea of grabbing life with gusto? Where Angels Fear to Tread, maybe?) Theresa
Topic: Howard's End (24 of 74), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 09:30 AM I also liked the way the novel opened with the letters, but I love the author's opening sentence: One may as well begin with Helen's letters to her sister. How lackadaisical! Hey, if the novel is to start somewhere, as good here as anywhere else, Reader. I like the way he conveys a feeling of throwing the reader into the midst of big events, events so far-reaching that to get started we "may as well" start with the actual voice of one of the major players. Compare that to the opening of Chapter II: Margaret glanced at her sister's note and pushed it over the breakfast-table to her aunt. There was a moment's hush, and then the flood-gates opened." This takes the "voice" from Chapter I and places it in a "context:" a sister and aunt reading the voice and reacting to its content. Later, in Chapter VI, we start a chapter on "the boy, Leonard Bast:" We are not concerned with the very poor. They are unthinkable, and only to be approached by the statistician or the poet. This story deals with gentlefolk, or with those who are obliged to pretend that they are gentlefolk. The author is being very direct (and ironic) with the reader. How interesting the "poor" is the concern of the "statistician" (business oriented like the Wilcox family, say) and the "poet" (the sensibilities of the Schlegals, say). I love the narrative voice in this novel. Most of the events progress through character dialogue, but every now and then the narrative voice pokes up--as in the opening of Chapter VI--and shocks the reader. I love this style of writing--fabulous images, rich ideas, and this ironic voice which keeps rising to the surface to ZING characters, ideas, or events. Dan
Topic: Howards End (25 of 74), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 10:18 AM I have mixed feelings about Howards End. There were parts I really liked and parts that seemed to be superfluous. The part I liked the most was Margaret giving Henry that wonderful lecture on hypocrisy. I was struck by how many times we were told that Margaret "loved" Henry. Was that the author being ironic? What kind of love did Margaret have for Henry? My personal feeling is that she wasnít bowled over by him, but was flattered that a man of his stature in the community would be attracted to her, and so she returned the favor. She was getting to the point of "old maidenhood" in that society, and Iím sure she felt relieved. Do any of you think it was more than that? I felt confused by Bast. What was that night ramble all about? And why were the sisters so attracted by him? Was he like a kind of wounded pet that they were trying to force-feed? Did any of you think that the scene of his death was a bit strange? I couldnít quite make out what happened. How did people assume he had heart failure? That seemed like a stretch, since none were doctors. Charles never impressed me as a total villain, but as a rather dull person, of meager intelligence who reacted rather than thought things out. I donít think he was evil, just selfish. He did have a wife and children to worry about, and he had no means of making a living. Whose fault was that, do you think? Iíve got the video on order from the library, and will be interested in seeing this a second time. I hardly remembered any of it, and I think that I was thinking of another film entirely. Before I go, I want to ask you all what you think of this quote: "Pity was at the bottom of her actions all through this crisis. Pity, if one may generalize, is at the bottom of woman. When men like us, it is for our better qualities, and however tender their liking, we dare not be unworthy of it, or they will quietly let us go. But unworthiness stimulates woman. It brings out her deeper nature, for good or for evil." Think so? Sherry
Topic: Howards End (26 of 74), Read 52 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 10:37 AM Pity, eh? Maybe in that era? NOW???? I don't think so -- or at least that branch of 'womanhood' seems to be fading in my opinion. I seem to remember that the book left me with a few uneven spots on my mind but it's been a while. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Howards End (27 of 74), Read 55 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ee Lin Kuan (e.l.kuan@ecs.soton.ac.uk) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 11:03 AM Sherry, I seem to have the same questions as you about Bast. Why were the Schlegels so impressed with his night adventure? They kept brushing off his attempts to talk about literature perhaps because it felt painful to hear unsophisticated (to them) opinions? My vague feeling is that Bast actually did something on impulse, outside of his usual routine, exploring the so-called unknown - an adventure. This was in contrast to the Schlegels whose experience was mainly intellectual, and they admired Bast for stepping out of routine? Margaret was flattered, yes, but also perhaps she hoped to "improve" Charles, to help him "connect"? You also asked about the quotation regarding pity viz women, I don't know, The narrator himself agrees that it is a generalization. On the whole, perhaps, women may seem to be more sympathetic than men, but the gap in Forster's time certainly seems wider than it is now. Katie, your assessment of Aunt Juley made me laugh. She reminds me of Jane Austen's Mrs Bennett, only with more sense and more real affection for her relations. I hardly noticed Tibby except at the end when he slipped up and mentioned Bast's name to Charles. Finally, a question of my own - what exactly did the Schlegels mean by poetry? That their life had poetry? Did it mean affection, compassion, beauty? Ee Lin
Topic: Howards End (28 of 74), Read 56 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 01:45 PM Great comments and questions, everyone. I love reading books with you guys. **WARNING--- PLOT SPOILERS** I think that Tibby did serve a purpose in the book, if only as sounding board for Helen and Charles in moments of crisis. Tibby might have been untouched by their ramblings, but his presence provided Forster with an opportunity to advance the plot. Also, his meeting with Charles at the end was crucial because he inadvertently provided Charles with the identity of the villain he was searching for--Leonard Bast. To a certain extent. I felt that all three of the Bast siblings represented types. Tibby was unemotional and could care less about people. ( Just as some people cease to attend when books are mentioned, so Tibby's attention wandered when "personal realtions" came under discussion> p.254) Helen goes to Oxford to pour out her heart to Tibby, whose primary concern is getting on with his dinner. This inability to relate to people may have been, in part, the result of an overprotected and indulged childhood, but I also think that there are people who are just born like that. Helen, on the other hand is a bundle of emotions. Personal relations are everything to her. However, it becomes apparent that she uses people to satisfy her own emotional needs. Towards the end of the book, we are told that Helen forgot people. They were husks that had enclosed her emotion.(p.311). As for Leonard, she loved him absolutely, for perhaps half an hour. Wonderful line, isn't that? That gentle irony and insight into human foibles represents for me what is best in Forster. Margaret is the happy medium between the totally uninvolved Tibby and the overinvolved Helen. She feels deeply and cares about people, but her emotions are always tempered by her incisive intelligence and willingness to let people lead their own lives. Did Margaret love Henry? Oh, Sherry, that's a wonderful question. Surely it's a bad sign when you almost scream the first time your fiance kisses you. On the other hand, Margaret did recover quickly. Forster told us so many times that she loved him that I found myself going back over the texts looking for indications that he was indeed likable. I couldn't find that many. I think we should also remember that Helen was the pretty, sister, not Margaret. She is described as toothy and, at least for some people's tastes, too talkative. In many ways, it was quite a coup to have the wealthy and successful Henry Wilcox propose to her. Sherry, the line you quoted about women and pity made me cringe when I read it. I think Forster occasionally indulges in idealized stereotypes. The rural classe are also put on a pedestal. (They are England's hope. Clumisly they carry forward the torch of the sun, until such time as the nation sees fit to take it up.p. 323) Ee Lin, I think you defined the meaning of "poetry" in their lives perfectly. Ann
Topic: Howards End (29 of 74), Read 58 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 02:54 PM I'll have to go back and do some digging to quote chapter and verse. However, I noted a great symmetry between the fascination that overcame Helen with the Wilcoxes and Howard's End, Leonard Bast's fascination with the Schlegels and Margaret's fascination with Henry. It seemed sort of an hypnotic pull over great gulfs between classes and characters. Bea
Topic: Howards End (30 of 74), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Susan Pardue (ezrabird@aol.com) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 07:46 PM Wasn't it Schopenhauer who was so contemptuous of readers and claimed it was better to think your own thoughts than to have thoughts put into your head by a book? I had the impression that Helen and Margaret wanted to encourage Len Bast to value and express his own thoughts, his own experiences, rather than parrot something he'd read, but had no first-hand knowledge of. Frustrating to him, yes, since he was on fire to discuss literature, but the Schlegels did have his best interests at heart. What I cannot find answered in the book is why Henry Wilcox decided to marry Margaret. He has to know his children cannot abide her. He thinks her "clever as they make 'em" but he treats her in a condescending manner and has no interest in understanding her or in making himself understood by her (she does so in spite of himself). Was he trying to be perverse--keep his children worried that maybe, just maybe, she'd get her hands on Howard's End? Or was he attracted to her because Mrs. Wilcox had been so fond of her? Did he feel guilt on some inarticulate level because he had cheated on her and had lied to her on her deathbed? Why marry Margaret? Susan
Topic: Howards End (31 of 74), Read 50 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@juno.com) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 08:09 PM I have always looked at the English as proper and not given to verbal and explosive arguments. Strangely, this struck me as the most unusual part of the book i.e. the way they expressed themselves and their opinions and prejudices. It occurred to me that I would have avoided this sort of thing if I had been present. I would have opted to not enter into it, perhaps say nothing and keep my thoughts to myself. Yet these arguments did bring out some fundamental aspects of either the English character or contemporary thought. There is a good deal of talk about socialism, artiness, academic and merchant types. Yes, it does reflect on England in those days. Sometimes I wonder if the Schlegel girls were truly arty or just adopted this particular type. Henry seems to be a merchant and I was carried away the way Margaret took a deep look "inside of him" trying to penetrate his soul, yet was able to live with what she found. Bast to me is an unpleasant puzzle. Was he put into the book as an other English type? The desperate, but futile attempt to rise socially, intellectually but being defeated by insecurity of his social position. And his wife fits in well as another "lost" type. Well I could go on and bore you people to death. But I love the book and it serves its purpose by making us think and having a rare literary beauty as well. Ernie
Topic: Howards End (32 of 74), Read 53 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Katie Kleczka (knp@execpc.com) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 08:33 PM Ee Lin et al: Speaking of Jane Austen (Aunt Juley is very like Mrs. Bennet although a bit quieter, I think. HEH!), I was reminded while reading on the bus today of the likeness in personality and character of Margaret and Helen to the older and younger sisters in Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Katie "Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading."
Topic: Howards End (33 of 74), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 10:17 PM Susan, I think loneliness explains Henry's desire to marry Margaret. He loved the first Mrs. Wilcox, but quickly shoved his grief back into an unvisited corner of his mind. Margaret filled a void. Physically, she might not have been particularly attractive, but she was about 20 years younger, which was probably appealing. The father of a friend of mine insisted on marrying a much younger woman the second time around so that she wouldn't die on him like his first wife did. Of course, this didn't make his daughter feel very good. Now that you mention it, Katie, the sisters were very like the two in Sense and Sensibility. Ernie, remember the sisters were half German. Maybe that explains their readiness to express emotion. Ann
Topic: Howards End (34 of 74), Read 58 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Friday, January 07, 2000 01:06 AM Remember, Tibby's mother died giving birth to him. This is a child who never bonded! Which might explain his detachment from other humans/ His sisters might have filled the void a bit, but perhaps they felt some (unconscious) anger that he was the cause of their mother dying. Helen lost her mother at 8 - perhaps explains why she flits about getting people to love her, only to flit away again. And Margaret, although sympathetic and intelligent, lost her mother at 13 and remains a bit aloof from the fray. I'm only on Chapter 17, so can't say much more at this point. I was wrong earlier, though, it is Leonard who reads Ruskin, not Henry. I haven't met Henry as yet. Theresa
Topic: Howards End (35 of 74), Read 56 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Friday, January 07, 2000 06:50 AM I think one of the main reasons that Henry wanted to marry Margaret is that his daughter Evie got engaged. He was half expecting her to play the role of woman of the house and companion. Then she ends up falling in love with Dolly's uncle (keeping it all in the family). Sherry
Topic: Howards End (36 of 74), Read 60 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ee Lin Kuan (e.l.kuan@ecs.soton.ac.uk) Date: Friday, January 07, 2000 10:41 AM After reading the thoughts that all of you posted, I went back and re-read the book and understood it even more. (Or at least, I hope I did!) Thank you whoever nominated an voted for the book. I am very, very glad to have finished it. PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD! I agree with those of you who said that Tibby didn't care about people. He seemed to see art or literature as beautiful objects, not as connections to the humanity. When Margaret contrasts Helen's, Tibby's and her approach to Beethoven's symphony, she says that : "She (Helen) labels it with meanings from start to finish; turns it into literature. I wonder if the day will ever return when music will be treated as music. Yet I don't know. There's my brother -- behind us. He treats music as music, and oh, my goodness! He makes me angrier than anyone, simply furious." In Chapter 39, the narrator comments on Tibby : His was the leisure without sympathy -- an attitude as fatal as the strenuous: a little cold culture may be raised on it, but no art. But I think that finally, Tibby did gain a glimmer somewhat about the importance of human relations because at the end of Chapter 39 : Without intending it, he had betrayed his sister's confidence; he was not enough interested in human life to see where things will lead to. ... He was deeply vexed, not only for the harm he had done Helen, but for the flaw he had discovered in his own equipment. ... And Tibby found himself alone. Nothing more is said about him after that, maybe he did try to change a little? ******** Ann, I thought some more about the "poetry" and think that they also meant that it embodied the human soul, as opposed to material wealth. ********** Susan : > I had the impression that Helen and Margaret wanted to > encourage Len Bast to value and express his own thoughts, > his own experiences, rather than parrot something he'd > read, but had no first-hand knowledge of. Good point. Ee Lin
Topic: Howards End (37 of 74), Read 56 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Susan Pardue (ezrabird@aol.com) Date: Friday, January 07, 2000 12:59 PM Ee, I nominated Howard's End, so I'm very glad your opinion of the book changed. I think the book comes across as rather episodic on a first read, and I'm sure many people get tired of waiting for Howard to make an appearance when his ultimate departure is assured by the title and put Forster aside for someone with a more distinct plot. I'm happy Constant Readers perservere. Susan
Topic: Howards End (38 of 74), Read 60 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Patrick Nolan (patrick.nolan@matthewsgroup.com) Date: Friday, January 07, 2000 01:39 PM I haven't seen much discussion here of Mrs. Bast. Is it belivable that both Henry and Leonard could involve themselves with the same person?
Topic: Howards End (39 of 74), Read 60 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ee Lin Kuan (e.l.kuan@ecs.soton.ac.uk) Date: Friday, January 07, 2000 01:43 PM Susan, On the first read, I didn't understand what the Schlegels were going on about - the poetry comment especially, and also the Leonard Bast episode. There was also some foretelling which I couldn't figure out at all. Reading the book the second time was more rewarding as every time I came across something that was obscure before, the penny dropped the second time round. :-) Thank you for nominating it. I have already placed A Passage To India on the TBR list. Ee Lin
Topic: Howards End (40 of 74), Read 53 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, January 08, 2000 03:02 PM Just at the part where Leonard has it out with Margaret and Helen over their "picking his brain:" "You," said Margaret--"you--you--" Laughter from Evie, as at a repartee. "You are the man who tried to walk by the Pole Star." More laughter. "You saw the sunrise." Laughter. "You tried to get away from the fogs that are stifling us all--away past books and houses to the truth. You were looking for a real home." "I fail to see the connection," said Leonard, hot with stupid anger. "So do I." It seems that this is an important moment in the novel, where in the conflict of emotions between the sisters and Bast we run over some very thematically-important terrain: --the jeering of those who try to better themselves with "artistic notions" --the "fog" which surrounds these characters, be it the literary fog of the sisters or the practical fog of the Wilcoxes, and how there is a search for "the truth," for a real meaning. --the search for a place to call home (Lord knows, this novel is all about "leaving home" and moving around) --and the failure of many--either out of "anger" or "stupidity," to just connect Perhaps the "pole star," the "truth," and the "home" are emblematic of the same thing: a fixed foundation outside the flux of society, those guide signs and places which are eternal verities, the firm bedrock beneath the raging river of society. Each character searches for something eternal, something that will never move. Mrs. Wilcox's "Howard's End" with its trees and such comes closest, hence the title. perhaps Dan
Topic: Howards End (41 of 74), Read 43 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, January 08, 2000 04:20 PM Patrick, You asked if it was believable that both Henry and Leonard could involve themselves with the same woman. I find it plausible that they were both attracted to a woman like Jackie. She was once quite a looker and apparently very free with her charms. Henry was on the lookout for some cheap sex. Leonard was very young when she latched onto him and too naive to realize what he was getting into. By that time, Jackie was apparently desperate for respectability. While I can understand that they were both attracted to a Jackie type, it does stretch credibility a bit that they were involved with the exact same person, especially since Henry's interlude was overseas. But story tellers are entitled to use coincidence for dramatic purposes, don't you think? Dan, good observations. It's ironic that both the Schlegel sisters and Leonard himself wanted Leonard to be something he wasn't. I find Leonard's yearning for culture and respectability very poignant. In a society dominated by class distinctions, it must have been almost impossible to reinvent yourself. Ann
Topic: Howards End (42 of 74), Read 45 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Saturday, January 08, 2000 05:53 PM I found the Henry-Jackie connection the least believable part of the book, just one of those coincidences that requires a huge suspension of disbelief. But I think that Jackie's type would appeal to many different types of men -- if not on a daily basis. On the other hand, I did find it believable that Henry would be attracted to someone like Margaret -- he had apparently been very happy with Mrs. Wilcox and Margaret and Ruth were sisters in a way. Bea
Topic: Howards End (43 of 74), Read 47 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Saturday, January 08, 2000 08:02 PM I had assumed that the Schlegel's fascination with Leonard's night-long walk had to do with the discussion of nature vs. mechanized progress that was going on at the time. Forster himself constantly reflects on what was being lost in the name of progress. Also, if I keep coming back to that question that is purportedly being raised by Forster in this book, "Who will inherit England?" in that age of change and the beginning of the break-down of class structure, more of it falls into place. It makes sense then that Henry would be attracted by Margaret and she by him because they are representatives of different sections of English society knowing that both are necessary but that neither section can move England forward by themselves. Forster didn't make such a good case for the Leonard Basts making a contribution, but, as someone pointed out here previously, I don't think he understood much about Leonard except maybe a bit about his longings. Also, he did seem to understand how precarious Leonard's situation in life was. And, Katie and Dan, I loved your notes about the specifics of Forster's writing techniques. They made me revisit each chapter again mentally. I wish I could go back and reread it now, but I'm too involved in Fingerpost. Barb
Topic: Howards End (44 of 74), Read 39 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Sunday, January 09, 2000 07:36 AM Two nights ago I watched the movie. (I had seen it before, but it seemed almost completely new to me.) It was almost a perfect distillation of the book. But the screenwriter (Ruth Praver Jhabvala) added information in some cases. One instance was the Jackie/Henry connection. I don't think this was in the book, we were just told that they had met on Cyprus. (Let me know if I am wrong here). In the movie, Len explained to Helen that Jackie was there with her parents. Her father was killed and then a few months later her mother died. She was only 16 and had no one. Henry fell in love with her (shades of Lolita?) but then abandoned her when he was called home. I don't know if this makes Henry seem better or worse, but it does put Jackie in a better light. I like that the movie tried to explain this connection. It makes the "coincidence" seem less strained and more believable. Sherry
Topic: Howards End (45 of 74), Read 40 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, January 09, 2000 09:43 AM Sherry, ******Plot Spoilers************** I don't recall any explanation of the Jackie/Henry relationship in the book either, other than that they had met in Cyprus. My impression from the book was that she was never "respectable" and that there had been men in between Henry and Leonard, if not before Henry. Forster tells us so little about her that the reader can invent his own explanation. How did the rest of you view her? I remember liking the movie very much, Sherry. Ruth Praver Jhabvala's elaboration on the Henry/Jackie romance ties up an unsatisfying loose end and adds to the dramatic intensity of the plot. But it also presents Henry in a worse light. As a reader, it never bothered me that he had been involved with Jackie in the first place, only that he refused to draw the connection between his own fall from grace and Helen's. I imagine readers who read this book when it first came out viewed things differently. In this book, Helen admits that she seduced Leonard and then tried to buy him off with the $5000-- a neat twist on the traditional fallen woman plot, don't you think? Ann
Topic: Howards End (46 of 74), Read 40 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ee Lin Kuan (e.l.kuan@ecs.soton.ac.uk) Date: Sunday, January 09, 2000 12:41 PM Dan, I too enjoyed your observation that the characters, especially the Schlegel sisters were constantly searching for something eternal. Your observation also helped me understand Mrs Wilcox a little more. She seems to be such an enigmatic character. It was difficult to understand why Forster seemed to emphasize so much on Ruth Wilcox's strong attachment to Howards End. Ann, Whenever Leonard Bast was described, I felt pity for him. It seemed as if Forster seemed to say that no matter how hard Leonard tried to acquire some culture, he would never succeed. With regards to Henry's involvement with Jackie, during the quarrel between Margaret and Henry, Margaret cried : "A man who ruins a woman for his pleasure, and casts her off to ruin other men." Henry also committed a sin in Margaret's eyes because at the time he was involved with Jackie, he was already married. From the bits I remember about Jackie, she seemed like a very lost and desperate person, especially when she kept asking if Leonard would really marry her, as if someone had once promised to do so, and then had broken the promise. Ee Lin
Topic: Howards End (47 of 74), Read 37 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, January 09, 2000 07:15 PM Ee Lin, Good points about Jackey. I can see now that there is definitely the suggestion that Henry ruined her. For some reason, I had her pegged as a prostitute. That judgment was probably too harsh. Mrs. Wilcox is a sad character, isn't she? The quality that Henry appreciated most in her was that she was "steady." After she dies, he almost never mentions her, which even Margaret finds odd. Do you suppose a place like Howards End meant so much to her because her relations with people were unsatisfying? To move onto another subject, I thought the following idea was interesting: Death destroys a man, but the idea of death saves himÖ What do the rest of you think?
Topic: Howards End (48 of 74), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Katie Kleczka (knp@execpc.com) Date: Sunday, January 09, 2000 09:27 PM Ann wrote and asked for thoughts re: Death destroys a man, but the idea of death saves himÖ This resonated strongly with me! To become cognizant of the inevitability of one's own death can breathe such life into an individual. The knowledge of personal mortality can push one into living life to the fullest extent. For how can death destroy us if we continually cheat it of its power through the knowledge of its purpose. The only true destruction is the act of dying; but an awareness of death can inspire one to live an extraordinary life! Katie "Everything in moderation, EXCEPT for reading."
Topic: Howards End (49 of 74), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, January 10, 2000 10:10 AM Katie: Your note about our cognizance of mortality reminds me of a favorite line from Flannery O'Connor. A vagrant approaches a farmhouse and offers to do chores in exchange for a couple of meals and a place to sleep overnight. The lady of the house accepts, but tells him he'll have to sleep in the barn. "That's fine, ma'am," he tells her. "You know, the monks of old slept in their coffins." "Well," the lady sniffs, "they wasn't as advanced as we are." >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Howards End (50 of 74), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, January 10, 2000 10:36 AM Interesting quote, Ann. I was just reading some poems by Louis Simpson (not in the top 15, but that's another thread. . .) and came across a quote he attributes to Samuel Johnson: "Hanging increases concentration." When Simpson was young, everyone cheated on an exam when the teacher left the room. Somehow figuring out how the "master" would handle the situation, Simpson then studied the material, learning it all by heart. The next day, the teacher began giving 6 whacks to each boy who could not answer the material correctly. Simpson, on a bench and next in line, quotes Doctor Johnson: "Hanging increases concentration." Dale: I love that anecdote. That's classic. Dan
Topic: Howards End (51 of 74), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, January 10, 2000 10:47 AM Oh, I forgot to talk about Howard's End. Yes, Mrs. Wilcox used Howard's End as a stationary object within the flux of her life. She needed to know that Howard's End existed, that while she may be moved from dull apartment to dull house and so forth, Howard's End was there. I believe Forster was trying to articulate this search for something eternal in the transitory. I compare it to the image of that kernel in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, where the "truth," the solid bedrock of meaning, is within a nut and most people can never get through the surrounding aura to reach it. Also, there's Yeats's refrain in some poem about "the stone's in the midst of all," about a stone fixed in a river, an image of something eternal that can somehow withstand the "flow" of time. Be that as it may, Forster is doing a fantastic job of illustrating such a struggle within this novel. Where is your anchor during times of flux and change? The Schlegal sisters use art and truth, but find it doesn't quite work. Mr. Wilcox, perhaps, believes money is his anchor. Then there was the deceased Mrs. Wilcox, who saw it as a home with a tree. But Forster seems to indicate even that is illusory--look what becomes of Wickham Place. Despite the memories associated with it, it is razed to make room for some new apartments. Dan
Topic: Howards End (52 of 74), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, January 10, 2000 05:32 PM Daniel -- could you clarify the Yeats quote? Does the quote itself contain reference to a stone in a river? I know, I know -- this was about Howard's End. I am not rereading with the group but am eavesdropping and this Yeats thing has kidnapped my brain momentarily and I was wondering if it might relate to Hegi's title Stones From The River even though I realize the action of taking the stones from the river was in the novel -- just know also that there were lots of literary references within her book due to the setting of the bookstore/library of her central character's father. SO -- if you can put the quote up elsewhere or briefly here. Dottie -- wreaking havoc with apology ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Howards End (53 of 74), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ee Lin Kuan (e.l.kuan@ecs.soton.ac.uk) Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 09:00 AM Ann, I couldn't quite get a handle on Mrs Wilcox initially. She seemed so ... dreamy and it seemed as if the only thing she really cared about was Howards End, and then followed by her children. The only thing she seemed really passionate about was her home. Perhaps she married Mr Wilcox so that her home could be preserved? (Just a thought.) The quote Death destroys a man, but the idea of death saves him boggled me. Just couldn't get my head round it. But Katie, good insight and this idea makes a little more sense now. Certainly, the idea of death drives people to do all manner of things for posterity. This reminds me of Michael Moorcock's book Dancers At The End Of Time, where it is the end of time, and people don't die and aren't being born any more. There is no disease or suffering of any kind. As a consequence the inhabitants of that time have no moral standards or authority figures. They are bored out of their wits and constantly trying to find new things to amuse themselves with, which gets increasingly more and more difficult. Dan, I felt that for the Schlegel sisters, ultimately their anchor was the love that they felt for each other and the strong relationship which they had built over the years so that it could withstand just about anything. Ee Lin
Topic: Howards End (54 of 74), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 10:19 PM I'm curious as to what others think of the opening to Chapter XXI: Charles had just been scolding his Dolly. She deserved the scolding, and had bent before it, but her head, though bloody, was unsubdued, and her chirrupings began to mingle with his retreating thunder. "You've woken the baby. I knew you would..." The passage indicates that Charles is doing significantly more than "scolding his Dolly." Is Forster understating Charles' actions here in order to emphasize them? Or am I misreading the passage? Dan
Topic: Howards End (55 of 74), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 10:26 PM Ee Lin, Dancers At The End Of Time sounds like a very interesting book. It's almost as though you need the bad in order to appreciate the good, isn't it? Katie expressed the meaning behind the phrase Death destroys a man, but the idea of death saves him very well. I think that there is a psychological protection mechanism that operates in most of us which buries our sense of mortality very deeply in the subconscious. It comes to the surface from time to time, especially when someone close to us dies, and that can be very difficult to deal with. But on a day to day basis, we don't think about it. This has great advantages. When this psychological protection mechanism really breaks down, as it did with my mother in the latter part of her life, it can almost paralyze the person. However, Forster points out that we need to acknowledge our mortality from time to time so that we don't waste the time available to us. It is too easy to put off everything until a tomorrow which may never come. Ee Lin, at first I thought that Mrs. Wilcox, who had a hard time getting up in the morning, was severely depressed. Her illness did a lot to explain her rather passive behavior. I recall something about her husband promising to take her out of the rest home and then ignoring his promise. Did I get that right? I seem to remember that she wanted to go to Howards End one more time, but I couldn't find what I was looking for when I went back to the text. I think it is entirely plausible that she married Wilcox, in part at least, so that she could hang onto Howards End. He did keep it from going to ruin. Ann
Topic: Howards End (56 of 74), Read 34 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 12:00 AM Dan, I think you are reading too much into this passage. Dolly's head was metaphorically bloody, I do believe. He woke the kid by talking (or shouting) too much. Theresa
Topic: Howards End (57 of 74), Read 34 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ee Lin Kuan (e.l.kuan@ecs.soton.ac.uk) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 05:42 AM Ann, you summed up Dancers At The End Of Time perfectly. Also agreed that the acknowledgement of our mortality certainly motivates the events of our daily life. But the knowledge of our own mortality also causes us to rush about our lives in a frantic pace, trying to cram as much into as little a time as possible. I don't recall the promise that Mr Wilcox would bring Mrs Wilcox home to Howards End. But you pointed out that she didn't die at Howards End. Isn't that sad for her, when she once mentioned to Margaret, that it is terrible that people can't even be allowed to die in the homes they were born in? (Sorry, I'm paraphrasing here, since I don't have the book with me.) Dan, I'm with Theresa. :-) Ee Lin
Topic: Howards End (58 of 74), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 11:39 AM "Don't you know that all human ills and mean-spiritedness and cowardice arise not from death but from fear of death! Against this therefore fortify yourself. Direct all your discourses, readings, exercises thereto. And then you will find that by this alone are men made free." - Epictetus. PRES "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
Topic: Howards End (59 of 74), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 12:26 PM Pres & All: Speaking of our awareness of mortality, there's an excellent and thought-provoking book on just that subject--THE DENIAL OF DEATH, by the late sociologist Ernest Becker, which won the Pulitzer for nonfiction in whatever year it came out. In Becker's final book, ESCAPE FROM EVIL, he makes this observation: "When Tolstoy came to face death, what he really experienced was anxiety about the meaning of his life. As he lamented in Confession: What will come of my whole life.. Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy? "This is mankind's age-old dilemma in the face of death. It is the meaning of the thing that is of paramount importance; what man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance..." >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Howards End (60 of 74), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 05:47 PM Dale, You'd think that if anyone could feel secure about the meaning of his life it would be one of the greatest writers in European history. But then, towards the end of his life, Tolstoy rejected much of his earlier work because it was too elitist and not morally inspired. Maybe he felt that he had wasted much of his life. Tolstoy was such a huge intellect and had such a massive ego that I think it was hard for him to imagine the world continuing to exist without him. After all, it's hard for even the least of us mortals to envision that. And Ee Lin, I think you're right that too worrying about accomplishments can make a person down right miserable. Ann
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (61 of 74), Read 31 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 05:59 PM Chapter XIII, Margaret to Tibby I believe in the last century men have developed the desire for work, and they must not starve it. It's a new desire. It goes with a great deal that's bad, but in itself it's good, and I hope that for women, too, 'not to work' will soon become as shocking as 'not to be married' was a hundred years ago. This idea really interested me. For the wealthy classes, the idea that one must do meaningful work in order to be happy was a change. Trade, manual work or even a profession other than the military or clergy were all considered demeaning for those who had the choice of doing nothing. Because I work at a company with an excellent pension plan, I know many people who are retiring from full time work in their early fifties. Is there any chance this emphasis on "work" as a necessary part of one's identity will change?
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (62 of 74), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 08:11 PM ANN For a lot of us, our jobs have defined our reason for being on this planet. We get up and head for our jobs which will make the world a better place, and our work is acknowledged; by paycheck, status in the community, standard of dress to conform to the peer group. Even the amount of the world's resources we can waste, a sign of wealth. People who look to you for advice, acknowledging your worth by age. Everything is just hunky dorry, and then you retire. No more late calls at night. No more jetting across the continent. No more expense reports. No more youngsters hungry for your position. And then you retire. And it's all gone in one day. A huge void to be filled. And how lucky to be a reader. It ain't all bad. EDD retired in CA
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (63 of 74), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 08:13 PM ANN For a lot of us, our jobs have defined our reason for being on this planet. We get up and head for our jobs which will make the world a better place, and our work is acknowledged; by paycheck, status in the community, standard of dress to conform to the peer group. Even the amount of the world's resources we can waste, a sign of wealth. People who look to you for advice, acknowledging your worth by age. Everything is just hunky dorry, and then you retire. No more late calls at night. No more jetting across the continent. No more expense reports. No more youngsters hungry for your position. And then you retire. And it's all gone in one day. A huge void to be filled. And how lucky to be a reader. It ain't all bad. EDD retired in CA
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (64 of 74), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 10:33 PM Theresa and Ee: "Metaphorically bloody?" Could someone explain this to me and what exactly does a "metaphorically bloody" head signify? I view the theme of "having to work" eventually another example of characters trying to find ways to cope with the "modern flux" of society. If you don't have religion, and your family is in shambles--hey! What about work? Live to work, as opposed to work to live. And Dale's quote about dying insignificantly reminds me of Faulkner's choice expression: "Impotent fury." You can loathe death, but you've no strength to do anything about it. Dan
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (65 of 74), Read 36 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 11:54 PM Dan: Bloody but unbowed means she felt the sting of his words, but she hadn't totally caved, psychologically. Theresa
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (66 of 74), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Thursday, January 13, 2000 08:36 AM Ann: Good point. If Tolstoy, in old age, could feel insignificant, then the rest of us mortals don't have a chance. I'm also reminded of the poignant ending of SCHINDLER'S LIST, when Schindler, after saving so many lives at risk to his own, feels wretched for not having saved more. Dan: I think that "bloody but unbowed," except for being more poetic, is similar in intent to a whole host of modern-day violent metaphors used particularly in the competitive business world..."We ate their lunch"..."We killed 'em"..."We blew them out of the water"...etc. By the way...is the metaphor for angrily scolding somebody--"I jumped in his sh_t"--a Southern expression, or is it used elsewhere? I still remember the look of puzzlement on the face of a young Japanese co-worker when somebody in the group used this one. Taken literally, it conjures a strange mental picture, for sure. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (67 of 74), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Janet Mego (vsjego@cs.com) Date: Thursday, January 13, 2000 05:40 PM Dale, Sure sounds like a Southernism to me. I love it. I needed a good belly laugh. Thanks! Janet
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (68 of 74), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Thursday, January 13, 2000 08:21 PM Ann, I was struck by that necessity of work passage as well. Doesn't it seem strange to think of people debating whether to include "work" in their lives as an option instead of a necessity? I'm always a little startled by the characters who see people who have an occupation, even doctors, as beneath them in Jane Austen novels. The Venetian character in An Instance of the Fingerpost is lowering himself when he practices medicine. And, Dale, getting in someone's sh_t is a well-known expression in Michigan. Barb...using her new Christmas laptop in bed...what a wonderful luxury!
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (69 of 74), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Friday, January 14, 2000 02:50 AM DALE Doesn't the phrase, "bloody but unbowed" come from the poem INVICTUS? A poem by a young man who has lost his legs in an accident(to a brewery wagon, I think). I take it to mean that the human spirit cannot be conquered. EDD
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (70 of 74), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Friday, January 14, 2000 09:30 AM Edd: By golly, Invictus it is! I was vaguely thinking the line was from Shakespeare, and could even envision the word spelled "unbow'd." But here's the true source: INVICTUS By William Ernest Henley (1875) Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the full clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud, Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find me, unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. *** I now recall that this one used to be a perennial favorite for declamation competitions. Do students still declaim any more, I wonder, or is it all done digitally now? >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (71 of 74), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, January 14, 2000 05:56 PM Edd -- Thank you. Dale Thanks for posting it -- love this one -- great sounding piece. Declaiming? I don't know -- DO students do this? I know that students in elementary classes at the school where I worked do memorize and say poetry to the teachers and aides during a long unit of poetry (in third grade). I know the students in the GATE program classes (gifted and talented education) memorized things when my girls went through the program -- my older daughter memorized and said The Highwayman in 5th grade. Her teacher thought she was going to only do a part of it but -- she heard more of it than she expected! To be honest -- I was surprised that she memorized the whole thing. I think she can still say some of it. I know the whole class had to memorize and speak something. I am sure the classes in this program still do some things of this nature and at least at our school the regular classrooms were beginning to add similar expectations though not as many to their curriculum plans. Dottie -- who loves to say, read and hear such things -- The Raven -- though I know some will groan, The Bells -- more groans Invictus, The Highwayman, Annabel Lee which was touched on in the Lolita discussion a while ago, Hiawatha which I just hear in Dutch on a station here a week or so ago ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (72 of 74), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Sunday, January 16, 2000 10:35 AM Dottie: And as for great declaiming material, I'd add Robert Burns ("a man's a man for a' that..."), although I imagine it'd lose a lot without the accent. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Howards End -- the necessity of work (73 of 74), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Sunday, January 16, 2000 11:35 AM Aye -- but still I will agree with you! Dottie in a silly humor ID is an oxymoron!

 

 

 
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