Tuesday, 30 May 2000

Entry #52

Listening to:
Beethoven, Sonata No. 3 in A, Op. 69 for piano and cello. Sonatas 1 & 2 were those dedicated to the King of Prussia (see below). I'd just finished listening to those before starting the log.
Just read:
Howard's End by E. M. Forster. This is the best of the four novels by Forster that I've read so far. The previous best was Where angels fear to tread. It's probably not entirely untrue to say that I only rank Howard's End higher because it's longer. The extra length gives it time to develop the characters and make them a bit more believable. WAFT didn't really do a lot in the way of deep characterisation, but made up for it with wit and plotting.

In any case, Howard's End is good because its characters are well-drawn, particularly the central character of Margaret Schlegel, and because the plot is good, and because it ends with the redemption of someone we want to see redeemed, and for whom we believe redemption is possible and not too unlikely.

Forster's big failing in The longest journey, the insertion of authorial voice propagandising in the cause of anti-urban Romanticism, only mars Howard's End once, and briefly. It's chilling reading "cosmopolitanism" being condemned, when the USSR used the phrase "(rootless) cosmopolitans" as a euphemism for Jews. I'd like to think that Forster wasn't an anti-Semite (I don't know one way or the other), but it's still creepy to read him using language that was later adopted for this purpose.

To read next:
Madeleine's world by Brian Hall. Having got through another pair of Forster novels, I am now onto another "intermission" book. This is one I read the first chapter of in an issue of Granta before buying. It's the biography of a three year old written by the child's father. It (or at least the first chapter) is very endearing, and further proof that children are what it's all about.