The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
Random header image... Refresh for more!

A Great Unrecorded History (3)

After publishing A Passage to India in 1924, E.M. Forster effectively stopped being an important writer. As his sexuality grew and his love life blossomed, his fiction (unpublished at the time) focused exclusively on gay themes. Connected, he could not connect with the rest of us. Sublimation and subterfuge were no longer necessary and, as a result, his fiction suffered.

Much the same, it turns out, is true of A Great Unrecorded History. We learn intimate details about Forster the homosexual and less and less about one of England’s greatest novelists. Pity. Not so much that it is an uninteresting tale, but that Forster was unable to be both gay and a great writer.

At least, now we know what happened.

August 8, 2010   Comments Off on A Great Unrecorded History (3)

A Great Unrecorded History (2)

To comment on how things really are is often perceived as dissent and generally results in some form of ostracism. Those who wield power, especially in social situations, don’t like to be reminded of the fact that they are not wearing clothes. As a gay youth, Forster (or should I call him Morgan?) learned this better than anyone and became naturally taciturn to the point of embarrassing others with his infinitude. Only later did he discover a way around this. He could say anything he wanted (except talk about his homosexuality) in the world of fiction. There, and only there, he was free to expose the foibles of the English to his heart’s content. Morgan, therefore, lived two distinctly separate lives—as a cloistered, closeted gay man and as a renowned literary genius—which is what makes E.M. Forster and A Great Unrecorded History so fascinating.

July 28, 2010   Comments Off on A Great Unrecorded History (2)

A Great Unrecorded History (1)

I am reading Wendy Moffat’s literary biography of E.M. Forster (A Great Unrecorded History) on a Kindle for my pc and am enjoying it—not so much for what it reveals about Forster (we all knew he was gay, right?) but by the author’s probing intelligence and terse, sage, and often witty comments. Consider this statement about early influences on the young, fatherless Forster (whom she calls Morgan throughout the biography): “There was the bilingualism of women, their private talk and their careful, vicious, oblique wielding of social power. And there was dream knowledge, a magical, incantatory way to discover what is already known to be true.” All I can say is Wow. I have no idea whether this is true or not. I doubt the author knows herself. But it feels true. More than that, it makes you think.

After reading this and a few other epigrammatic statements, I was intrigued. Moffat had me. It was like reading Richard Ellman for the first time in college. Understanding a famous author better than you thought possible. A transcendental experience.

The way Moffat inserts Forster into the cultural life of Great Britain is also interesting. Of course, Forster had a lover and his friends were gay, but what surprised me was the extent to which modern English literature was written by gay men: Tennyson, Cory, Hopkins, Lefroy, Crowley, Symonds, Carpenter, “Teleny,” Bloxam, Ellis, Oscar Wilde, of course, Housman, Forster, Owen, Lawrence, Ackerley, Isherwood, Spender, Chubb, Auden, and Maugham. Quite a list of famous names. But Moffat doesn’t stop there. She implies that homoeroticism is as English as tea, the BBC, or the Kinks, and that it grows as naturally in English soil as bluebells or stuttering.

By the way, the Kindle for the pc is simple and easy to use, and is a better use of the computer than surfing, chatting, watching movies, or reading news. I’m not tempted to buy the new, portable Kindle from Amazon, however, because of the price. $375? You have to be kidding! I can tell you one thing, though. It’s the end of the bookshop as we know it.

More to come…

July 28, 2010   Comments Off on A Great Unrecorded History (1)