I just found an article by Zadie Smith on E.M. Forster. It was pointed out in the community [profile] british_fiction I copied it and intended to read it later, but the first paragraph caught my eye. I haven't read on, because I don't have the time right now, but I like what she says in this first two  paragraphs, and the way she says it.

"In the taxonomy of English writing, E.M. Forster is not an exotic creature. We file him under Notable English Novelist, common or garden variety. Still, there is a sense in which Forster was something of a rare bird. He was free of many vices commonly found in novelists of his generation—what's unusual about Forster is what he didn't do. He didn't lean rightward with the years, or allow nostalgia to morph into misanthropy; he never knelt for the Pope or the Queen, nor did he flirt (ideologically speaking) with Hitler, Stalin, or Mao; he never believed the novel was dead or the hills alive, continued to read contemporary fiction after the age of fifty, harbored no special hatred for the generation below or above him, did not come to feel that England had gone to hell in a hand-basket, that its language was doomed, that lunatics were running the asylum, or foreigners swamping the cities.

Still, like all notable English novelists, he was a tricky bugger. He made a faith of personal sincerity and a career of disingenuousness. He was an Edwardian among Modernists, and yet—in matters of pacifism, class, education, and race—a progressive among conservatives. Suburban and parochial, his vistas stretched far into the East. A passionate defender of "Love, the beloved republic," he nevertheless persisted in keeping his own loves secret, long after the laws that had prohibited honesty were gone. Between the bold and the tame, the brave and the cowardly, the engaged and the complacent, Forster walked the middling line."

Source: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21692

 


All in all, I like this way more than what I read in THIS article, written in 1974 by Andrew Hodges and David Hutter, which I find rather ridiculous in thinking that Forster could have actually brought on homosexual law reform by outing himself, and  agressively attacks him.

A quote out of it:

"
Perhaps Forster's most famous remark was that if he were forced to choose between betraying his country and betraying his friends, he hoped he would have the courage to betray his country. Since the choice was unlikely ever to be presented, this was an easy, if startling, claim to make. The real choice for Forster lay between damaging his reputation and betraying his fellow homosexuals. Alas, it was his reputation that he guarded and gay people whom he betrayed."

And another, right at the end of the article:


"
E. M. Forster is a classic example of the person who is widely known within the sophisticated gay community as a homosexual, and whose name is added with pride to the list of famous names that gay people so eagerly make. Since all such lists are apologetic they are all self-oppressive, but in this case there is particular irony. Throughout his life Forster betrayed other gay people by posing as a heterosexual and thus identifying with our oppressors. The novel which could have helped us find courage and self-esteem he only allowed to be published after his death, thus confirming belief in the secret and disgraceful nature of homosexuality. What other minority is so sunk in shame and self-oppression as to be proud of a traitor?"

So much today, on E.M. Forster.

From: [identity profile] eumelkeks.livejournal.com


Thank you for posting these snippets.

What riles me about the last one is that nobody should be obliged to put his life into the service of a cause. Forster wrote a novel about homosexuality but he also wrote about not fitting in, about struggling with one's identity and fighting against conformity - thereby creating something that spoke to many people. Was he obliged to live in a tree to fight convention? No, of course not. He was an author not a revolutionist.
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From: [identity profile] gorse-wine.livejournal.com


I do think that the latter piece does have a point, but it comes across as very antagonistic and bitter. However, what these people seem to have forgotten is that Forster was a product of his own generation as much as any of us are. For much of his life being homosexual could earn you a prison sentence and a ruined reputation. Who wants to go to prison?! Who wants to risk their livelihoods for a cause?

The vast majority of us would have done exactly the same as Forster, it is the very few who put themselves on the line. These days it's somewhat more difficult to support many of those who choose to remain closeted because being gay is not the abomination it once was, and neither is it illegal.

Forster was acting very much in character by keeping his orientation to himself. Yes, it's a pity he did not try to publish Maurice, but he was what he was. No one is perfect.

I read the review of his radio programmes. Very nice, the writer seems to have got a good hold on Forster as a person. I loved the part where she says that Maurice would have understood literary references in poetry, whereas Alec would have missed those but felt the spirit of the poem, and I'm pleased she seems to understand these two men as well.
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From: [identity profile] gorse-wine.livejournal.com


Oh, and what is wrong with lists of gay people? Goodness, these men seem to have such huge chips on their shoulders! Of course we need lists, we need to raise awareness of non-heterosexuality in order for the ordinary person to see it as the ordinary and normal fact of life it is.

These writers remind me of a man I once knew. When Civil Partnerships came in a few years ago he was against them because part of his being gay was being part of a particular scene, and this scene did not include such mundane things as two men getting married and just living as ordinary folk want to live. "Why would gay men want to marry?" he asked. He'd probably get on well with these two!
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