E. M. Forster
The happiest people are those who think the most interesting thoughts. Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good company, good conversation, are the happiest people in the world. And they are not only happy in themselves, they are the cause of happiness in others.William Lyon Phelps
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See also : Maurice
- There's enough sorrow in the world, isn't there, without trying to invent it.
- A Room with a View (1908) Ch. 2
- The kingdom of music is not the kingdom of this world; it will accept those whom breeding and intellect and culture have alike rejected. The commonplace person begins to play, and shoots into the empyrean without effort, whilst we look up, marvelling how he has escaped us, and thinking how we could worship him and love him, would he but transalate his visions into human words, and his experiences into human actions.
- A Room with a View (1908) Ch. 3
- Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.
- A Room with a View (1908)
- I am the means and not the end. I am the food and not the life. Stand by yourself, as that boy has stood. I cannot save you. For poetry is a spirit; and they that would worship it must worship in spirit and in truth.
- "The Celestial Omnibus" (1911)
Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905)
- Romance only dies with life. No pair of pincers will ever pull it out of us. But there is a spurious sentiment which cannot resist the unexpected and the incongruous and the grotesque. A touch will loosen it, and the sooner it goes from us the better.
- Ch. 2
- A wonderful physical tie binds the parents to the children; and — by some sad, strange irony — it does not bind us children to our parents. For if it did, if we could answer their love not with gratitude but with equal love, life would lose much of its pathos and much of its squalor, and we might be wonderfully happy.
- Ch. 7
- I never expect anything to happen now, and so I am never disappointed. You would be surprised to know what my great events are. Going to the theatre yesterday, talking to you now — I don't suppose I shall ever meet anything greater. I seem fated to pass through the world without colliding with it or moving it — and I'm sure I can't tell you whether the fate's good or evil. I don't die — I don't fall in love. And if other people die or fall in love they always do it when I'm just not there. You are quite right; life to me is just a spectacle, which — thank God, and thank Italy, and thank you — is now more beautiful and heartening than it has ever been before.
- Ch. 8
- This woman was a goddess to the end. For her no love could be degrading: she stood outside all degradation. This episode, which she thought so sordid, and which was so tragic for him, remained supremely beautiful. To such a height was he lifted, that without regret he could now have told her that he was her worshipper too. But what was the use of telling her? For all the wonderful things had happened.
"Thank you," was all that he permitted himself. "Thank you for everything." ~ Ch. 10
Howards End (1910)
- There's nothing like a debate to teach one quickness. I often wish I had gone in for them when I was a youngster. It would have helped me no end.
- Ch. 15
- She might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the grey, sober against the fire. Happy the man who sees from either aspect the glory of these outspread wings. The roads of his soul lie clear, and he and his friends shall find easy-going.
- Ch. 22
- Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.
- Ch. 22
- In these English farms, if anywhere, one might see life steadily and see it whole, group in one vision its transitoriness and its eternal youth, connect — connect without bitterness until all men are brothers.
- Ch. 33
A Passage to India (1924)
- Most of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it, and the books and talks that would describe it as interesting are obliged to exaggerate, in the hope of justifying their own existence. Inside its cocoon of work or social obligation, the human spirit slumbers for the most part, registering the distinction between pleasure and pain, but not nearly as alert as we pretend. There are periods in the most thrilling day during which nothing happens, and though we continue to exclaim, “I do enjoy myself,, or , “I am horrified,” we are insincere.
- Ch. 14
- Pathos, piety, courage, — they exist, but are identical, and so is filth. Everything exists, nothing has value.
- All invitations must proceed from heaven perhaps; perhaps it is futile for men to initiate their own unity, they do but widen the gulfs between them by the attempt.
Aspects of the Novel (1927)
- As long as learning is connected with earning, as long as certain jobs can only be reached through exams, so long must we take the examination system seriously. If another ladder to employment was contrived, much so-called education would disappear, and no one be a penny the stupider.
- Chapter One: Introductory
- A mirror does not develop because an historical pageant passes in front of it. It only develops when it gets a fresh coat of quicksilver — in other words, when it acquires new sensitiveness; and the novel's success lies in its own sensitiveness, not in the success of its subject matter.
- Chapter One: Introductory
- If God could tell the story of the Universe, the Universe would become fictitious.
- Chapter Three: People
- A man does not talk to himself quite truly — not even to himself: the happiness or misery that he secretly feels proceeds from causes that he cannot quite explain, because as soon as he raises them to the level of the explicable they lose their native quality. The novelist has a real pull here. He can show the subconscious short-circuiting straight into action (the dramatist can do this too); he can also show it in its relation to soliloquy. He commands all the secret life, and he must not be robbed of this privilege. "How did the writer know that?" it is sometimes said. "What's his standpoint? He is not being consistent, he's shifting his point of view from the limited to the omniscient, and now he's edging back again." Questions like this have too much the atmosphere of the law courts about them.
- Chapter Five: The Plot
- How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?
- Chapter Five: The Plot
- Most of us will be eclectics to this side or that according to our temperament. The human mind is not a dignified organ, and I do not see how we can exercise it sincerely except through eclecticism. And the only advice I would offer my fellow eclectics is: "Do not be proud of your inconsistency. It is a pity, it is a pity that we should be equipped like this. It is a pity that Man cannot be at the same time impressive and truthful."
- Chapter Seven: Prophecy
- If human nature does alter it will be because individuals manage to look at themselves in a new way. Here and there people — a very few people, but a few novelists are among them — are trying to do this. Every institution and vested interest is against such a search: organized religion, the state, the family in its economic aspect, have nothing to gain, and it is only when outward prohibitions weaken that it can proceed: history conditions it to that extent.
- Chapter Nine: Conclusion
Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
- [Tolerance] is just a makeshift, suitable for an overcrowded and overheated planet. It carries on when love gives out, and love generally gives out as soon as we move away from our home and our friends.
- Love is a great force in private life; it is indeed the greatest of all things; but love in public affairs does not work.
- Hardship is vanishing, but so is style, and the two are more closely connected than the present generation supposes.
- A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself.
- "Anonymity: An Enquiry"
- What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote, and brings to birth in us also the creative impulse.
- "Anonymity: An Enquiry"
- Think before you speak is criticism's motto; speak before you think is creation's.
- "The Raison d'Etre of Criticism in the Arts"
- We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.
- "The Tercentenary of the 'Areopagitica'"
- To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.
- "A Book That Influenced Me"
- The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.
- "A Book That Influenced Me"
- A humanist has four leading characteristics — curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.
- "George and Gide"
- I believe in aristocracy... — if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power... but... of the sensitive, the considerate... Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages... there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as themselves... considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure.
What I Believe
- Two Cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism. Two cheers are quite enough: there is no occasion to give three.
- I do not believe in Belief. But this is an Age of Faith, and there are so many militant creeds that, in self defence, one has to formulate a creed of one's own. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy are no longer enough in a world where ignorance rules, and Science, which ought to have ruled, plays the pimp. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy — they are what matter really, and if the human race is not to collapse they must come to the front before long.
- There lies at the back of every creed something terrible and hard for which the worshipper may one day be required to suffer.
- An efficiency-regime cannot be run without a few heroes stuck about it to carry off the dullness — much as plums have to be put into bad pudding to make it palatable.
- I distrust Great Men. They produce a desert of uniformity around them and often a pool of blood too, and I always feel a little man's pleasure when they come a cropper.
- Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch, which ought to be applied as sparingly as possible.
- Naked I came into this world, naked I shall go out of it. And a very good thing too, for it reminds me that I am naked under my shirt, whatever its colour.
- The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society was eternal.
- If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the decency to betray my country.
- One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.
Quotes about E.M. Forster
- His light blue eyes behind his spectacles were like those of a baby who remembers his previous incarnation and is more amused than dismayed to find himself reborn in new surroundings. He had a baby's vulnerability, which is also the invulnerability of a creature whom one dare not harm.
- I would rather be a coward than brave, because people hurt you when you are brave.
- Nonsense and beauty have close connections.
- Unless we remember we cannot understand.
- People have their own deaths as well as their own lives, and even if there is nothing beyond death, we shall differ in our nothingness.
- Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.
- Brief biography at Kirjasto (Pegasos)
- Brief biography at the British Humanist Association (BHA)
- Pharos: E. M. Forster
- Only Connect : The unofficial Forster site
- Aspects of E.M. Forster
- The Online Books Page (University of Pennsylvania)
- Works by E. M. Forster at Project Gutenberg
- Howards End Page at Kingwood College Library