Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"The Story of a Panic" by E. M. Forster

"The Story of a Panic" by E. M. Forster (1903, 15 pages)

E. M. Forster (1879 to 1970-UK) is best known for two of his novels, Howard's End and A Passage to India.   (By coincidence,  I just saw the movie version of A Passage to India last week on cable TV).   Forster inherited at an early age enough funds from his father to free him from the necessity to work and was enabled by this to become a writer.    He attended Cambridge and was  active in the Bloomsbury social circle.    He lived in India for a period of time.    He is a GLBT author.   He attended the funeral of Katherine Mansfield in Paris and was a friend of Elizabeth Bowen.  

Forster's work is not yet in the public domain so I have not been able to find any of his short stories online.   I was very happy when I saw his "The Story of a Panic" was included in a 1947 collection of short stories a family member recently gave me.    Short stories are, among other things, a good way to "try out" a writer to see if you might enjoy one of their longer works.   Based on my first reading of "The Story of a Panic" I would say I would for sure enjoy one of his novels.    The story is not at all in a modern mode in the way in which a story by Katherine Mansfield or Virginia Woolf might be considered.    "The Story of a Panic" is Forster's first  published short story.  

"The Story of a Panic" by E. M. Forster is set among a group of British travelers on holiday in Italy.    (Italians may not like how they are characterized in this story.)    The travelers see the Italian country side as exotic and it brings back to them a sense of the old Roman Gods and mythological figures.    Everything is going smoothly until a "wild boy" bursts  on the scene and causes a panic among the travelers.   Is he a daemonic force or is simply a rude ill mannered country lad?     "The Story of a Panic" inspired by an trip Forster made to the Italian country.    Even without knowing anything about Forster's background as a GLBT author it is hard not to sense in this story that part of the panic created by the wild boy who some of the travelers say is Pan  is really a fear that one is sexually attracted to someone  who conventional society says one should not be.   This appears to be very much a story about awaking sexual self awareness.

"The Story of a Panic" by E. M. Forster is a traditionally told story.   I enjoyed everything about it.      I would happily read more of his stories and hope to read  A Passage to India soon.  


Mel u

11 comments:

Deborah Lawrenson said...

I must read this! If you're interested in Forster, he features in a brilliant book about Alexandria, where he lived for some years. It's called Alexandria: City of Memory by Michael Haag. Fantastic photos and research really bring him to life, alongside Lawrence Durrell and the poet Cavafy.

mel u said...

I read some of Durrell's work years ago and I really enjoyed it. The book you mentione sounds fascinating and I will look for it-thanks very much for the suggestion

Mystica said...

I am in the middle of a Room with a View - my first Forster and I am liking it very much.

mel u said...

Mystica-I look forward to your post on A Room with a View-

inknchai said...

I'm just not enamoured with Mr Forster. Having said that, I've only read Room with a View, so not fair to write him off.

I'm going to try Passage to India, and from your mention I'll try his short stories.

Monica

Journey said...

Great post. I love Foster! :D And now I really want to read this and others of his short stories, I do think I have some around here...

Trilithon Stone said...

Hey, mel. I have been searching for this story that I once read many decades ago in a Book-of-the-Month Club book of short stories that I inherited with my mother's things when she passed. But the book passed out of my hands shortly thereafter and I have been searching for both it and this story, of which I only remembered the bare framework of the action. Thank you for solving this part of my quest... the story title and author... that it be Forster makes total sense.
I know this is an older post and may not be read or answered... but, perhaps the book of short stories that you read this in is the same book I seek? Can you tell me the title of the book; does it have a story about madness and a murder in which the body is stuffed into a cupboard in an apartment filled with dead flowers? I think that this book was also where I first encountered Balzac's "A Passion in the Desert". Thank you for any reply...

Trilithon Stone said...

I believe I've answered my own question with a little internet sleuthing aided by your inclusion of the 1947 date: Treasury of Short Stories Containing favorites of the past 100 years from Turenev to Thurber, from Balzac to Hemmingway Hardcover – 1947
by Bernardine Kielty.
This really is quite the compendium of classics. Thank you.

Mel u said...

Triliyhon. All I t call on the book now was that it was red. My favorite Forster story is "The Celestial Omnibus". Thanks for your comment. Pls look around at some of the other 3000 posts. Do you have a webpage or blog?

Mel u said...

Trithithon. Yes that,is for sure the book. I read my first works by Eudora Welty and Katherine Anne Porter there.

Trilithon Stone said...

No blog or any such... not so much to say, I suppose. That 'Treasury of Short Stories' is quite the compendium, though. To me it was something of an education in my 20s... Turgenev, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Balzac, Kipling, Conrad, Poe, Crane, James, Huxley, Faulkner... just to pick a smattering from the 60 odd short stories in it. When it went missing it was a keen loss and then later I could never recall the title. So I thank you for giving me the clues... I've found copies on Amazon for as little as a penny. And one of the driving desires was to find this Forster story again...with all the Pan mystery to it. Marvelous.