Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction 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


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.


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...