Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (1905, 124 pages)

At His BBC Job
E. M. Forster's First Novel

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread"   Alexander Pope 1711

I have wanted to read a novel by E. M. Forster (Edward Morgan-1879 - 1970-UK) for a long time now.    I checked on one of my favorite online reading sources,   They did not have the work I actually most wanted to read, A Passage to India but they did have a few others (he wrote six novels) available.   I decided to keep it simple and I subscribed to the shortest one (64 installments-installments are normally about 2.5 or so pages long)  Where Angels Fear to Tread.   This is also his first novel so that was another reason in my mind to select it.   

In February I read and very much enjoyed Forster's short story "The Story of a Panic.

I knew that Forster was associated with the Bloomsbury group loosely.   He inherited enough money at an early age to support himself.    He attended Cambridge.

I enjoyed Where Angels Fear to Tread a lot.   The plot is not hard to follow at all.   The characters are drawn from the English upper classes.   It is a gentle satire centered on the Herriton family.   The family is concerned about Lilia Herriton, staying in Italy for a year to calm her nerves, when they hear she has fallen in love with an Italian man, and just an ordinary one at that.   Lilia had been married to one of the sons of the family.   The family is very upset to hear this and they send her brother in law to Italy to break up the relationship.   He arrives to late she has already married that man.   I do not wish to tell more of the plot action but there are some exciting and surprising developments.    The ending is quite tragic.  

For me the fun in this novel was in the characterizations of the Herriton's, the comments on the beauty of the Italian countryside and the wonderfully done conversations.    I also got a good feel for what Italy meant to the English.   There is considerable xenophobia in the actions of the Herritons.

Over all, I would say this is a good book, well written with a lot of wonderful lines.   I will, I hope go on to read his other novels and some of his short stories.   

Please share your experience with Forster with us.

Mel u


Fred said...

Mel u,

I haven't read this novel, but I have read _A Passage to India_ and _Howards End_. I thought _Howards End_ to be a decent read.

However, _A Passage to India_ is an extraordinary novel. It's hard to believe he wrote both novels.

Farheen said...

I read both novels last year. Where Angels Fear to Tread is a novel filled with surprises. It shows the snobbish side of the English people and the portrayal of rural Italy is done superbly.
A Passage to India is, I believe, one of his best works. Maurice comes a close second and you must read both. The intricacies of the relationship between the English, Muslims and Hindus during the British Raj are splendidly woven into the story. I managed to get the movie, made by David Lean, and am now searching for the BBC Series.

Thomas Hogglestock said...

You started in the right place with Foster. Angels is his first novel and it hints at what is to come. I remember reading this one warm, sunny, spring day while I was in college. And it transported me. At that time I had never been to Italy (never even been on a plane)but Angels really transported me there.

If you want something similar but meatier you out to try for A Room With a View (or at least watch the spectacular 1986 Merchant Ivory film--don't bother with the more recent version which is awful).

Howard's End and Passage to India are probably his two finest.

Maurice is an amazing gay love story that wasn't published until after Forster died.

In case you can't tell, I think Forster is brilliant. And to me the overriding theme of all of his books is overcoming convention in the pursuit of truer feelings. With particular attention to the English class system.

Unknown said...

When I was in my late teens, two of my most-loved books were Where Angels Fear to Tread and A Room with a View. The tragic female characters, love as a motivator, all of this really stuck with me. I recently re-read Howards End, which has one of the most memorable commands in literature - "Only connect!"

Sayeth said...

I just finished listening to "A Room with A View". I'll have a review up this week at Free Listens.

Anonymous said...

This is more as an aside. I just wanted to thank you for mentioning DailyLit, I didn't know that service. I'm using it now to go back to Proust in French, and I use a lot Google Reader, it's just perfect. Thanks. Emma @ Words And Peace

Anonymous said...

This is more as an aside. I just wanted to thank you for mentioning DailyLit, I didn't know that service. I'm using it now to go back to Proust in French, and I use a lot Google Reader, it's just perfect. Thanks. Emma @ Words And Peace

JoAnn said...

I LOVE Forster's novels! Howards End is by far my favorite, followed by A Room With A View. I'll also echo Thomas's recommendation for the Merchant Ivory films. A Passage to India didn't do much for me though. Where Angels Fear to Tread is in the tbr pile, but I'll move it closer to the top now...

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I adore Forster's books. This one isn't my favorite (that would be Howards End), but I tend to enjoy all of his work.

Mel u said...

Fred-I just complete Passage to India and I agree totally with your comments-I totally loved it-I liked Where Angels Fear to Tread but I see Passage as on a whole other level

Farheen-thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on Forster

Thomas-thanks so much for the suggestions-my guess is I will for sure read the other four of his novels, maybe this year-for sure at least 2 more

Jenny-thanks very much for your comments-I agree Forster totally brilliant

Melisa-thanks very much your comment and visit

JoAnn-I am leaning toward Howard's End as my next Forster

wordsandpeace-glad you now know about it a great resource