Italy is the Tropics?
The Reading Life E. M. Forster Project
There is something baffling and evasive in the very nature of his gifts."-Virginia Woolf
A Room With a View is E. M. Forster's (1879-1970-Edward Morgan-UK) third novel. (There is some background information on him in my prior posts.) Forster's enduring fame comes from his Howards End and A Passage to India. I have decided to read and post on all his novels (there are only six). I will just post briefly on A Room With a View as I think there is less interest in this novel than in his "big two".
I think it was common in the first two decades of the 20th century for upper class English men and women to look upon Italy as somehow an exotic more earthy kind of place than their homeland. The people are presented as less reserved and it is also seen as a place where one could do what you would not back home. Sometimes in Forster you almost expect Pan to jump out from behind an olive tree in the beautiful Tuscan hills. Italy is also a place where one could go for a total immersion in high artistic culture, robust foods, and a flirtation with the promiscuous natives. It is almost like Italy is an exotic tropical country (or as close as the people in Forster's novels will get to one) superimposed on an ancient civilization.
The first half of A Room With a View is set in Italy. As the novel opens Lucy Huneychurch and her sister are complaining because their room in the hotel they are staying at does not have the beautiful view they were lead to believe it would have. George Emerson and his father, also English, offer to let the sisters have their room which has a great view. The sisters are perplexed by this. First off all it is not polite to intrude into the conversations of strangers and secondly they are not convinced the Emerson's are gentlemen and they do not understand their motives. A lot of the novel is spent with characters analysing each other. Lucy and the younger Mr. Emerson end up falling in love but the older dominating sister will have none of it and even Lucy is not sure it is right. Maybe it is just the power of Italy, just a vacation romance.
Part Two finds Lucy back in her hometown in England, Surrey. There is more of the wonderful conversations and brilliant observations I have come to expect in Forster. Mr Emerson enters the picture again. Lucy has some more romantic adventures. I liked the ending a lot.
I read this via Dailylit.com .
I will probably next read his The Longest Journey.
Please share your experience with Forster with us.