effect in the context. Instead of 
flowering naturally—as in Proust, for
instance—from an overflow of inter-
est and beauty in the object itself, we 
feel that they have been called into 
existence by some irritation, are the 
effort of a mind outraged by ugliness 
to supplement it with a beauty which, 
because it originates in protest, has 
something a little febrile about it.

Yet in Howards End there are, one 
feels, in solution all the qualities that 
are needed to make a masterpiece. The 
characters are extremely real to us. 
The ordering of the story is masterly. 
That indefinable but highly important
thing, the atmosphere of the book, is 
alight with intelligence; not a speck 
of humbug, not an atom of falsity is 
allowed to settle. And again, but on 
a larger battlefield, the struggle goes 
forward which takes place in all Mr. 
Forster's novels—the struggle be-
tween the things that matter and the
things that do not matter, between 
reality and sham, between the truth 
and the lie. Again the comedy is 
exquisite and the observation faultless. 
But again, just as we are yielding 
ourselves to the pleasures of the 
imagination, a little jerk rouses us. 
We are tapped on the shoulder. We 
are to notice this, to take heed of that. 
Margaret or Helen, we are made to 
understand, is not speaking simply as 
herself; her words have another and a 
larger intention. So, exerting ourselves 
to find out the meaning, we step from 
the enchanted world of imagination, 
where our faculties work freely, to the 
twilight world of theory, where only 
our intellect functions dutifully. Such 
moments of disillusionment have the 
habit of coming when Mr. Forster is 
most in earnest, at the crisis of the book, 
where the sword falls or the bookcase 
drops. They bring, as we have noted 
already, a curious insubstantiality into 
the 'great scenes' and the important 

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figures. But they absent themselves 
entirely from the comedy. They make 
us wish, foolishly enough, to dispose 
Mr. Forster's gifts differently and to 
restrict him to write comedy only. For 
directly he ceases to feel responsible 
for his characters' behavior, and forgets 
that he should solve the problem of the 
universe, he is the most diverting of 
novelists. The admirable Tibby and 
the exquisite Mrs. Munt in Howards 
End, though thrown in largely to 
amuse us, bring a breath of fresh air 
in with them. They inspire us with 
the intoxicating belief that they are 
free to wander as far from their crea-
tor as they choose. Margaret, Helen, 
Leonard Bast, are closely tethered and 
vigilantly overlooked lest they may 
take matters into their own hands and 
upset the theory. But Tibby and Mrs. 
Munt go where they like, say what 
they like, do what they like. The lesser 
characters and the unimportant scenes 
in Mr. Forster's novels thus often 
remain more vivid than those with 
which, apparently, most pain has been 
taken. But it would be unjust to part 
from this big, serious, and highly inter-
esting book without recognizing that 
it is an important if unsatisfactory piece 
of work which may well be the prelude 
to something as large but less anxious.


Many years passed before A Passage 
to India appeared. Those who hoped 
that in the interval Mr. Forster might 
have developed his technique so that it 
yielded rather more easily to the im-
press of his whimsical mind and gave 
freer outlet to the poetry and fantasy 
which play about in him were dis-
appointed. The attitude is precisely 
the same four-square attitude which 
walks up to life as if it were a house 
with a front door, puts its hat on the 
table in the hall, and proceeds to visit