“Only connect. . .” – Howards End by E M Forster

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“Only connect. . .” – Howards End by E M Forster

I found an old copy of Howards End on my bookshelves after reading a reference to its epigram, “Only connect. . .” Connecting is on my mind, working on this project and on my company’s ChinaConnectU.com, and of course in life, too. I remembered the green paperback amongst my myriad books, poetry and novels from my student days that I somehow got to England after college and to the East Coast when I returned to the States ten years’ later. I began reading, was immediately engaged by the amusing opening letter from one sister to another, and as I went on was certain I had never read the book before. Then I found a 3×5 card in the back with my careful student notes. I had absolutely no memory of the story, and enjoyed it all the more for that. I don’t remember loving Forster at all as a student – perhaps because I also read criticism by the likes of Lionel Trilling, quoted on the back cover of this copy and enough to put any reader off. But it’s a marvelous book and I’m thoroughly impressed by Forster. I’m wondering if literature is somewhat wasted on the young, who have had too little experience to understand the human drama in a novel like this. I wish I could think that I learned something from it, unconsciously, but I’m not sure I did. And there is so much cultural and social context needed to understand a novel like this – class, money, imperialism, not to mention ideas about love and sex – that I tremble to think of a college professor trying to “teach” it. But I do recommend reading it! Here’s a link to it at LibraryThing, where I was even able to choose the lurid green cover of my mass-market edition: Howards End by E. M. Forster.

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