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.
“Only connect. . .” – Howards End by E M Forster
About the Author: Karen Christensen
Karen Christensen is an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and scholar who writes about the many ways women have gained and wielded power. She is the owner and CEO of Berkshire Publishing Group, a former trustee of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Press, a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and the founder of the Train Campaign. Subscribe to Karen’s Letter @Substack https://karenchristensen.substack.com or try her Home Ecology newsletter. She can also be found on Twitter @karenchristenze.
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