Howards End


I am rather distracted at the moment.
I have too much to do, all of it of great import, and far too little time in which to do it. I am driven to the point of distraction waiting for important people to take some notice of me, and I am reminded that all things in life don't necessarily run smoothly, or according to my plan.
Not that I'm complaining. Part of the problem is that all of the plans I've ever made for my life are coming to fruition at the exact same time, and I am being stretched and tested. I need to remain focused on the positive and on those things of which I am in control.
But reading is difficult when I am so distracted. I have picked up several things and tossed them aside again. I am too picky, and nothing seems diverting. Either too serious and dull or too silly and unworthy. In one of my anxious strolls through the house I pulled Howards End off the shelves, and now find myself utterly immersed. What a wonderful book it is - I've never read it before, though the Merchant Ivory film version is one of my all-time favourite movies. Forster seems to write so effortlessly, and one's interest starts at the very first page. He was a great craftsman, a word I use advisedly. His writing is so very well, and so very conventionally, pieced together. All of those horrible old modernists were scathing in their judgement of Forster, and even now he is viewed as a polite, middle-class novelist. But I'll take Forster over Lawrence or Joyce any old day, and I don't care how silly that makes me sound. I can guarantee that I wouldn't be able to get through even a page of dreary old Joyce in my present mood.
Sometimes I think a lot of the disparagement of Forster is based on homophobia. He was a repressed queen who took up with a married policeman and didn't dare publish anything queer till after he died. He was a figure of fun amongst the Bloomsbury set, who saw him as dreary and impossibly closeted.
As for the previously mentioned movie made of Howards End, it is an absolute delight, and I surprise myself by not owning it on DVD. I shall have to remedy that. Vanessa Redgrave is at her best as the enigmatic Mrs. Wilcox, and I love the scene where Emma Thompson holds up one of Madame Blavatsky's books when asked to show what she's reading.
So I am lost, for the time being, in Forsters delicately drawn Edwardian world in which little things carry a great deal of importance. And I am loving it!

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