The Longest Journey by E.M. Forster: reviewed

This novel, written over a century ago, raises many questions about education, culture and the English. Exquisitely written, the prose is of a consistently high quality. Influenced by the poet and novelist George Meredith, the book is quite a compelling entertainment.

However, there is an unpleasantness about this work which never quite goes away. It is not to be seen in the unusual body count. Nor is it really evident in the awkward relations between men and women. The problem that dare not speak its name is not apparently related to the author’s sexuality. The core difficulty can be summed up briefly.

This is because the novel is affected by class snobbery. As the literary critic Sir Frank Kermode has elaborated, E.M. Forster had a complete lack of empathy towards servants. It has been revealed that the great author seldom picked his own clothes up off the floor. This attitude is highlighted in the work in question. The lack of imagination shown towards the “bedders” by the Cambridge set is arguably worthy of a dissertation in itself.

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