Sally Alexander's Book Club
Return home to Holton!
Join Sally Colclough Alexander '51 and fellow alumnae for wine, cheese, and conversation!
Thursday, March 8
For this meeting, we will be reading A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
Kindly RSVP to Advancement Associate for Special Events Courtney Bowers, 301-767-2388
A special message from Sally:
I think I last read A /room with a View when I was about eighteen, so this re-reading is almost like reading a novel for the first time. I am looking forward very much to your responses.
I want to say a few words about context, and I hope when we meet we can talk a little about style and structure as well as story and theme. As a group, we have more or less aimed at alternating contemporary novels with twentieth century classics. Room was published in 1908. On the first page Forster shows us, in "the portraits of the late Queen and the late Poet Laureate that hung behind the English people, heavily framed" that the age of Victorian and Tennysonian faith and morality is over. I think there are other subtle, unobtrusive metaphors that work this way in the book.
The chapter is devoted to concerns of gentility and questions of who "will do" and who will not; but in the second chapter, when Lucy talks with Mr. Emerson in Santa Croce, Forster moves us to the metaphysical level with Mr E's explanation of George's unhappiness caused by the realization of the randomness of human existence, the chance winds that blow us here, and will blow us away.
The great voices of the late Victorian age - Forster refers to the Age of Doubt following the Ages of Faith - were agonized or sad. Hardy's novels were big, rambling. And Hardy often spoke in his own despairing voice, shouldering Eustacia or Jude aside. In "Dover Beach" Matthew Arnold lamented that "The Sea of Faith/ Was once, too, full/ . . . But now I only hear/ Its melancholy, llong, withdrawing roar . . . " and even Tennyson recognized that "Nature, red in tooth and claw/Shrieks against Man's creed."
Forster does not roar or shriek. I see Room as transitional between the late Victorians and the high Modernists. He certainly did not know what or who he was anticipating, but he knew from what and whom he was moving away.