A Room with a View (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
E. M. Forster
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A charming tale of the battle between bourgeois repression and radical romanticism, E. M. Forster’s third novel has long been the most popular of his early works. A young girl, Lucy Honeychurch, and her chaperon—products of proper Edwardian England—visit a tempestuous, passionate Italy. Their “room with a view” allows them to look into a world far different from their own, a world unconcerned with convention, unfettered by social rituals, and unafraid of emotion. Soon Lucy finds herself bound to an obviously “unsuitable” man, the melancholic George Emerson, whose improper advances she dare not publicize. Back home, her friend and mentor Charlotte Bartlett and her mother, try to manipulate her into marriage with the more “appropriate” but smotheringly dull Cecil Vyse, whose surname suggests the imprisoning effect he would have on Lucy’s spirit.
A colorful gallery of characters, including George’s riotously funny father, Lucy’s sullen brother, the novelist Eleanor Lavish, and the reverend Mr. Beebe, line up on either side, and A Room with a View unfolds as a delightfully satiric comedy of manners and an immensely satisfying love story.
“It’s so obvious they should have the rooms,” said the son. “There’s nothing else to say.” He did not look at the ladies as he spoke, but his voice was perplexed and sorrowful. Lucy, too, was perplexed; but she saw that they were in for what is known as “quite a scene,” and she had an odd feeling that whenever these ill-bred tourists spoke the contest widened and deepened till it dealt, not with rooms and views, but with—well, with something quite different, whose existence she had not realized
part we liked them, didn’t we?” He appealed to Lucy. “There was a great scene over some violets. They picked violets and filled all the vases in the room of these very Miss Alans who have failed to come to Cissie Villa. Poor little ladies! So shocked and so pleased. It used to be one of Miss Catharine’s great stories. ‘My dear sister loves flowers,’ it began. They found the whole room a mass of blue—vases and jugs—and the story ends with ‘So ungentlemanly and yet so beautiful.’ It is all very
of fact, coincidences are much rarer than we suppose. For example, it isn’t purely coincidentality that you are here now, when one comes to reflect.” To his relief, George began to talk. “It is. I have reflected. It is Fate. Everything is Fate. We are flung together by Fate, drawn apart by Fate—flung together, drawn apart. The twelve winds blow us—we settle nothing—” “You have not reflected at all,” rapped the clergyman. “Let me give you a useful tip, Emerson: attribute nothing to Fate. Don’t
pair of snowy shoulders out of the fronds. “I can’t be trodden on, can I?” “Good gracious me, dear; so it’s you! What miserable management ! Why not have a comfortable bath at home, with hot and cold laid on?” “Look here, mother, a fellow must wash, and a fellow’s got to dry, and if another fellow—” “Dear, no doubt you’re right as usual, but you are in no position to argue. Come, Lucy.” They turned. “Oh, look—don’t look! Oh, poor Mr. Beebe! How unfortunate again—” For Mr. Beebe was just
university; of the suburb and of the city” (Wilde, p. 43). On the subject of time and transition at the turn of the century, Forster was in good company. Thomas Hardy had portrayed the fatal pressures of approaching modernity in his last novel, Jude the Obscure, published in 1896. Joseph Conrad, in Heart of Darkness (1902) and Lord jim (1900), drew out the moral ambiguities of a colonial system about to collapse under its own weight. H. G. Wells, building on his science fiction of the 1890s, took