Tag Archives: E.M. Forster

New books: August

Now, I can’t put prices on these as I can’t recall how much I paid for some of them. However, brace yourselves. There’s a few.

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  • Victor Hugo –  Notre-Dame de Paris     50p
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald –  The Collected Short Stories     50p
  • Evan S. Connell –  Mrs Bridge     99p
  • Patrick Hamilton –  Hangover Square     99p
  • E. M. Forster –  The Obelisk     £1.49
  • Evelyn Waugh –  Vile Bodies     99p
  • Robert James Waller – The Bridges of Madison County     20p
  • Mary Shelley – Frankenstein The 1818 Text     20p
  • Roald Dahl –  The Enormous Crocodile     50p
  • Seth MacFarlane –  A Million Ways to Die in the West
  • Donald Barthelme –  Sixty Stories
  • Christopher Marlowe –  The Plays

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  • Apollodorus –  The Library of Greek Mythology
  • Herodotus –  The Histories

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  • John Kinsella –  Shades of the Sublime & Beautiful
  • William Congreve –  Incognita
  • Three Revenge Tragedies
  • Anne Fadiman –  Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
  • Brian Friel –  Translations     –     Making History
  • Edwin Morgan –  The Play of Gilgamesh
  • Beaumarchais –  The Marriage of Figaro

These seven were all from the book sale at Webberley’s, the bookshop I mentioned in the July books post.

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  • Jeffrey Brown –  Star Wars: Jedi Academy

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  • Jane Austen –  Mansfield Park
  • Jules Verne –  Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Edward Bellamy – Looking Backward

Now, the reason that I never got this post up in August or September was because in late August I ordered a number of William S. Burroughs books off eBay and Amazon, and Royal Mail being what it is, these took a while to arrive. However, there should have been another book arriving that never did, and it was waiting for this one that held me up. We contacted the seller after several weeks, and they sent another out. However, as I type this, I’m still waiting for either copy to turn up. Luckily, we were able to get our money back, but I was a little bit pissed about it.

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  • William S. Burroughs –  Naked Lunch     –     The Yage Letters Redux     –     Cities of the Red Night     –     The Burroughs File     –     The Western Lands     –     My Education: A Book of Dreams     –     Last Words: The Final Journals of William Burroughs

A slightly pedantic point: the edition of ‘Naked Lunch’ shown here isn’t actually the one that I ordered. The one I ordered was the one from the same series as ‘Last Words’ and the copies of ‘The Soft Machine’, ‘The Ticket that Exploded’ and ‘The Place of Dead Roads’ that I got from Oxford back in June. My wife says that she prefers this cover that came, but I’m not too sure.

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Bus Reads 1: Thoughts on E.M.Forster’s ‘Collected Short Stories’

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E.M.Forster by Roger Fry

Well this post has been a long time coming. I read this back in January, and have only now got around to posting anything on it. To be fair, the next few ‘Thoughts on…’ posts are similar, in that I’ve had them read for several months, but have just been so tardy in getting these posts written. Also, the labelling of this as a ‘Bus Read’ is because this was predominantly read on my way to and from work on the bus. As are the next few books, actually.

 


 

This isn’t the first time that I’ve read this book. I was leant it about 11 years ago by my family Vicar, and on the basis of it containing ‘The Machine Stops’, I bought a copy off ebay whilst at Oxford- only getting around to reading it at the start of this year. I have to say that this Wellsian tale is the real gem of the collection, and is perhaps the best short-story I have read- it is perfect in plot, style, message, pathos and irony. My favourite quote from this story has to be from when Vashti is taking an airship over the surface to visit her son Kuno, and refuses to look at the geography that is passing beneath her, just due to the irony and the way in which it pretty much sums up the view of Vashti as a character and the view of humanity in her time:

They were crossing a golden sea, in which lay many small islands and one peninsula. She repeated, ‘No ideas here,’ and hid Greece behind a metal blind.

The rest of the collection is not of the standard of ‘The Machine Stops’, but several of the stories are nevertheless quite noteworthy- and several are not. ‘The Celestial Omnibus’ is the title story of one of the parent volumes for this collection, and tells the tale of a young boy who finds an omnibus that takes him into Heaven, where he meets many mythical heroes. Later, the bus transports a middle-aged neighbour of the child’s, but he dies after falling from the carriage through the sky to the ground below. The story is a highly imaginative one that nicely portrays the imagination of children and the way in which this is closed to adults, as well as showing that children can often be telling the truth, despite the incredible nature of what they often say.

Indeed, my favourite stories in this book all revolve around Heaven or the afterlife (except the anomalous sci-fi tale): ‘The Celestial Omnibus’, ‘The Point of It’, and ‘Mr Andrews’. When it was first published, Forster states that his Bloomsbury friends asked of ‘The Point of It’, “What is the point of it?”, but personally I quite like this story, with its account of a life lived to the full by a man following the death of another young man who he believed was his friend, but who quickly faded from memory. We see the surviving character as he too dies and then reaches Heaven, and see him reassess the way his life played out. Even if the story doesn’t go anywhere particularly, I still like it for the droll manner of its writing, and in the almost Dante-esque descriptions of Heaven with its pillars and deserts of sand.

Similarly, ‘Mr Andrews’ tells of a man who dies and meets a Muslim man on his way into Heaven, where they compare and contrast lives and ideals to show that actually despite our cultural differences, everyone is fundamentally the same on the inside. A nice message, and very well put.

I’m not overly fussed with the other tales in the collection, to be honest, for the simple reason that they don’t seem to either go anywhere or leave any real lasting impression, but despite that I would certainly read this collection again (I have already read it twice, which sort-of vouches for that), with ‘The Machine Stops’ a must. However, I feel that this collection may be a bit like my experience with Fitzgerald. In his case, I adore ‘The Great Gatsby’, yet am not overly impressed with many of his short stories, whereas with Forster I really like many of his short stories, and so am worried that his novels may not live up to these. I shall have to hurry up and read some of his novels to find out!

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Christmas Books

It’s taken me a few days to get around to writing this post, but here I finally am. These first few are ones that I picked and therefore knew my partner was saving for me for Christmas:

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  • Jostein Gaarder –  The Ringmaster’s Daughter
  • Jerome K. Jerome –  Three Men in a Boat
  • J.G.Ballard – Crash

I also knew about this next one. You may remember a month or so ago that I was unable to pick up my old edition of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’, and that I had decided to purchase one of the pleasantly-designed boxsets (see the discussion with myself in this previous post). Well, a while back I had a rather lucky find at the local library booksale:

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This was also saved until Christmas, and was a ridiculously good find- £20 worth of book for 10p! ‘The Hobbit’ isn’t included, but I should be able to pick that up at some point.

I also had:

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  • E.M. Forster – Maurice
  • F.Scott Fitzgerald –  The Last Tycoon
  • Truman Capote –  Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • William S. Burroughs –  Junky
  • Rudyard Kipling –  Puck of Pook’s Hill (off my parents)

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  • Private Eye: A Cartoon History
  • Nicholas J. Higham & Martin J. Ryan –  The Anglo-Saxon World (off my parents)
  • The Private Eye Annual 2013
  • Private Eye: Eyeballs

Quite a nice amount of reading to be getting on with!

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Latest books

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Just a few new books from the past couple of weeks:

  • Kenneth Grahame –  The Wind in the Willows     50p
  • E.M. Forster –  A Room with a View     50p
  • Vladimir Nabokov –  Lolita     50p
  • Elizabeth Gaskell –  The Cranford Chronicles     50p     (containing ‘Mr Harrison’s Confessions’, ‘Cranford’ and ‘My Lady Ludlow’)

I do already own a copy of ‘A Room with a View’, with this cover:

a room with a view

 

However, the Penguin Modern Classics edition shown in the top image has an introduction and notes that this edition doesn’t, so I thought it was worth getting just for that. And, it is in the new Modern Classics series, which I adore on design grounds. However, I do think that this edition does look somewhat gloomy considering the images used on the covers of the other Classics editions:

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I think that the two on the left and the two in the middle are perfectly okay, but the ones on the right look a tad drab in comparison. However, the Classics edition image does look a lot better than the cropped and flipped version in the bottom right, as it seems a lot lighter and inviting. Anyhoo- the big question is which edition should I read? My existing copy or the new one? Decisions decisions!

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The discontinuity with Penguin Classics

In my last post, I mentioned and showed that my partner and I received our copy of Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’ through the post on Thursday, the day of its release. Since its publication was announced, the biggest debate has been around the decision by Penguin to release the volume as a ‘Classic’, complete with the famous black livery. It was a condition of its publication that it would be issued as such, but this has provoked fury from many people due to the book having only just been released, and so not qualifying as a ‘Classic’ on the basis of the usual criteria ie age, importance and popularity. People have also stated that perhaps the ‘Penguin Modern Classics’ imprint would be more fitting, as the ‘Classics’ brand is reserved for texts that are pre-1900. However, I would like to take a moment to show several ways in which this decision is actually not a strange one by Penguin, by looking at some of their other books in print.

I said in the last post that I have recently started to read Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, and so I will start with this.

HoD MCThe cover on the left is the Modern Classics version of this book that I have (well, mine is the 2000 edition without the white band, but otherwise it’s the same), and the other two are earlier Modern Classics editions. Now.

HoD CHere we have four editions of ‘Heart of Darkness’ (with ‘The Congo Diary’ in the third case) all from the Penguin Classics series. I can see where Penguin are coming from: the story was first published in serial form in 1899, and so falls under the ‘Classics’ brand, but was then published as a book in 1902- thus a Modern Classics.

Another case, this time E.M. Forster’s ‘Maurice’, written 1913-14, and published in 1971.

EMF MThe first two covers are from Modern Classics, with the third a Classics version. Similar images can be found for all of Forster’s works, with both Classics and Modern Classics editions available.

t s e t wThen there’s this: ‘The Wasteland and Other Poems’ by T.S.Eliot. Interestingly, this great work of Modernist literature has been published as a Classic by Penguin and not a Modern Classic. This is also the case with James Joyce- my edition of ‘Ulysses’ is a Modern Classic, but my copy of ‘Dubliners’ as shown in a previous post is part of one of the previous series of Classics. I could go on with similar examples.

Another issue that has been had is with Morrissey’s book being a new book, and having not already been out before. Well, Penguin do also have a knack of publishing previously unpublished works as Classics and Modern Classics too. For example:

Truman Capote Summer CrossingThis recently unearthed early manuscript by Capote was published for the first time in 2006 as a Penguin Modern Classic, despite not actually being a classic at this point. It could be argued that it was by a classic author, but… the book still wasn’t technically a Modern Classic. The same could be said for the published letters or diaries of famous authors which then get released as part of the Classics range.

Personally, I feel that Penguin are perhaps making an interesting choice publishing ‘Autobiography’ as a Classics, but unlike some people, do not feel that it is such a strange thing for them to do. Perhaps a Modern Classic would have been more appropriate, but some form of classic status is not unfitting. The lyrics of The Smiths could be published as Modern Classics, which by Penguin’s interesting logic (as demonstrated here) would then make this autobiography an automatic classic. Or perhaps we can now have the lyrics of The Smiths published as a Classic on the back of this. Only time will tell!

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