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.
Edward Morgan Forster was born in London on New Year’s Day, 1879. Before he reached his second year, he lost his father, an architect, to tuberculosis. After his father’s death Edward was raised by his mother and aunts, who doted on him and dressed him as Little Lord Fauntleroy for photographs and drawings. While the inner sanctums of female life may have been somewhat oppressive to the young boy, the settings were also inspirational. Forster’s early stories of wardrobes and earrings were set in
didn’t it? Ponte alle Grazie—particularly interesting, mentioned by Dante. San Miniato—beautiful as well as interesting; the crucifix that kissed a murderer—Miss Honeychurch would remember the story.3 The men on the river were fishing. (Untrue; but then, so is most information.) Then Miss Lavish darted under the archway of the white bullocks, and she stopped, and she cried: “A smell! a true Florentine smell! Every city, let me teach you, has its own smell.” “Is it a very nice smell?” said Lucy,
did not know what had happened, and suspected that he did know. And this frightened her. For the real event—whatever it was—had taken place, not in the Loggia, but by the river. To behave wildly at the sight of death is pardonable. But to discuss it afterwards, to pass from discussion into silence, and through silence into sympathy, that is an error, not of a startled emotion, but of the whole fabric. There was really something blameworthy (she thought) in their joint contemplation of the
before bed-time in my room.” So they re-entered the city with hands clasped. It was a shock to the girl to find how far emotion had ebbed in others. The storm had ceased, and Mr. Emerson was easier about his son. Mr. Beebe had regained good humour, and Mr. Eager was already snubbing Miss Lavish. Charlotte alone she was sure of—Charlotte, whose exterior concealed so much insight and love. The luxury of self-exposure kept her almost happy through the long evening. She thought not so much of what
always a lot against our engagement, Cecil, but all our relations seemed pleased, and we met so often, and it was no good mentioning it until—well, until all things came to a point. They have to-day. I see clearly. I must speak. That’s all.” “I cannot think you were right,” said Cecil gently. “I cannot tell why, but though all that you say sounds true, I feel that you are not treating me fairly. It’s all too horrible.” “What’s the good of a scene?” “No good. But surely I have a right to hear a