Katherine, you make Howards End seem better than it really is, for me, that's what I think.I read it last July. I love all novels where the concept of "house" or "home" or "neighbourhood" take the central role. But I didn't get this book. I thought it was silly and shallow (and for a while I avoided 20th cent English lit) Maybe because the book I read just before that was about the Bolshevik Revolution, capitalists, injustice and Marxism everywhere. I was in the mood for high ideas with a wish to change the world. Then came Forster with a really irritating set of characters and lack of intelligent plot. That was my reaction at the time and while I'm not criticising the book (since I was "drunk" in a way), I don't have a pleasant experience with it. I'm not nasty here - I read it in a wrong time.That said, I want to reread it now, thanks to you, in a different state that I'm in now. :) I've heard so many people say how wonderful this novel is - I'm really sad that that was reception of it... I really am.
@Ruby: I hope you like it a little better on your second read. But I know what you mean. I think part of my disillusion with Eliot's The Mill on the Floss is because I read it after Parade's End, same with Waugh's Scoop (which is almost pure satire-- although I stopped reading it, deciding to save it for later).I have a second post with a little more on Howard's End coming up. In many ways even though the house is central to the plot and throughout the story it's almost as though all the characters are displaced until the end when they actually live there.
I found it a calm, pleasant enough read though not wonderful - but I think you have a sensitivity for these unexciteful things. Which is useful because you see things the rest of us don't see. But I read a prominent critic said (and I agree with him) that Forster's chief fault was to make Margaret and Wilcox marry. There was no real attraction between there and it was all too contrived to make up a plot or theme. I haven't finished the book, but I felt Mrs Wilcox didn't get enough space of her own. I think it's in Penguin English Library if I'm not mistaken. Their Tenant of Wildfell Hall has a beautiful cover. I tried Parade's End and was promptly bored with the meaningless detail which I felt added no power. My more liberal friend, who actually bought and read the book couldn't get past 3 chapters. I guess your ability to digest and enjoy books with deep depressing reality (and I think you are a realist and likely a perfectionist) lets you enjoy these works. Perhaps it's why you can't enjoy Eliot (whose world seems semi-idyllic and the speech a bit staged) or Scoop (which satire is in another sort of world.) I read for some form of escape, and to appreciate the inner forces of motivation, and only powerful things can excite me. Which is probably why I don't dig dark depressing reality , unless it has poetic prose and great emotional power.Howards End seems to be trying to be too intellectual, like using the house as some kind of symbol instead of focusing on emotional power and warm-hearted conversation. But that could be reflecting the colder, more reserved and cerebral Edwardian era compared to the early Victorians.
@Caroline: Agreed, her marriage to him is unfathomable.I'm sure I'll enjoy Scoop when I pick it up again, I chuckled quite a few times. It's not that I don't appreciate wit or satire but the contrast of the two works was just too much.What intrigues me with Parade's End is the prose and characters. It took me a few chapters to accustom myself to the language and style-- it being so totally different from the 1800s. It was so stimulating and I really had to focus until it became my language too, so to speak. It is a very emotionally moving book, if you decide to try it again.I teeter between an INFJ and INTJ.I love idyllic art so I'd think idyllic literature would be something I enjoy. I had a hard time with Eliot's Mill on the Floss, possibly, because the only character I really liked was Maggie and even then up to a point and it did feel very staged. Daniel Deronda may be more to my taste, we'll see. ;) Eliot is certainly intellectual in her writing as well though and I loved some quotes within the work.
The language of Parade's End isn't hard - it's the description which is so plodding, a total contrast to Jane Austen. If you moan about the lack of description in Austen, at least you can't condemn her for long boring descriptions. But when I have time and a different mood my tastes may change. Satire doesn't really last the decades so well as emotional darkness, which is why Scoop doesn't last so well as Brideshead Revisited. I tend to dislike modernist works because the characters are rarely altruistic - but of course all of us became selfish after the Wars. Then there isn't the same love of nature and poetry, or the love of teaching oneself out of books like the Victorians did. Victorian novels tend to emphasise on improving yourself, the modernists tend to look at reality darkly and sordidly. I think the Victorians were too idealistic, the modernists too pessimistic - there are such things as happy events even in miserable times.I enjoyed Mill on the Floss more than Eliot's other works though I still think Middlemarch is the best. It had emotional power but I rolled my eyes at the stagedness of Maggie's and Philip's conversations. And the part about her adulthood isn't touched on so much. Stephen Guest was more a figurehead than a person. Still, it gives more perspectives than Jane Eyre, even though Jane Eyre is more "perfect." I guess you could compare Pride and Prejudice to Mansfield Park. The latter is deeper but P&P is funnier and more "perfect."I'm somewhere between an INTP and INFP. Eliot tends to enjoy judging people, so maybe you might dig some of her work?Oh, and sorry for spamming your page.
"What really intrigued me is how and if Margaret Schlegel could care for Mr. Henry Wilcox."Agree. After giving it some thought, I realised that it could be Margaret's only way to remain a respectable woman in society despite her liberal upbringing and a need to take care of someone in life as her siblings enter adulthood and she no longer needs to play a motherly role.But I hated him, pretty much like Helen did.
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