The Writings of E. M. Forster

The Writings of E. M. Forster

The Writings of E. M. Forster

The Writings of E. M. Forster

Excerpt

WRITERS, like other people, are rooted in time and place, embedded in, growing and flowering out of, these conditioning soils, so that you will only with some pains sort their elements, disentangle the individual from the background, and never (I think) quite; indeed, how could you, since all the background, the march of all the centuries, the crowding shades of all the dead up to that moment, of all the living in that moment, charge the lightest spoken word at any given hour, with their unescapable rhythms, echoes, syntheses and purposes? You cannot move writers, nor artists, nor musicians, nor philosophers, nor indeed anyone else, about the world or about time, or even about society, and retain their peculiar colour: put, for instance, the Restoration playwrights into the Middle Ages, Dante into eighteenth-century England, make Jane Austen an Elizabethan, Pope a Lake poet, Coleridge an Augustan, Horace an Athenian of the Periclean age, Dickens and Thackeray French twentiethcentury novelists. You cannot, because you cannot imagine what in the world they would be like . . .

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