1905 visit to Italy with mother



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1905 visit to Italy with mother

  • 1905 visit to Italy with mother

  • First part written when he was 23

  • A novel about tourists written by a tourist.

  • Not a novel about Italy and Italians, but about what Italy does to English people.

  • Novel about Lucy Honeychurch and her growth. A Bildungsroman.

  • Novel about Mr Emerson’s philosophical views (a mouthpiece for Forster)



Vitalism. Life-affirming philosophy.

  • Vitalism. Life-affirming philosophy.

  • Pagan emphasis on the physical. Pan,

  • Nature must be given her dues.

  • Love and passion are a part of life, and nothing to be ashamed of.

  • Repress the body, and you strangle the soul.



Aspirations to philosophical depth but often Forster superficial.

  • Aspirations to philosophical depth but often Forster superficial.

  • Heavy-handed symbolism.

  • Allusions to Dante, Ruskin, Pater.

  • Clumsy use of mythology.

  • Hazy poetical language

  • Best at social comedy.

  • Can invest insignificant gestures or happenings with great meaning. Banality, everydayness becoming a spy of important truths.



Parable hiding Forster’s desire of”being himself,” of coming out of the closet.

  • Parable hiding Forster’s desire of”being himself,” of coming out of the closet.

  • Novel reflects Forster’s uneasiness with heterosexual love stories. Cf. Diaries (published 2011) “Weariness of the only subject I can and may treat – the love of men and women & vice versa”

  • Tries to encode homosexuality in heterosexual personal relations.



England vs Italy

  • England vs Italy

  • Italianate characters vs English-English characters (see George’s kiss vs Cecil’s kiss)

  • Aestheticism vs Socialism.

  • Medievalism vs Renaissance

  • Rigidity vs. ease

  • Propriety vs impopriety (p. 40)

  • Self-control vs instinct

  • Life denial and life acceptance.

  • Indoors vs outdoors

  • Darkness vs light



The novel follows Lucy’s spiritual growth: “Italy was offering her the most priceless of all possessions—her soul” (ch. 9)

  • The novel follows Lucy’s spiritual growth: “Italy was offering her the most priceless of all possessions—her soul” (ch. 9)

  • From darkness to light

  • From confusion to a vision (a view): “it was as if he had made her see the whole of everything at once!” (end of ch. 19, p. 191).

  • Novel about the conversion of Lucy from England to Italy in 3 phases:

    • from England to Italy (Florence)
    • From Italy to England: engagement to refined, but life- denying Cecil Vyse.
    • From England to Italy: engagement to unconventional, sensuous George
  • .



Rev. Beebe believes in coincidence, a characteristic of romance, but George refuses it.

  • Rev. Beebe believes in coincidence, a characteristic of romance, but George refuses it.

  • Miss Lavish: accidental fairy godmother.



English snobbishness. The Signora “a cockney”! “Ill-bred tourists.” friendly advice at the Pensione etc.

  • English snobbishness. The Signora “a cockney”! “Ill-bred tourists.” friendly advice at the Pensione etc.

  • Victorian prudishness (pp. 70-71)

  • Tourists (Miss Lavish, Lucy in Samta Croce)

  • Satire of imitation of English social life in Italy: “Was this really Italy?”

  • English expatriates in Florence. Italophiles unable to integrate. Mr Eager p. 67).



Suburbia: ideals of “kindly affluence” “inexplosiv religion” “dislike of paper-bags, orange-peels, an broken bottles”.

  • Suburbia: ideals of “kindly affluence” “inexplosiv religion” “dislike of paper-bags, orange-peels, an broken bottles”.

  • Concept of vulgarity vs gentility.

  • Social barriers in England vs Italy.

  • Conformity. “Life … was a circle of rich, pleasant people, with identical interests, and identical foe. In this circle one thought, married and died” Outside was “vulgarity”



View. Central metaphor.

  • View. Central metaphor.

    • Of the Arno. Of “magic Florence.” Of the sky
  • But also from Windy Corner. (Ch. VIII):

  • In contrast with room:

    • Windy Corner’s drawign room; darkness of curtained room
    • .Cecil viewed as connected to a drawing-room. .
  • Phaeton and Persephone.

  • Pan.

  • Medievalism = asceticism, refusal of the body. (title: ch. VIII and ch. XX); Cecil, “medieval like a Gothic statue”). Victorian aesthetics of medievalism (Ruskin)



Myth of Persephone: from world of the dead back to life. Spring.

  • Myth of Persephone: from world of the dead back to life. Spring.

  • Lucy: from witnessing death to discovering love.

  • While Lucy’s education tells her the kiss is wrong, her nature tells her it is right. Excusing herself with Charlotte: “I simply slipped into those violets” Ch. 7, p. 79.



Post-Victorian, turn-of-the century, Edwardian spirit. In the wake of Ruskin, Pater, the aesthetes

  • Post-Victorian, turn-of-the century, Edwardian spirit. In the wake of Ruskin, Pater, the aesthetes

  • Only first part about Italy

  • Second part in England

  • Curtained drawing-room p. 88 vs Italian sunlight.

  • However, among people who have returned from Italy

  • Influence of Italy on English people. English Italianate…

  • Compare George’s and Cecil’s kisses.



Pensione Bertolini

    • Pensione Bertolini
    • Charlotte Bartlett p. 18, p. 45, 86
    • The clever lady, Miss Lavish A parody of the “new woman”. p. 21
    • The clergyman Mr Eager (p. 28, 56
    • Cecil “ (Gothic vs Greek) p. 93 “A room with no view” p. 114, Cecil’s kiss (p. 115) un inglese italianato” p. 118


The Emersons (p. 26)

  • The Emersons (p. 26)

    • George always met at the margins of civilization
    • Out of doors; in moments of natural outburst;
      • Murder, outing with Italian lovers, violets, pond
  • Lucy

    • Music p. 14,
    • Her discontent. 45
    • What Italy does to people p. 62
    • The violets 75
  • Mr Beebe

  • (Freddy)



Picturesque, e.g. p. 19

  • Picturesque, e.g. p. 19

  • “Pernicious charm of Italy” p.25

  • Italians perceptive but superficial p. 39

  • Miss Lavish’s Italian plot “Love, murder, abduction revenge” 54

  • Murder episode (pp.46- 51)

  • The cab-driver and his girlfriend (Phaeton and Persephone)

  • In Italy “any one who chooses may warm himself in equality , as in the sun”



Very few encounters with actual Italians. Mostly people seen on the street, noisy, lively, pictursque.

  • Very few encounters with actual Italians. Mostly people seen on the street, noisy, lively, pictursque.

  • Traditional views.

  • Italians are violent: murder scene.

  • Italians as lovers unencumbered by conventions . Phaeton and Persephone.



Edwardian age: signs of the Victorian code relenting.

  • Edwardian age: signs of the Victorian code relenting.

  • In social life , class barriers coming down. Socialism.

  • Women beginning to aspire to equality.

  • Art gives more space to emotion and sexuality.

  • Reflections in the novel:



A place where anything may happen.

  • A place where anything may happen.

  • Ch. V, : Florence “ a magic city where people thought and did the most extraordinary things.”[…] “Was there more […] the power, perhaps, to evoke passions, good and bad, and to bring them speedily to a fulfillment?” ( p. 69).

  • As in O’Faolin, D.H. Lawrence and other 20th cent. Writers, a place of freedom and sexual expression.



Lucy “returned with new eyes”

  • Lucy “returned with new eyes”

  • Cecil: “Italy had quickened [him] not to tolerance but to irritation” at “local society [that] was narrow” .



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