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Concerning E.M. Forster

by Frank†Kermode


Concerning E. M. Forster by Frank Kermode is a lovely volume as befits quality publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The subject matter, too, is perfect for this publisher, one of the few who publish literary criticism these days.

Author Kermode is a well-known critic who has ties to Forster through Cambridge University where Forster was schooled, sort of the seven links removed kind of thing. He ranges widely on everything from the musicality in Forsterís work to Forsterís best-known work, A Passage to India. One assumes that a reader would not come to this book without more than a passing knowledge of Forsterís work and a penchant for literary criticism.

Though I should fit into this category, I found the book a bit tedious until Kermode tackled Passage. This in spite of the fact that the critic is capable of being a bit curmudgeonly about Forsterís work, and in spite of his obvious attachment to both the man and his work.

As expected, this book would make a lovely gift for a very specific niche. It is academic and thoughtful. Here is my warning. Do not buy it or give it to someone merely because they were English majors. This book is for the few. Those smitten with the likes of Proust, Virginia Woolf and, of course, Forster himself. In fact, it is for readers who were recently immersed in a Forster seminar at the graduate level or have a memory that continues to echo with Forster prose.

The Book

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
December 2009
0374298998 / 978-0374298999
Literary criticism
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The Reviewer

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Reviewed 2010
NOTE: Reviewer Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the award-winning author of This is the Place, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, and a chapbook of poetry titled Tracings, winner of the Military Writers Society of America's Award of Excellence and named Top Ten Best Reads by the Compulsive Reader. She is also the author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books including The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, a USA Book News and Reader Views Literary Award winner, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't, the 2004 winner of USA Book News' Best Professional Book of the Year and Irwin awards, and, most recently, Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy. Current projects include a Celebration Series of poetry chapbooks with Magdalena Ball. She Wore Emerald Then and Cherished Pulse are already available through, with Imagining the Future soon to be released. Carolyn is also's "Back to Literature" columnist
© 2010