Aspects of Novel by E. M. Forester

Aspects of Novel a series of lectures on the English novel, delivered by E. M. Forster at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1927. Forester is the view that there exist two types of critics in literary world-the one who “follows the method of a true scholar without having his equipment.” (pseudo-scholar).

Such a critic focuses mainly on chronology.  He divides literature according to ages, years, reigns, movements etc. This chronology according to Forester is irrelevant as well as pernicious or harmful in literature.

The true scholar, on the other hand, does not entertain chronology. Instead of focusing n the trends and styles of particular ages, he looks at the vital aspects of the novel that are common among all the novel of all the times.

These vital aspects are a story, characters, plot, prophecy and patterns and rhythms.

  1. The first element is the suspenseful story.
  2. The second important thing on which true scholar focuses on the characters-two types of characters-flat character who are straightforward and the round characters.
  3. The third important aspect is the plot-a novel should have a well-defined plot i.e. a well beginning, climax and end and the characters should fit the measure of the plot.
  4. The fourth one is the fantasy-the supernatural elements which are important for those novelists who cannot create good characters.
  5. The fifth one is prophecy. Forster describes the aspect of prophecy in a novel as “a tone of voice” of the author, a “song” by which “his theme is the universe.
  6. The last one is the pattern and rhythm-repetition plus variation.

A true scholar tries to find these commonalities in a novel as opposed to pseudo-scholar who instead focuses on ages.