Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ten from E. M. Forster

In my recent Q&A interview about the Folio Club I named a few favorite authors, including E. M. Forster—from whom I now offer the following ten quotations for you to ponder and enjoy.

• Only a writer who has the sense of evil can make goodness readable.

• Nonsense and beauty have close connections.

• The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died and then the queen died of grief is a plot.

• Letters have to pass two tests before they can be classed as good: they must express the personality both of the writer and of the recipient.

• The final test for a novel will be our affection for it, as it is the test of our friends, and of anything else which we cannot define.

• The work of art assumes the existence of the perfect spectator, and is indifferent to the fact that no such person exists.

• The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.

• The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.

• I distrust Great Men. They produce a desert of uniformity around them and often a pool of blood too, and I always feel a little man’s pleasure when they come a cropper.

• At night, when the curtains are drawn and the fire flickers, my books attain a collective dignity.

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