Aspects of the Novel

Introduction

Aspects of the Novel is a book compiled from a series of lectures delivered by E. M. Forster at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1927, in which he discussed the English language novel. By using examples from classic texts, he highlights the seven universal aspects of the novel: story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.[1]

Some critics have taken issue with the fact that Forster, as a renowned novelist, formulated a normative theory of how to write prose. W. Somerset Maugham commented that, having read the book, "I learned that the only way to write novels was like Mr. E.M. Forster."[2] Virginia Woolf, reviewing Aspects of the Novel in Nation and Athenaeum, on the other hand, praised some aspects of the book. According to Woolf, Forster, unlike other male critics, never exercises stern authority to save the lady (i.e. fiction), he merely acts as a casual friend who happens to have been admitted into the bedroom. Woolf concedes, however, that this is ultimately not very helpful when it comes to formulating rules: "So then we are back in the old bog; nobody knows anything about the laws of fiction".[3]


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