Thing number one: I am so so so so so so glad to be doing novels in 19th-20th Century Brit Lit now instead of poetry. (This doesn’t help my Donne problem, since that’s a whole other class, but still.)
Thing number two: Howards End is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I read it several years ago, and remember thinking it was really good, but this time through? Wow. I’ve read more than half of it today, and usually when I have to read that much of a book at one time, it’s sort of a chore. I can’t put this down. Even though I have read it before, and half-remember the story. That almost makes it better, because I can notice all the little details that set up what’s going to come later. Just in nuances of narration, the off-handed introduction of a character of future importance, the one-line paragraphs that say so much, the differences in tone of character that you feel even before Forster makes them explicit. My only criticism right now is that perhaps the characters are a little too exemplary of the points Forster is making about class and the changing of class structure in the early years of the century in England, but I can already see at least a couple of the characters becoming more complex. And even when you think you’ve got a character pegged as to their position and philosophy in life, he’ll throw in a different nuance that doesn’t so much change the character, but changes your perception of the character.
He can say so much with just a few words. I have to confess that I’ve started marking in books…I held off for the longest time, because a) I hate reading marked up books and b) I feel like I’m defacing them. But now, there are so many things I want to remember and draw attention to (in class, but also to myself later) that I had to do it. In pencil, mind you. I haven’t been able to use a pen yet, but perhaps that’s for the better. At least now I can erase my defacements if I feel so inclined. Anyway, I’ve been marking probably a sentence every other page or so. It’s all so good.
I don’t want to read past what we were assigned for class, because that always confuses me and makes me want to bring in things from later in the book that don’t fit yet in discussion, but I cannot wait until after class tomorrow so I can finish it. It’s been several months since I felt quite this way about a book. I love it. This is why I wanted to study literature. To read (and reread) things like this, have other people around who’ve also read things like this, and learn to be able to articulate why I like it so much. I’m not sure I’ve quite gotten to the second part yet…I still tend to fall back on “because it’s awesome!” Which isn’t terribly descriptive.
But yeah. Read Howards End. See the movie, too, if you so desire. It’s very good as well (Emma Thompson won an Oscar, blah blah jaffa cakes), but, as usual, the book is better. ;)