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The Longest Journey (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

E. M. Forster , Elizabeth Heine
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Sep 2001 Penguin Modern Classics
Rickie sets out from Cambridge with the intention of writing. In order to marry the beautiful but shallow Agnes, however, he becomes a schoolmaster instead. This abandonment of personal values for those of the world leads him gradually into a living death of conformity and spiritual hypocrisy.


Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (29 Sep 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141185848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141185842
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 14 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,697,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Perhaps the most brilliant, the most dramatic, and the most passionate of [Forster's] works. (Lionel Trilling) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

E. M. Forster is one of the great twentieth century authors. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underated gem 14 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback
I read recently that some hitherto unknown letters of Forster's had been made public. The author of the article expressed surprise that some of the letters betrayed in Forster a significant amount of misogyny. How, wondered the author, could the creator of the wonderfully sympathetic Mrs. Moore, possibly have disliked women? Clearly, that particular author had never read The Longest Journey (or perhaps anything by Forster apart from a A Passage to India). The least known of Forster's six novels it nonetheless contains all of his familiar preoccupations including very definitely the destructive dominance of sensitive, truth loving men by hard-faced, small-minded women.

When he stopped writing novels after 1924 Forster said that he was tired of only being able to create certain character types. These could be said to full into three categories, the classically-trained, beauty-seeking person, the uneducated, simple, id-driven but fundamentally honest person and finally the dishonest, manipulative and worldly person. Throughout the novels many who fit into this last category are women and in Agnes Pembroke he creates one of his most truly repulsive characters. She is materialistic and dull and does everything she can to prevent her husband Rickie from remaining true to himself and pursuing his literary and spiritual dreams.

This is sometimes quite difficult to read but whether or not one accepts it as an accurate representation of what really happens or rejects it as abject misogyny it is difficult not to admire the way Forster elegantly and simply presents his story. Add into the mix typical Forsterian plot devices as gradually new pieces of information about the past are revealed and characters meet again in rather unexpected circumstances and you have a fine piece of work that probably tells you as much about Forster himself as anything else he ever wrote.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forster's most personal novel 1 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
'The Longest Journey' is undoubtedly the most personal of Forster's novels, and is in places semi-autobiographical - he used members of his family for inspiration for a few characters. It is quite easy to read compared to the more critically accepted favourites such as 'A Passage to India' and 'Howards End', and is in fact perhaps my favourite Forster novel. It seems in places unsure in style and structure whether it is trying to be ever so slightly modernist or sticking to a traditional narrative style. Rickie's decline from the intellectual Cambridge circle to control by the domineering Agnes is pathetic in the true sense, and the end is touching in its unexpectedness. The only problem with this edition is the fact that p207 is printed twice and there is no p208 - thankfully I had another edition of it anyway. I recommend, therefore, that people wait until the new Penguin edition comes out so that they don't miss what is quite an important page in the context of the novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long journey but worth it 13 July 2011
Format:Paperback
This is, by my reckoning, E.M. Forster's most personal novel. Indeed everything in `Two Cheers for Democracy' and his letters can be seen in embryonic form here. Starting with the aesthetic, a love for a picture of Stockholm which the uninformed would mistake for Venice [13] (a preference which, to express an interest, I share personally). It also delves deeply in to human consciousness, class, sensitivity, trust and acceptance. The three parts, Cambridge, Sawston (back again), and Wiltshire are perfectly sectioned off and do enough to create the feeling of montage and bildungsroman for Rickie.

The jokes about respectability start quickly and come fast and furious, for example "aunt Emily never pushes anybody lest they rebound and crush her" [20], social protocol is treated with an utmost vehemence at the height of Forster's preaching and casual indifference at other times. English "respectability" is slammed again through the rationalist separation of love in two categories, desire and imagination. Desire is seen as inferior by the English [66]. Agnes is the stereotype of the person who imagines themselves to be unconventional whereas Stephen is really the unconventional one and the personality that most attracts Rickie.

As with all Forster novels the landscape flows in to the story and during some of the descriptions the characters are flung in to a separate dimension and we find that our feet stand in the dell, on the plains of Wiltshire or in the suffocating tightness of Sawston. The two landscapes that are the most important to understanding the human condition and the environment are the dell and the Chilterns.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best Loved though Not The Best 23 Nov 2008
By Ford Ka VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Edward Morgan Forster expressed his special partiality for this particular book regretting that it was never as popular as "The Room with a View". It seems, however, that his readers knew better choosing either the lighter Italian novels or later works such as "Howards End" or "A Passage to India".
Forster's partiality is comprehensible when we try to read the book through his biography. On the one hand he is able to reveal here his long-term infatuation with a fellow student and go back to his university adventures. On the other hand he uses his craft to draw for himself a life he would have had he decided to become straight. The image is far from pleasant - becoming straight means being imprisoned in a hapless marriage for which the hero has to pay with his academic career. It is an unhappy life which ends in an accidental death.
This is an important novel in Forster's oeuvre and if you were attracted by others you should by all means proceed to "The Longest Journey". Still, a modern reader will gasp many a time while reading the novel. It wouldn't be fair to reveal too much but just let me draw your attention to one fact. Forster apparently finds dealing with his cast of characters a bit too much so they disappear one by one... as a result of sudden deaths. When Gerald is "broken" on a football pitch you gasp, but when you have drowning, heart attack, deathly cold and train accident and so on you can't help smiling.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read
Gentle, moving, emotional. I loved it. Forster's storytelling is understated and powerful. There is no evidence of popular trends to overwork a pivotal moment, and that makes it... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Fiona Marlow
4.0 out of 5 stars Are we nearly there yet?
Forster said that The Longest Journey was "the least popular of my five novels, but the one I am most glad to have written. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Metropolitan Critic
3.0 out of 5 stars Too long a journey
I think this suffers from the same problem as Bed. The main character has so little going for him that the novel just runs out of steam. Read more
Published on 20 Jan 2012 by William Shardlow
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best Loved though Not The Best
Edward Morgan Forster expressed his special partiality for this particular book regretting that it was never as popular as "The Room with a View". Read more
Published on 6 April 2009 by Ford Ka
4.0 out of 5 stars The Most Loved though Not the Best
Edward Morgan Forster expressed his special partiality for this particular book regretting that it was never as popular as "The Room with a View". Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2008 by Ford Ka
4.0 out of 5 stars The Modernist Makes it Personal
The Longest Journey's suspicious form and strange conclusions were quite accurately detected by Lionel Trilling who declared this novel in comparison to Forster's others to be his... Read more
Published on 14 Nov 2002 by Eric Anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars Forster at his most personal
Not as good as A Room With a View or Howard's End certainly. The prose is sometimes choppy and the story does not flow as well as these two. Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Forster at his most personal
Not as good as A Room With a View or Howard's End certainly. The prose is sometimes choppy and the story does not flow as well as these two. Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical, thought provoking if a little unrealistic
Out of the two Forster books I've read (the other being Howard's End) I have enjoyed this one most. Perhaps it has something to do with the author's philosophical approach to the... Read more
Published on 11 Nov 1999
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