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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underated gem
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...
Published on 14 Oct. 2010 by Alexis Paladin

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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 question of reality. It is well written with Forster focussing on both the literal and metaphorical meaning of circles. This is the style in which he has chosen to write the story of...
Published on 11 Nov. 1999


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underated gem, 14 Oct. 2010
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Long journey but worth it, 13 July 2011
By 
D. J. Andrews "David Andrews" (Keele, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. Take this extract describing the dell:

"You see, a year or two ago I had a great idea of getting in touch with nature, just as the Greeks were in touch; and seeing England so beautiful, I used to pretend that her Trees and coppices and summer fields of parsley were alive. It's funny enough now, but it wasn't funny then, for I got in such a state that I believed, actually believed, that Fauns lived in a certain double hedgerow near the Gog Magogs, and one evening I walked round a mile sooner than go through it alone" [Rickie to Agnes, p77]

Here Forster brings Arcadia to England; the dell maintains two feelings throughout the novel. The first: a Narnia-esque quality of a vast land of beauty and of hidden liberty that only a few enter through a secret clearing. In this quality it is a place where minds can blossom and new philosophies can be born and taken back to Cambridge. The second: it is an area that, because of its solitude, is conducive to falling in love. It acts as a hidden cove where lovers can meet and hide from the world their passion encircling them as the wilderness encircles the safety of the dell. Therefore the Dell plays a vital role in the development of the early plot of the novel, the environment interacts with the characters emotions.

The south of England is also of high importance; parts of Wiltshire are depicted as flat and barren - the dryness of the events that occur here perfectly links with that. However, moving east Forster tells us that "here is the heart of our island; the Chilterns, the North Downs, the South Downs radiate hence" [132] and it is through that landscape that we are introduced to Stephen's journey.

The eventual relationship between Rickie and Stephen is one that exalts the virtues of forgiveness and friendship; however the friendship is not equal as there is still a slight magnetism on Rickie's behalf towards respectability.
It is hard (but not as hard as writing a review without giving anything away), not to slip in to nihilism whilst reading this story but with Forster's narration and interpretation one can see that grand ambition need not be the purpose of life.

This novel preaches Forster's message of humanism and tolerance more than any other whilst being a good read, there is some mystery left in the ending and one is so used to scandal throughout E.M Forster's oeuvre that speculation will occupy your mind for days after.
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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
'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
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best Loved though Not The Best, 23 Nov. 2008
By 
Ford Ka (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Are we nearly there yet?, 6 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Longest Journey (Audio CD)
Forster said that The Longest Journey was "the least popular of my five novels, but the one I am most glad to have written. For in it I have managed to get nearer than elsewhere towards what was in my mind-or rather towards that junction of mind and art where creativity sparks."

It is probably Forster's most autobiographical book, the central character, Rickie Elliot, being an aspiring writer who attends Cambridge University. (Although in the novel, Elliot marries and goes so far as to produce a child, something Forster had no wish to do.)

The novel is illuminated with flashes of Forster's laconic wit:

"Mr. Pembroke was speechless, and--such is human nature--he chiefly resented the allusion to the hot bottle; an unmanly luxury in which he never indulged; contenting himself with nightsocks."

Yet at the same time one can see why it is the least popular of his novels. The sequence of events related is less plausible than in Room with a View or Howard's End. And the idea of equipping Elliot with a limp, presumably because Forster himself felt in some way handicapped, is to my mind rather cheesy. (The central character with limp device was repeated in Of Human Bondage, Somerset Maugham's 1915 novel.)

I listened to the audio CD version published by Blackstone. There is some confusion about the identity of the reader with this product. The cardboard package announces that the book is "Read by Wanda McCaddon". And that is also the information currently given on amazon.uk. But text printed on the CDs tells us that the book is "read by Nadia May". Listening to the recording, I'm fairly sure it is Nadia May. She's an excellent Forster reader and I would have bought the book anyway: still, someone has blundered.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Most Loved though Not the Best, 23 Nov. 2008
By 
Ford Ka (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forster at his most personal, 6 Aug. 2002
By A Customer
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.
However, it is a very insightful novel and gives the reader a vivid picture of Forster's Public School and University life. I get the impression that Forster needed to get some things off his chest before going onto something bigger and better. The personal aspect of this novel makes it a worthwhile read as does the pastoral descriptions and thought provoking dialogue. It reminded somewhat of "Of Human Bondage" by Somerset Maugham who was obviously impressed and influenced by this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read, 16 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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 all the more powerful.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical, thought provoking if a little unrealistic, 11 Nov. 1999
By A Customer
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 question of reality. It is well written with Forster focussing on both the literal and metaphorical meaning of circles. This is the style in which he has chosen to write the story of Rickie, his domineering wife and a discovery that shatters existence as he knows it. After all, what is existence really?
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forster at his most personal, 6 Aug. 2002
By A Customer
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.
However, it is a very insightful novel and gives the reader a vivid picture of Forster's Public School and University life. I get the impression that Forster needed to get some things off his chest before going onto something bigger and better. The personal aspect of this novel makes it a worthwhile read as does the pastoral descriptions and thought provoking dialogue. It reminded somewhat of "Of Human Bondage" by Somerset Maugham who was obviously impressed and influenced by this book.
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The Longest Journey
The Longest Journey by E. M. Forster (Paperback - 10 Feb. 2014)
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