2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This slim volume contains what E.M.F. managed to write before writer's block set in. There is no real plot - the book ends before the plot has any chance to develop - so what you get is a handful of characters and scenes in typically Forsterian style.
One cannot help but wonder - would it be a good novel? My impression is that it would not. Certain elements and scenes have been used before (close reading reveals especially similarities to A Room with a View), and there is little new and striking. The central conflict between action and ideas would probably be too little to sustain another novel after Howards End.
In short - a necessary reading for any true Forsterian and it is very good that it is finally available in a mass-market paperback (the Abinger edition is very difficult to find) but not necessarily for the general reading public. General reading public, however, should immediately aim for the next novel Forster managed to complete: A Passage to India.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2009
Arctic Summer comprises the first nine chapters of the novel Forster never found inspiration enough to complete. The writing is reminiscent of 'Maurice', which was written around the same time as this fragment.
Something for Forsterians I think, as what exists would make little sense to the general reader. As it is, I'm pushed to recall exactly what transpired in the few chapters Forster did complete, although I read them only a few days ago.
Damon Galgut has written a brilliant novel about E.M.Forster's connections with India, and he called it "Arctic Summer" (see my Amazon Review) after the unfinished novel by Forster of the same name, which he began in 1911, abandoned in 1912, partially revised in 1951 and then abandoned again. It was not published until 1980, ten years after Forster's death. Galgut's novel took me to Forster's, especially after I had found a comment by the novelist and literary critic Paul Binding in The Guardian, who wrote that "after many readings I have come to believe that had he been able to work it through to a conclusion, it would have been his masterpiece." I cannot say that I agree with Mr Binding.
The main protagonists in the novel, Martin Whitby and the Lieutenant Clesant March, embody opposite ideas and temperaments: Martin is a calm, modern, liberal; Clesant and his adored brother Lance are young men who have grown up under the influence of their uncle Arthur Vullamy (the best delineated character in the novel, albeit verging on caricature) with a military-romantic code of chivalry, heroism, and sense of honour and probably sharing Vullamy's view that Martin's way of living is not only decadent but dangerous for England: what the middle classes need was "the discipline of war". But while a clash of such attitudes is credible, I found the personalities embodying them hard to take seriously, Clesant in particular, and some of the writing (including the title of the novel) rather mannered.
The fragment ends abruptly and dramatically after 84 pages. I thought the plot became interesting only ten pages before that.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2013
Half a book by E.M.Forster is worth a whole book of Viriginia Woolf. The theme is a perennial one; the cool Anglo Saxon attitude versus the warm blooded Mediterranean attitude. The characters are deftly sketched and the plot moves swiftly along only to stop at a sudden, violent incident. It is a great shame Forster could not work out how to finish the story.
My copy was in mint condition