E. M. Forster

E. M. Forster

Edward Morgan Forster (1 January 1879 – 7 June 1970), known as E. M. Forster, was an English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. Many of his novels examined class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 16 different years.

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I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.

The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.

History develops, art stands still.

What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?

I distrust Great Men. They produce a desert of uniformity around them and often a pool of blood too, and I always feel a little man's pleasure when they come a cropper.

America is rather like life. You can usually find in it what you look for. It will probably be interesting and it is sure to be large.

One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.

The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died and then queen died of grief is a plot.

One always tends to overpraise a long book because one has got through it.

Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine to them alas! we return.

At night when the curtains are drawn and the fire flickers, my books attain a collective dignity.

Beauty ought to look a little surprised: it is the emotion that best suits her face. The beauty who does not look surprised who accepts her position as her due - she reminds us too much of a prima donna.

England has always been disinclined to accept human nature.

Paganism is infectious more infectious than diphtheria or piety.

I never could get on with representative individuals but people who existed on their own account and with whom it might therefore be possible to be friends.

We are not concerned with the very poor. They are unthinkable and only to be approached by the statistician or the poet.

I am certainly an ought and not a must.

Most quarrels are inevitable at the time, incredible afterwards.

The fact is we can only love what we know personally. And we cannot know much. In public affairs in the rebuilding of civilization something less dramatic and emotional is needed namely tolerance.

The main facts in human life are five: birth food sleep love and death.

Only a writer who has the sense of evil can make goodness readable.

Death destroys a man but the idea of death saves him.

Surely the only sound foundation for a civilization is a sound state of mind.

What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote.

So two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism.

Very notable was his distinction between coarseness and vulgarity coarseness revealing something, vulgarity concealing something.

The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.

The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society was eternal.

There is much good luck in the world but it is luck. We are none of us safe. We are children playing or quarrelling on the line.

Those who prepared for all the emergencies of life beforehand may equip themselves at the expense of joy.

People have their own deaths as well as their own lives and even if there is nothing beyond death we shall differ in our nothingness.

We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand.

There is something majestic in the bad taste of Italy.

Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish!

At the side of the everlasting why is a yes and a yes and a yes.

Nonsense and beauty have close connections.

One marvels why the middle classes still insist on so much discomfort for their children at such expense to themselves.

We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her and admit censorship.

I have only got down on to paper really three types of people: the person I think I am the people who irritate me and the people I'd like to be.

But nothing in India is identifiable the mere asking of a question causes it to disappear or to merge in something else.

One is certain of nothing but the truth of one's own emotions.

I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

There lies at the back of every creed something terrible and hard for which the worshipper may one day be required to suffer.

Unless we remember we cannot understand.

Creative writers are always greater than the causes that they represent.

It is my fate and perhaps my temperament to sign agreements with fools.

The woman who can't influence her husband to vote the way she wants ought to be ashamed of herself.

The sort of poetry I seek resides in objects man can't touch.

How can I know what I think till I see what I say?

I'm a holy man minus the holiness.

For our vanity is such that we hold our own characters immutable and we are slow to acknowledge that they have changed even for the better.

Liking one person is an extra reason for liking another.

Reverence is fatal to literature.

We are all like Scheherazade's husband in that we want to know what happens next.

It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness.

Either life entails courage or it ceases to be life.

I am so used to seeing the sort of play which deals with one man and two women. They do not leave me with the feeling I have made a full theatrical meal they do not give me the experience of the multiplicity of life.

One of the evils of money is that it tempts us to look at it rather than at the things that it buys.

Only people who have been allowed to practise freedom can have the grown-up look in their eyes.

Faith to my mind is a stiffening process a sort of mental starch.

Oxford is Oxford: not a mere receptacle for youth like Cambridge. Perhaps it wants its inmates to love it rather than to love one another.

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man.

No one is India.

Letters have to pass two tests before they can be classed as good: they must express the personality both of the writer and of the recipient.

Only a struggle twists sentimentality and lust together into love.

The sadness of the incomplete the sadness that is often Life but should never be Art.

Charm in most men and nearly all women is a decoration.

The final test for a novel will be our affection for it as it is the test of our friends and of anything else which we cannot define.

Love is always being given where it is not required.

No man can be an agnostic who has a sense of humour.

If there is on earth a house with many mansions, it is the house of words.

Life is easy to chronicle but bewildering to practice.

If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art, men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.

I have no mystic faith in the people. I have in the individual.

The more highly public life is organized the lower does its morality sink.

Love and understand the Italians for the people are more marvellous than the land.

Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.

Tolerance is a very dull virtue. It is boring. Unlike love it has always had a bad press. It is negative. It merely means putting up with people being able to stand things.

Two cheers for Democracy, one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism.

Be soft even if you stand to get squashed.

The historian must have some conception of how men who are not historians behave. Otherwise he will move in a world of the dead. He can only gain that conception through personal experience and he can only use his personal experiences when he is a genius.

Think before you speak is criticism's motto, speak before you think creation's.

The English countryside its growth and its destruction is a genuine and tragic theme.

A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself.

Works of art in my opinion are the only objects in the material universe to possess internal order and that is why though I don't believe that only art matters I do believe in Art for Art's sake.

Ideas are fatal to caste.

The work of art assumes the existence of the perfect spectator and is indifferent to the fact that no such person exists.