From Publishers Weekly
Noted literary critic Kermode (Shakespeare's Language
) presents in part his 2007 Clark lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, given eight decades after Forster's own Clark lectures (published as Aspects of the Novel
) and in part a causerie (a loosely organized sequence of observations), in which Forster is reduced in size, placed in a wider context, and occasionally scolded. Kermode provides erudite and good-humored insights into Forster's artistic philosophies, plus deft analyses of the techniques of Forster's contemporaries, such as Henry James (whose style Forster disliked), Virginia Wolfe, Ford Madox Ford and Forster favorite Marcel Proust. Enlarging on Benjamin Britten's remark that Forster was our most musical novelist, Kermode shows how musical transformation and return of phrases was an art he practiced with success in his novels. Kermode makes the case that Forster's homosexuality was the reason for his long abstention from fiction and establishes that Forster placed himself in a cultivated minority above the working classes. Kermode is a delightful mentor for readers wishing to reflect not only on Forster's creativity but on the personal and social circumstances that restricted it. (Dec.)
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Praise for Pieces of my Mind
"[Kermode's] essays and reviews . . . are a model of disinterested intelligence, fueled by a lifetime of reading and learning." —William H. Pritchard, Chicago Tribune
"A sane, steady voice in English letters . . . What distinguishes [Kermode] is his sheer range of interests. Never a period specialist, he ranged freely over the whole of literature, just as keen on the hurly-burly of Elizabethan England as he is on writers of the modern period . . . An exemplary close reader, who can tease out a given work's most subtle frequencies." —Matthew Price, The Boston Globe
Praise for Shakespeare’s Language
"A magnificent book, the honey of a lifetime's visits to the Shakespearean garden . . . Superb." —James Wood, The New Republic
"A sane, canny, steadily informative book." —Brad Leithauser, The New York Times Book Review