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Howards End (Modern Library Classics) Kindle Edition

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Kindle, January 16, 2001
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Length: 288 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews Review

Margaret Schlegel, engaged to the much older, widowed Henry Wilcox, meets her intended the morning after accepting his proposal and realizes that he is a man who has lived without introspection or true self-knowledge. As she contemplates the state of Wilcox's soul, her remedy for what ails him has become one of the most oft-quoted passages in literature:
Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.
Like all of Forster's work, Howards End concerns itself with class, nationality, economic status, and how each of these affects personal relationships. It follows the intertwined fortunes of the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, and the Wilcox family over the course of several years. The Schlegels are intellectuals, devotees of art and literature. The Wilcoxes, on the other hand, can't be bothered with the life of the mind or the heart, leading, instead, outer lives of "telegrams and anger" that foster "such virtues as neatness, decision, and obedience, virtues of the second rank, no doubt, but they have formed our civilization." Helen, after a brief flirtation with one of the Wilcox sons, has developed an antipathy for the family; Margaret, however, forms a brief but intense friendship with Mrs. Wilcox, which is cut short by the older woman's death. When her family discovers a scrap of paper requesting that Henry give their home, Howards End, to Margaret, it precipitates a spiritual crisis among them that will take years to resolve.

Forster's 1910 novel begins as a collection of seemingly unrelated events--Helen's impulsive engagement to Paul Wilcox; a chance meeting between the Schlegel sisters and an impoverished clerk named Leonard Bast at a concert; a casual conversation between the sisters and Henry Wilcox in London one night. But as it moves along, these disparate threads gradually knit into a tightly woven fabric of tragic misunderstandings, impulsive actions, and irreparable consequences, and, eventually, connection. Though set in the early years of the 20th century, Howards End seems even more suited to our own fragmented era of e-mails and anger. For readers living in such an age, the exhortation to "only connect" resonates ever more profoundly. --Alix Wilber


With a new Introduction by James Ivory
Commentary by Virginia Woolf, Lionel Trilling, Malcolm Bradbury, and Joseph Epstein

"Howards End is a classic English novel . . . superb and wholly cherishable . . . one that admirers have no trouble reading over and over again," said Alfred Kazin.

First published in 1910, Howards End is the novel that earned E. M. Forster recognition as a major writer. At its heart lie two families—the wealthy and business-minded Wilcoxes and the cultured and idealistic Schlegels. When the beautiful and independent Helen Schlegel begins an impetuous affair with the ardent Paul Wilcox, a series of events is sparked—some very funny, some very tragic—that results in a dispute over who will inherit Howards End, the Wilcoxes' charming country home. As much about the clash between individual wills as the clash between the sexes and the classes, Howards End is a novel whose central tenet, "Only connect," remains a powerful prescription for modern life.

"Howards End is undoubtedly Forster's masterpiece; it develops to their full the themes and attitudes of [his] early books and throws back upon them a new and enhancing light," wrote the critic Lionel Trilling.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 953 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1477470336
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library edition (January 16, 2001)
  • Publication Date: January 16, 2001
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1IMM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,072,461 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

139 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Lleu Christopher on September 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have read Howard's End two or three times and listened to it once on tape and it remains one of my favorite novels. Many people were introduced to it by the film, which, good though it was, does not begin to capture the subtle wisdom Forster put into this book. Howard's End can be seen as a quaint period piece about British culture in the early Twentieth Century. On another level, however, it's a brilliant exploration of the human soul. In the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes, Forster has created the perfect embodiment of the eternal conflict between reason and passion. These two families, destined to be united by the marriage of Margaret Schlegel to Henry Wilcox, represent two seemingly irreconcilable aspects of humanity. The Schlegels are artistic, intellectual and impractical; the Wilcoxes materialistic and unapologetically bourgeois. Margaret and Henry have their differences, but it is their relatives who display the more extreme family traits. Margaret's sister Helen is a classic bohemian; Henry's son Charles is a humorless and intolerant banker. As the novel unfolds, the two families are forced to confront each other and decide whether to ultimately part company or compromise. What is most impressive to me about the novel is the naturalness and grace with which the story unfolds. When an author uses characters to embody universal qualities, it is quite a challenge to make the people and story real and not merely symbols. Howard's End succeeds brilliantly as both a thoroughly engaging novel and a rather profound metaphysical inquiry.
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72 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Michael B. Collins on June 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
I first read Howards End during the final year of my Undergraduate degree, and it quickly became my favourite book (displacing Wuthering Heights). There is something within it that really speaks to some people --- I say 'some,' because I have recommended it to many friends, and their responses have run the gamut from a fascination similar to my own, to outright boredom and frustration with the book. Personally, I felt I connected with Forster's lament regarding the loss of a sense of place and permanence in the modern world.

I must disagree with some of the reviewers here, when they say that the issues Forster tackles have little relevance today. I think what attracted me to this book was Forster's examination of those very issues --- most specifically, the quandry that still plagues us today: how can we live an examined, meaningful life in the entropic modern world? I would argue that Howards End is still very relevant.

Forster depicts a society in change, but also a society that is a direct relative of our own. He shows the conflicts of modern VS rural, city VS nature, business/sport VS intellect/art, and smug patriarchy VS proto-feminism. If you identified with the second choice in those four sets, then it is likely that you will very much appreciate the social commentary woven into Howards End, and you will find its sermon of "Only Connect!" something of a mission statement --- I certainly did.

Really, Howards End almost reads like an allegory. The different families (Schlegel, Wilcox, and Bast) each represent aspects of a society in transition, each one lacking some vital component to make it viable.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Leonard L. Wilson on July 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Schlegel sisters are interested in the arts and in the more idealistic liberal social movements of their early 20th century world. The Wilcoxes are practical and materialistic. There seems to be little in common between the two families, but not even a highly embarrassing early amorous encounter can keep them apart. Poor Leonard Bast is as idealistic as the Schlegels, but encumbered by an unloved wife with a shady past, he has not their financial means to avoid dealing with the practicalities of life. Caught between the two factions, he eventually is crushed. Only Margaret Schlegel is finally strong enough to bridge the gap between the practical and the ideal by exerting her benevolent humanity, her passionate and yet controlled determination that people must "connect."HOWARDS END is a minor masterpiece, capturing perfectly the conflict between rigid Victorian values and the more free and open changes in the turbulent years before World War I. Forster handles his characters with great sensitivity and sympathy, yet with a subtle and skillful irony. The novel is not intended for rapid reading, but there is a felicity of expression that is an ample reward for careful perusal. Less fastidious than Henry James, not quite the equal of Trollope in characterization, a more subtle stylist than William Dean Howells, Forster combines some of the best elements of all three of these social chroniclers in an important work that is both highly personal and universal in scope.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Leach on February 8, 2000
Format: Library Binding
The film is dessert. The novel is a thoroughly satisfying meal. The movie is beautifully photographed, faithfully captures the dialogue, and it even gets the comic moments right. But it can't do more than hint at the pleasures of "the real thing."
Every page of the book offers, not just lush landscapes, but ideas worth arguing about. It reminds us that people's actions are bubbles on the surface, the outward and visible signs of events that take place deep within their interior worlds. What's astonishing about this story is how thoroughly it plumbs those worlds. Like Faulkner and Virginia Woolf, Forster has the power to take us way down into the lives of his main characters. We witness what they are becoming, moment by moment. And brooding over the whole story is the wordless, intuitive influence of Ruth Wilcox (the Vanessa Redgrave character) and the power of her love for family and home.
A hugely enjoyable book that demands to be read again and again.
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