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A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster Paperback – Bargain Price, April 26, 2011
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“[A Great Unrecorded History is] a well-written, intelligent and perceptive biography . . . [Moffat] uses the sources for our knowledge of Forster’s sexuality, including letters and diaries, without reducing the mystery and sheer individuality of Forster, without making his sexuality explain everything.” —Colm Tóibín, The New York Times Book Review
“None of [Forster’s] biographers have had either the will or the wherewithal to concentrate as closely on Forster’s sexuality as Wendy Moffat . . . In A Great Unrecorded History, she offers an insightful, revelatory portrait of a man who deeply resented having to hide such an important side of himself . . . Ms. Moffat’s overarching interests are in tracing Forster’s attitudes about sex and hypocrisy and in placing this increasingly outspoken figure within the context of his changing times.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“The Forster who emerges from Moffat’s work is a more human and satisfying figure than we’ve known. She portrays a limited man in full whose compromises between sense and sensuality parallel those of his most complex fictional characters.” —Eric Banks, Time
“This eminently readable, beautifully and often lyrically written biography is gripping, mesmerizing, heartfelt, and kind....Moffat has written a splendid, thoughtful, riveting biography of a man who was a revolutionary in his work, descended into his own sexual depths with aplomb, and left all of us the richer for it.” —Sam Coale, The Providence Journal
“This sympathetic, often touching biography will connect with literature lovers, gay and straight.” —Jocelyn McClurg, USA Today
“Wendy Moffat’s reexamination of E. M. Forster identifies his homosexuality as the essence of his creative life. Using unpublished writings, she charts his gradual awakening to the moral, intellectual, and emotional significance of his homoerotic imagination. Her book is an astute and original new portrait of this major novelist.” —Michael Holroyd, author of A Strange Eventful History
“A Great Unrecorded History explores the intimate life of E. M. Forster with sensitivity and scholarship. Wendy Moffat writes with profound insight about a great writer who believed in the vital significance of personal connection while being unable to openly express his sexual feelings for the men he desired. She also gives us an illuminating picture of gay sexual culture in the first half of the twentieth century. This biography is at once an engrossing read and a book to cherish and go back to. Essential for understanding E. M. Forster and the times in which he lived.” —Sheila Rowbotham , author of Edward Carpenter
“Wendy Moffat’s biography of E. M. Forster is splendid—beautifully researched and written, imaginatively structured, and deeply revealing. We finally have a life of Forster that foregrounds his homosexuality and skillfully traces its impact on his life and art. We’ve had a long wait for a fully honest book on Forster—but at last we have it.” —Martin Duberman, author of Paul Robeson
“A Great Unrecorded History is a bold new re-imagining of Forster’s long career, which makes some striking connections between his life and work.” —D. J. Taylor, author of Bright Young People
Top Customer Reviews
It of course has been long known by readers that Forster's novel MAURICE and a collection of short stories THE LIFE TO COME, dealing with love and sex between men, were published at his direction only after his death in 1970. Moffat writes extensively about MAURICE. One of the most moving portions of this biography appears early when Forster-- he was called "Morgan" by friends and family"-- showed a typewritten copy of the novel to Christopher Isherwood. His eyes wet with tears, Isherwood told Forster that he found the novel "wonderful and brave." Isherwood encouraged Forster to publish the novel-- in 1928, 1948, 1951-- to no avail, however. Forster finished MAURICE before he ever touched another man-- he had his first sexual encounter when he was 37-- and certainly that is one of the saddest facts about Forster's life. Sergeant Leonard Matlovich-- discharged from the USAF for being openly gay-- said something similar in his autobiography when he remembered that he had never touched another human being until he was well into adulthood. Through the years a copy of MAURICE made the rounds of Forster's friends although T. E. Lawrence chose not to read it. The author later in his life revised the novel to give it a happier ending.Read more ›
Moffat situates his homosexuality where he did: right at the center of his life. From that understanding she works through his life to explain the mystery of why his last work was published in just his middle-age -- when he lived in sound mind and body much longer than that. In that seemingly barren time, we see a life teeming with connection and purpose. He was an avid patron and supporter of upcoming authors (many of them homosexual). He built a network of deep, sustaining friendships with men and women (of all stripes: mingling cab drivers and policemen with T.E. Lawrence and the Woolfs). He made quiet forays into advocacy against morality laws, and publicly defended young people endangered by them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hands down one of my favorite authors. So was eager to read this book and learn more about him and his personal life. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Thomas C Ball
This is a fine biography. I have only a few comments. First, I realize that a biographer has to make a decision about which sectors of a life are going to be covered. Read morePublished 10 months ago by David W. Stewart
Wendy Moffat's "A Great Unrecorded History" records in detail the sexual life of E.M. Forster, in an attempt to show how his homosexuality influenced his writing and thought. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Miles D. Moore
It was too gay oriented, and a kind of advocacy of gays,
That's fine and needed, but not in a literary biography.
Though it's understandable why Ms. Moffatt would want to write this, it's superfluous given the exhaustive and authoritative biography by Furbank. Read morePublished on February 1, 2014 by reading man
I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I saw a review suggesting it was all about Forster's lovelife, which persuaded me tentatively that that might be as dry as Forster... Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by Mike J. Rice
Very good at the beginning, up until the 30%, then it became less focused, especially the period about the second New York trip. Read morePublished on January 2, 2013 by Emanuela PlasticDuck