Sunday, March 22, 2015

Summary of Forster's "Aspects"

I read that in the 70's Ursula K Le Guin had read EM Forster's"Aspects of the Novel" and that is was her go-to resource whenwriting.

Having just finished it, I think A) Forster read a lot of non-Science Fiction (it was 1927), and B) this isn't a "how to" manual.  

I wish he had spoken more about HG Wells or Frankenstein, because I would have liked to see more examples of applying "Aspects" to science fiction novels.  What was useful about "Aspects" is that Forster is always returning to the relationship between the novel and the reader, and the demands each make on the other.

The last three aspects Forster writes about (see summary below) wereparticularly vague, and Forster is using the terms prophecy, pattern, and rhythm in idiosyncratic ways.  In a conversation I'm having, someone has said that rhythm (and prophecy and pattern) are British and particularly Fosterian ways of approaching the (Science Fiction) novel.  

The Aspects of the Novel Are:

        Curiosity:  "And then?"
        Sense of time
        Sense of space
        Story voice:  for the eye, for the ear?
         human feeling and a sense of values
         Surprising -> Round character
         Convincing -> Round character
        Intelligence -> Mystery
         things which are not and implying the supernatural
         mixing the ordinary and the extraordinary
         "Prophecy - in our sense - is a tone of voice."
          Universal themes
          Requires the reader's
                 Suspension of the Sense of Humor
          The shape of the story, plot, and characters.
          The gestalt expression of the novel which 
          releases or liberates it.

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