Contextualization (E.M.F) Copy

E.M FORSTER (1879-1970)


  • Britain reaches heights of wealth and power during Queen Victoria’s reign;
  • Colonial expansion continues in Asia and Africa; India is the most valuable of all British colonies.


Social reforms:

  • Education becomes a universal right;
  • Improvement of health services;
  • The number of people who can vote doubles;
  • The cheap postal system is introduced.

Industrialisation continues and more factories are built;

England becomes the world’s workshop, and London becomes the world’s banker.

20th century

At the beginning of the First World War I (1914), Great Britain was the greatest colonial power in the world;

During the First World War (1914-1918) 1 million Britons died and 2 million were wounded;

After the First World War, the colonies increased their demands for independence. The British Commonwealth of Nations was set up in 1926.

The first half of the 20th century marked the end of the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution.

British rule over India:

  • The British government officially ruled over India from 1858;
  • India had British governors who headed each province and were responsible for the Parliament;
  • The Indians held no role in government, although the English governors had promised this;
  • India won its independence in 1949.


  • Britain’s economic and military position was weakened by the wars;
  • After World War I, debt and unemployment led to The World Economic Depression (1930);
  • Women started to take on new roles:
    • The Suffragette movement led to women being granted the right to vote;
    • Women enjoyed more freedom, unlike in the Victorian era, when they were generally housebound.
  • The start of the 20th century marked a dramatic rise in the number of writers and readers.


Literary trend: REALISM

Principles of Realism:

  • normal situations and ordinary characters are described in familiar settings;
  • attention to detail;
  • description based on experience, not imagination;
  • lower strata of society are emphasized;
  • very little use of metaphors.

Realistic novel traits (the novel is the best form of expression for realism, as it describes the world faithfully and doesn’t idealize it):

  • Major theme: the place of the individual in society;
  • Long, dense, with complicated plots;
  • Physical descriptions of characters are realistic;

Literary trend: MODERNISM

  • Focus on the inner world of the character: literary devices  ̶  memory, perception.
  • The plot is replaced by specific modernist patterns: time, place, character, leitmotifs, symbols, mythic patterns, and cinematic devices (space and time montage).
  • Theme: atemporal, eternal conflicts of the soul, philosophy;
  • The modernist narration moves from one level of narration to another without warning; thus, it breaks narrative frames.
  • Experiments with form and style.


  • Born in London;
  • Attended Cambridge University;
  • Worked as a journalist and travelled a lot;
  • Criticized the class divisions and prejudices of Edwardian England in his works;
  • Keen interest in Indian culture and society. He lived in India for two short periods and was troubled by the racial oppression and deep cultural misunderstandings dividing the Indian people and the British colonists;
  • Novels:
    • “Where Angels fear to Tread”
    • “A Room with a View”
    • “Howard’s End”
    • “A Passage to India”