THE USES OF MUSIC AND THEIR EXTENSIONS IN THE NOVELS OF E.M. FORSTER

Colebourne, Alan Stanford (1976). THE USES OF MUSIC AND THEIR EXTENSIONS IN THE NOVELS OF E.M. FORSTER. The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000fcc9

Abstract

E. M. FORSTER was a novelist with a passionate interest in music. Throughout his life playing the piano, visiting the opera, and attending concerts of orchestral and chamber music constituted his principal forms of pleasure and relaxation; wherever he travelled - in Europe, in Egypt, or in India - the music of the country he visited attracted his keenest attention.

But, more than this, music was for him "the deepest of the arts and deep beneath the arts", and it provided a vital stimulus and source of inspiration in the writing of his novels. Although other English novelists before him had shared his interest and had used music in various ways in their novels, Forster develops these uses -in delineation of character, the creation of atmosphere, the underlining of structure, for example - far beyond the limits of his predecessors, and extends them into the realms of the fundamental imagery, the overall structure, indeed the whole resonance of a novel in a way unparalleled even among his contemporaries.

While all Forster’s novels have in common a certain number of musical techniques, they reveal not so much a steady chronological development of such techniques as a close relat­ing of specific musical material to the particular task in hand. But when, ultimately, such material becomes inadequate for the task, Forster expands it to encompass the whole sphere of sound and silence.

This study surveys the extent of Forster's musical knowledge and ability, indicating the principal influences on him in that area, examines in detail the special musical techniques employed in each novel, illustrates the enormous widening of scope between the first and last, and estimates the importance of his contribution to the development in the uses to which English novelists have put music in their work.

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