The Longest Journey was Forster’s own favourite among his novels, because ‘in it I have managed to get nearer than elsewhere towards … that junction of mind with heart where the creative impulse sparks’.1 It is an interesting comment, not least because the success of the novel has always been called in question, and opinions about it have probably been more divided than in the case of any of the others except, possibly, Howards End. But this very fact bears out Forster’s comment: The Longest Journey holds the key to his particular message and gifts as a creative artist. Dismiss it, and you are outside the pale where you can really understand the other novels. But accept it uncritically and you find yourself committed to a valuation that narrows the author’s achievement to that of a novelist concerned merely with self-fulfilment. The extensions of a personal crisis into discussions of a general social situation, which give the other books their authority and poise, are equally present in this one; and in assessing it they must be taken into account when considering what is in many respects a characteristic second novel, an experiment of questionable success following on a more restricted but satisfying first venture. It is certainly a more personal book than its predecessor; and if we are to place the novels in pairs (there is a good case to be made for doing so) it stands with the posthumously published Maurice; the two books may most usefully be read in each other’s light.
KeywordsCreative Artist Play Rugby Football Longe Journey Decent People Questionable Success
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