In A Room with a View Forster takes up the fragments contrasting Italy and England which are found in the early ‘Lucy novels’ and brings them to a successful conclusion. This time the Italian world ensures victory and not defeat; but the victory is won by a narrow margin. Where Angels Fear to Tread had followed a European tradition rather than an English one when it subjected its hero to a process of humiliation and self-scrutiny as a result of his moving from a northern clime to the warmth and freedom of the Mediterranean world: André Gide’s The Immoralist (1902) and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice (1903) show the encounter between the two civilisations as being, in homosexual terms, devastating. But Forster, by his use of indirection and disguise, keeps his tone light and his horizons wide. Less tormented by guilt than Gide (or, for that matter, than Proust), he is not disposed to follow Mann’s version of the homosexual condition as a symbol of artistic sterility. Rather, he now makes use of the particular social shifts and dodges attendant on the condition to evoke a comic world in which his heroine’s choice between life and death can be presented without portentousness.
KeywordsHappy Ending European Tradition Tone Light Northern Clime Comic World
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