Forster’s The Longest Journey and “the code of modern morals”
“Sin was not necessarily something that you did: it might be something that happened to you.”1 Orwell’s “ ‘Such, Such Were the Joys,’ ” here recalling the lunatic dilemmas he was thrown into by his bed-wetting at school, typifies what, in spite of many readings of novels such as David Copperfield, Great Expectations, The Mill on the Floss, Pendennis, Richard Feverel, or The Way of All Flesh, we may forget: that English authors since the romantic period have been preoccupied with the Blakean “experience” as much as with the Blakean “innocence” of childhood. Written in 1947, “ ‘Such, Such’ ” harkens back to the Edwardian England that is the setting for the novel I want to examine in this chapter, Forster’s The Longest Journey (1907), which is heavy with Blakean experience from beginning to end. It may never have as many readers as Forster’s more coherent and ambitious Passage to India or Howards End, on which his reputation will always rest, or his more complaisantly comic Room with a View, but it ought to have more readers than it does. Forster (1879–1970) liked it best of all his books, and if we place it in the tradition of the Bildungsroman, we can understand why.
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