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Julia Smith's picture

Literary Cannon

In class today, I have to admit, it made me kind of angry to think about if Howards End was relevant enough to us to be in the literary cannon. I really enjoy Howards End as a story...and I don't feel like it has to be relevant to us in order to be appreciated. Can't we just appreciate it and analyze it for what it is? 

I guess this kind of relates to the discussions we had the first half of class about meaning, and how as humans we search for meaning in everything. Perhaps in trying to relate this book to ourselves and our modern culture we're searching for meaning that wasn't intended (by the author) to exist. Forster clearly wrote this novel for his time, and I think by trying to turn the novel into something that it's not is kind of..being disrespectful of that. I think the only way to really pay tribute to Howards End in a modern context would be to do what Zadie Smith did in On Beauty. (I haven't yet read On Beauty so I'm just assuming.) We can ask who Margaret and Helen would be if they were living today, but we can't legitimately ask if Margaret and Helen are close enough to ourselves to be relevant in modern times. 

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