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danYell's picture

questions and revisionism

Is there a difference between a novel that exposes to a certain way of life because it happens to be about that way of life, and a novel that exposes us to a certain way of life because the novelist intends for it to? Could Forster have predicted that he would be conveying British culture to American students in 2007? Was this part of his intention in writing the work? Does intention even matter? In biological evolution there is no intention, and direction arises out of selection. In writing, there is much intention on the part of the writer, but the interpretation (direction?) is left up to the reader.

Some of what he was doing in his references to classical literature and the contemporary British lifestyle was an effort to engage his contemporary reader in a world they would understand, full of inside jokes that they could get. It is difficult for us to understand all the references, but we have the added experience of figuring out what life was like during this time.

Then the question becomes is he is accurately portraying English life at this time? What sort of revision work is he doing? How is the author responsible for portraying reality accurately? I’m sure this question becomes trickier in an adaptation. What was Homer’s intention for the reading of Ulysses and Beethoven’s intention for his 5th symphony? Is Forster giving an accurate portrayal of a typical early 20th century British response to these works? Does it matter?



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