by Sam Alexander. Abinger Harvest () collects essays, reviews, poetry and a pageant play, written by E.M. Forster between the years Edward Morgan Forster () was the author of many well-known novels, including Where Angels Fear to Tread (), A Room with a View (). Abinger Harvest [E. M. Forster] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This collection of articles, essays, reviews, and poems, written by the.
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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. They are arranged not in their order of composition but according to subjects.
They fall into four sections. This deals with sonie creative writers, mainly my Contemporaries, whom I have admired or loved. I know that there are other answers. I iii The past. Beginning with a few reflections upon the con- ; solations of history, I proceed to angle in the stream, and draw out of it objects ranging in date from a Greek toilet-case to a i house which once belonged to my great-grandfather.
The fourth section, after saluting the Orient, strays from the nearer east on the tracks of the Emperor Babur into India, and comes to rest there in the Bhagavad-Gita.
Thanks are due to the editors of the I following periodicals for allowing republication: A miscellany can abinfer no value as an offering. Ail the same, I should like to offer this one to some of ‘ the friends in a younger generation who have encouraged me to compile it ; most particularly to William Plomer, and also to J. J- Buckingham, and Christopher Isherwood. I had better let the cat out of the bag at once and record my opinion that the character of the English is essentially middle-class.
abinge There is a sound historical reason for this, for, since the end. They gained wealth by the Industrial Revolution, political power by the Reform Bill of ; they are connected with the rise and organization of the British Empire ; they are responsible for the literature of the nineteenth century.
Solidity, caution, integrity, efficiency. Lack of imagination, hypocrisy. These qualities cltaracterize the middle classes in every country, but in England they are national characteristics also, because only in England have the middle classes been in power for one hundred and fifty years.
Of course there are other classed: But it is on the middle classes that the eye of the critic rests— just as it rests aninger the poor in Russia and on the aristocracy in Japan. Russia is symbolized by the peasant or by the factory worker ; Japan by the samurai ; the national figure of England is Mr.
Bull with his top hat, his comfortable clothes, his substantial stomach, and his substantial balance at tlie bank. Saint George may caper on banners and in the speeches of politicians, but it is John Bull who delivers the goods. It all amounts to the same in the end. This extraordinary institution is local. It does not even exist all over the British Isles. It is unknown in Ireland, almost unknown in Scotland countries excluded from my surveyand though it may inspire other great institutions- — Aligarh, for example, and some of the schools in the United States— it remains unique, because it was created by the Anglo- Saxon middle classes, and can flourish only where they flourish.
How perfectly it expresses their character — hr better, for instance, t han does the university, into which social and spiritual com- plexities have already entered. With its boarding-houses, its compulsory games, its system of prefects and fagging, its insistence on good form and on esprit de corps, it produces a type whose weight is out of all proportion to its numbers.
On leaving his school, the boy either sets to work at once — goes into the army or into business, or emigrates — or else proceeds to the university, and after three or four years there enters some other profession — becomes a barrister, doctor, civil servant, schoolmaster, or journalist. If through some mishap he does not become a manual worker or an artist. In all these careers his education, or the absence of it, influences him. Its memories influence him also. Many men look back on their school days as the happiest of their lives.
They remember with regret that golden time when life, though hard, was not yet complex ; when tlj-ey all worked together and played together and thought to- gether, so far as they thought at all ; W’hen they were taught that school is the world in miniature, and believed that no one can loye his country who does not love his school. They attribute all good to the school. They quote the remark that ‘ the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton. And it is this undeveloped heart that is largely responsible for the difficulties of Englishmen abroad.
The difference is important, and on it my next note will be based. He has been taught at his public school that feeling is bad form. He must not express great joy or sorrow, or even open his mouth too wide when he talks—his pipe might fall out if he did.
He must bottle up his emotions, or let them out only on a very special occasion. We both harvsst ourselves and were sorry when the week was over, but on parting our behaviour was absolutely different.
He was plunged abinget despair. He felt that because the holiday was over all happiness was over until the world ended. He could not express his sorrow too much.
But in me the Englishman came out strong. The conclusion of the anecdote is even more instructive. For vvhen wc met the next month our conversation threw a good deal of light on the English character.
I began by scolding my friend.
I told him that he had been wrong to feel and display so much emotion upon so slight an occasion ; that it was in- appropriate. A small occasidn demands a little emotion, just as a large occasion demands a great one. Returning immediately, Ire added: Emotion has nothing to do with appropriateness. It matters only that it shall be sincere. I happened to feel deeply, I showed it. Yet I could not agree with it, and said that I valued emotion as much as he did, but used it differently ; if I poured it out on small occasions I was afraid of having none left for the great ones, and of being bankrupt at the crises of life.
But my friend spoke as an Oriental, and the Oriental has behind him a tradition, not of middle-class prudence, but of kingly munificence and splendour.
He feels his resources are endless, just as John Bull feels his are finite. As regards material resources, the Oriental is clearly unwise. But, as regards the resources of the spirit, he may be right.
The emotions may be endless. The more we express them, the more we may have to express. True love in this differs from gold and clay, That to divide is not to take away, says Shelley. Shelley, at all events, believes that the w’ealth ,of the spirit is endless ; that we may express it copiously, pas- sionately, and always ; and that we can never feel sorrow or joy too acutely.
In the above anecdote, I have figured as a typical Englishman. A note on tlie slomiess of the English character. The Englishman appears to be cold and uneifiotional because he is really slow.
When an event happens, he may understand it quickly enough with his mind, but ke takes quite a while to feel it. The horses ran away, and as they were dashing across a bridge the coach caught on the stonework, tottered, and nearly fell into the ravine below. The Frenchmen were frantic with terror: The Englishmen sat quite calm. An hour later the coach drew up at an inn to change horses, and by that time the situations were exactly reversed.
The Frenchmen had forgotten all about the danger, and were chattering gaily ; the Englishmen had just begun to feel it, and one had a nervous breakdown. We have here a clear physical difference between the two races — a difference that goes deep into character.
The Frenchmen responded at once ; the Englishmen responded in time. They were slow and they were also practical. Their instinct forbade them to throw themselves about in the coach, because it was more likely to tip over if they did.
When a disaster comes, the English instinct is to do what can be done first, and to postpone the feeling as long as possible. Hence they are splendid at emergencies. No doubt they are brave — no one will deny that — but bravery is partly an affair of the nerves, and the English nervous system is well equipped for meeting a physical emergency.
Abinger Harvest by E.M. Forster – FictionDB
It acts promptly and feels slowly. Such a combination is fruitful, and anyone who possesses it has gone a long way toward being brave. And when the abniger is over, then the Englishman can feel.
There is one more consideration — a most important one. If the English nature is cold, how is it that it has produced a great literature and a literature that is particularly great in poetry? Judged by its prose, English literature would not stand in the first rank. abingdr
Full text of “Abinger Harvest”
It is its poetry that raises it abinyer the level of Greek, Persian, or French. And yet the English are supposed to be so unpoetical. The nation that produced the Eliza- bethan drama abd the Lake Poets cannot be a cold, unpoetical nation.
The warm sympathy, the romance, tlie imagination, that we look for “7 THE PRESENT in Englishmen whom we meet, and too often vainly look for, must exist in the nation as a whole, or we could not have harvext out- burst of national song.
An undeveloped heart — not a cold one. The trouble is that the Abinver nature is not at all easy to understand. It has a great air of simplicity, it advertises itself as simple, but the more we consider it, the greater the harvesh we shall encounter. People talk of the mysterious East, but the West also is mysterious. It has depths that do not reveal them- selves at the first gaze.
We know what the sea looks like from a distance: But if we look into the sea over the edge of a boat, we see a dozen colours, and depth below depth, and fish swimming in them. That sea is the English character — apparently imperturbable and even.