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Distant desire : the theme of friendship in E.M. Forster's fiction

By Parminder Kaur Bakshi


This thesis places Forster's fiction in the homosexual\ud tradition of English literature and presents, for the\ud first time, a full exposition of the homoerotic motifs\ud in each of Forster's novels. Homoerotic desire has been\ud only partially recognized in Forster's texts, but as the\ud following chapters show the desire for male love is\ud pervasive and affects the structure and techniques of\ud Forster's writing.\ud Homoerotic desire in Forster's fiction attaches to\ud the ideal of friendship and the theme of friendship is\ud invariably connected with the metaphor of journey.\ud Forster uses the metaphor of journey to transport his\ud narratives beyond the confines of English middle-class\ud values to a region where relations between men are\ud acceptable.\ud A homosexual reading of Forster's texts has several\ud implications for his work. Firstly, it emerges that\ud Forster's novels are covert texts which convey the ideal\ud of male love evasively, by strategies of deferment and\ud delay. Secondly, the author's interest in another\ud country, Italy or India, is not for the sake of those\ud countries but allied to homoerotic desire. Lastly, for\ud all the apparent dissimilarities between them, all of\ud Forster's novels variously approach homoerotic desire;\ud the themes of journey and friendship are common to all\ud the novels.\ud The chapters of this thesis demonstrate the way\ud homoerotic desire operates in Forster's narratives. This\ud involves a close reading of the text and an alertness to\ud the novelist's manipulation of language. The thesis\ud reinterprets passages from Forster's novels that\ud previously have either been overlooked or dismissed as\ud obscure.\ud Forster's treatment of homoerotic love in all his\ud novels, except Maurice, is problematic. The narrator's\ud attempts to conceal the real tendency of his narratives\ud creates a tension between the explicit statements and\ud the undercurrents in his texts. The conflict is never\ud resolved, but it gives the novels the odd, peculiar\ud quality that is characteristic of Forster's writing.\ud Forster occupies a unique, if dubious position, in\ud English literature as a homosexual writer whose work has\ud been entirely assimilated into the mainstream,\ud heterosexual tradition

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