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The Life to Come: And Other Stories (1972)

de E. M. Forster

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Representing every phase of E. M. Forster's career as a writer, the fourteen stories in this book span six decades-from 1903 to 1957 or even later. Only two were published in his lifetime. Most of the other stories remained unpublished because of their overtly homosexual themes; instead they were shown to an appreciative circle of friends and fellow writers, including Christopher Isherwood, Siegfried Sassoon, Lytton Strachey, and T. E. Lawrence. The stories differ widely in mood and setting. One is a cheerful political satire; another has, most unusually for Forster, a historical setting; others give serious and powerful expression to some of Forster's profoundest concerns.… (més)
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Although primarily known for his novels, EM Forster (1879 - 1970) wrote several short stories, nearly half of which were not published during his lifetime. This collection brings to light 14 such stories, spanning six decades. Among them are some gems that certainly deserve to be recognized as part of Forster’s literary portfolio, and others of value for what they reveal about the author’s psyche and sexuality.

The short stories in The Life to Come fall into two categories by subject and chronology. The first group consists of five stories written between 1903 and 1906. These predate Forster’s recognition as a novelist, and only one (Albergo Empedocle) was originally published. Although some of these stories are forgettable, Ansell stands out for its melancholy humor, as a tragic- comic exploration of the incompatibility of academic values with values of the world at large. This is a theme that Forster revisited in his later published work.

Most stories of the second group deal with an adult theme -- male homosexuality. They were written between 1922 and 1958, and thus largely post-date Forster’s most fertile period as a novelist. Forster wrote these stories for his own entertainment and catharsis; he had no intention of exposing himself to the public disapproval (and prosecution for homosexuality) that they could have elicited, had their publication even been possible. Although Forster privately referred to his writings of this genre as “indecent,” by contemporary standards, these stories are mild and euphemistic. They are also depressing in tone; their common theme is the secrecy and danger entailed by the expression of homosexuality in a repressive culture. Among them, a few stand out as particularly engaging. Arthur Snatchfold , The Obelisk , and Doctor Woolacott are as good as any short stories he ever wrote.

This collection also includes Three Courses and a Dessert, a sequence of stories in which each of four authors (Christopher Dilke, Forster, AE Coppard, and James Laver) build on the story of their predecessor. Forster fans will be delighted by his own contribution, as well as James Laver’s surprise ending.

This short story collection seems likely to appeal to readers of two overlapping categories: those who have come to love EM Forster’s novels and other writings, and those who want to understand the sensitive human being behind this literary figure's mild - mannered, public persona. Those who know Forster only from fine works such as Howard’s End, A Passage to India, and the veiled, autobiographical The Longest Journey will discover explanations for the dynamic tensions and psychological conflict of his published work. ( )
10 vota danielx | Jul 19, 2008 |
The short stories are not my favorite thing ever; their view on being gay is often very depressing. Poor Forster. ( )
1 vota lysimache | Jul 5, 2007 |
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E. M. Forsterautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Stallybrass, OliverEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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Representing every phase of E. M. Forster's career as a writer, the fourteen stories in this book span six decades-from 1903 to 1957 or even later. Only two were published in his lifetime. Most of the other stories remained unpublished because of their overtly homosexual themes; instead they were shown to an appreciative circle of friends and fellow writers, including Christopher Isherwood, Siegfried Sassoon, Lytton Strachey, and T. E. Lawrence. The stories differ widely in mood and setting. One is a cheerful political satire; another has, most unusually for Forster, a historical setting; others give serious and powerful expression to some of Forster's profoundest concerns.

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