An Anti-Imperial Mythology

The Radical Vision of Howards End

in Critical Survey
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Abstract

Critics have read Howards End as if Forster ‘specifically barred’ the poor from the novel (Trilling), so that only the middle classes are considered and not in a ‘truly radical’ way (Crews). Yet Forster does, after all, concern himself with the very poor in his depiction of Leonard Bast, Jacky and other characters, and extensively in the thoughts of Margaret. Furthermore, he creates the myth he says England lacks, and, considered in relationship to the main narrative events and to the novel's imagery, this takes the form of an anti-imperialist mythology. Mythic elements include epic journeys and battles, a symbolic sword and tree, a sacrificial death and a redemptive child. In the novel's poetic passages and in its account of Margaret's education on the ‘hard road of Henry's soul’, the nature of England's imperialism is revealed and defeated by an alternative radical and feminist vision of society.

Contributor Notes

Charles Campbell has taught English and American literature in Canada and in various Middle Eastern countries. Recent publications take up the topics of ‘the veil of imperial discourse’ over the death of Lady Diana Spencer, and modernist misreadings of A Passage to India. His essay ‘Simulation, Fetishism and World Domination: Using Baudrillard to Analyze American Discourse’ will appear in the Fall issue of Critical Survey.