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Essays of EM Forster Critical Study Essay

Journal: International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR) (Vol.7, No. 8)

Publication Date:

Authors : ; ;

Page : 677-680

Keywords : Forster; Orwell; Cultural studies; Englishness; Other; Event; liberalism;

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This work engages with the novels of E. M. Forster and George Orwell from a cultural studies perspective, to explore the insights that the study of literature can offer to the study and theorisation of culture. It maintains that many of the challenges first formulated by Raymond Williams, Pierre Bourdieu, Alan Sinfield and Pierre Macherey remain unfulfilled, and might help reshape cultural studies, or at least reveal its limits. I approach Forster's and Orwell's novels through a socially-grounded close reading, to release them from the liberal-humanist conspectus within which they were produced and have continued to be predominantly received. Turning to what Pierre Macherey has called the work's `ideology', which percolated through these novels at the moment of production, I look for the stories they tell, but also (reading 'against the grain') for the stories they fail to tell. My analysis falls on three topics ? Englishness, imperialism and liberalism ? to reconstruct these authors' specific formation. I identify three different, but related, elements of `Englishness' its reliance on a series of cultural and social 'Others', its links to liberalism (in the form of 'a capacious liberalism'), its rootedness in capitalism. The construction of `Otherness', which manifests itself in a long chain of binary oppositions (such as, public/ private, masculine/feminine, rational/ emotional, elite/ mass), is not only at the centre of Forster's and Orwell's literary/political vision, but has been also replicated in the various identity-based post-modernist critiques of liberal-humanism. I displace this primacy, by complementing my reading with Alain Badiou's notion of 'event' and 'ethics of truth'. My concern is not with finding a label for these authors' politics, but with teasing out a set of elements and relations that helped to shape the 'criteria of plausibility' (Sinfield, 1992) that continues to define today's rather broad and deep-rooted liberal-democratic consensus.

Last modified: 2021-06-28 19:31:15