E.M. Forster, author of A Passage to India and Howard’s End, was 45 years old when he stopped writing novels. A novelist’s prime. He lived another 46 years. He wrote essays and journalism. But not a single novel. “More novels would have certainly made me better known,” he told the BBC in this documentary interview, below. “Somehow I dried up after The Passage. I wanted to write, but didn’t want to write novels. And that’s really too long a story. But I think one of the reasons why I stopped writing novels is that the social aspect of the world changed so very much. I’d been accustomed to write about the old vanished world with its homes and its family life, and its comparative peace. All that went. And though I can think about it, I cannot put it into fiction form.”
“My equipment is frightfully limited,” he wrote to a corrrespondent, “but so good in parts that I want to do with it what I can.”
“If the idolization of Forster as a holy man of letters was a bit extreme, the tart reassessments of his oeuvre, which followed in the wake of his death, no doubt went too far as well,” Michiko Kakutani wrote in The Times in 1984.
Watch him describe his limitations with a modesty and clarity rare for writers: