Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Forster, E M

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(1879-1970) UK writer whose best-known works are novels like Howards End (1910) and A Passage to India (1924). In The Longest Journey (1907), not explicitly a Supernatural Fiction, the numerous sudden deaths and the constant (though imagined) incursions of a sexually ambivalent Pan generate a sense of achieved transcendence of the trammelled, mundane world. EMF's most famous single short story, "The Machine Stops" (1909), is sf; but a considerable proportion of the remainder – assembled in The Celestial Omnibus and Other Stories (coll 1911) and The Eternal Moment (coll 1928) – are supernatural fictions, several of them invoking Pan and Hermes, and most of them concerned to capture the Uncanny moment when a Threshold can be passed and transcendence gained. Hermes is a dominant figure throughout; in his introduction to The Collected Stories (coll 1947) EMF suggests that the volume could be dedicated to Hermes Psychopompus, "messenger, thief, and conductor of souls to a not too terrible hereafter". In "The Story of a Panic" (1904), an imperceptive narrator almost fails to register the transfigurative presence of the god; Pan also appears in "Other Kingdom" (1909). The guide who brings epiphanic fulfilment to a boy and death to a philistine in "The Celestial Omnibus" (1908) is Hermes. "The Point of It" (1911) is a Posthumous Fantasy whose protagonist is redeemed when he is allowed return to a single moment whose missed significance had shaped his life. [JC]

Edward Morgan Forster


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.