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Topic: A Room With A View Discussion Part 1

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Subject: A Room With A View Discussion Part 1
Date Posted: 3/6/2009 5:24 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Part 1 encompasses chapters 1-7

 

I found a few questions, etc. in an internet search. You may answer questions, pose questions, or post thoughts. All discussion welcome!

 

What were your first impressions of the book?

  

Chapter 5

 

Are these statements true (T) or false (F)? Mark them T or F

and then correct the false ones. Discuss their importance to the story.

 

(a) The Italian driver collects his sister to accompany him.

(b) Mr Eager is happy about the people in his carriage.

(c) Lucy wants to avoid George Emerson.

(d) Mr Emerson says separating the driver and the girl is a

victory.

(e) Miss Lavish laughs about George Emerson’s job.

(f) Miss Bartlett sees George Emerson kissing Lucy.

(g) Miss Bartlett is angry with Lucy on the way home in the

carriage.

(h) Lucy feels muddled about the trip to Fiesole.

Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 3/8/2009 9:04 AM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
Posts: 2,625
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I think I know all the true/false questions, except I can't remember if Miss Lavish laughed about George's job.

What struck me about the book is just how funny it is. I get the feeling that on top of the humor I am getting, there's a lot more flying over my head because society was very different 100 years ago in England. For instance, I think when Lucy is playing Beethoven on the piano, that's supposed to be a very funny scene, because Forster describes how she's playing it to some length. Didn't get it at all.

I loved Lucy describing herself as radical, and how her father voted for Gladstone, while trying to downplay that she's an upper middle-class kid whose family owns decent property in the English countryside.

I wish I understood better how scandalous a kiss was in reality 100 years ago - were Lucy and Miss Bartlett making a bigger deal about it than they needed to? That would add to the humor. I know Mr. Eager would overreact to a kiss. How radical was Mr. Emerson? In modern times, he appears as the only sane one. Was that what Forster intended? Or was he really out there, and was he supposed to be a 'delightful eccentric'?

Date Posted: 3/8/2009 4:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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Good observations Rick. I am enjoying the wry humor also. I believe the kiss was not quite as scandalous as Miss Bartlett made it out to be. I look at other writers in the same time period and they had bits of sexual innuendo and kissing in their books - Henry James, D.H. Lawrence, Baroness Orczy, Thomas Hardy, etc. 

The drive out to Fiesole had me chuckling through Chapter 6. "But, she's my sister!"

Too bad Mr. Emerson didn't succeed in his endeavor for the "sister" to remain with carriage.

"Leave them alone," Mr. Emerson begged the chaplain, of whom he stood in no awe. "Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there? To be driven by lovers-- A king might envy us, and if we part them it's more like sacrilege than anything I know."

 

Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 3/9/2009 3:57 PM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
Posts: 2,625
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I guess I kind of figured it wasn't a huge scandal, given that Forster was writing about it so freely.

One other humorous turn of phrase I remember - when (IIRC) a shopkeeper bails Lucy out of some social embarrassment - it was "the universal fraternity of youth" at work.

The witness of a murder in Florence seemed to actually cause less reverberation than it would in modern times - now the whole book would be about Lucy going to therapy for a while to talk about how seeing this stabbing would affect her forever.

Date Posted: 3/10/2009 10:36 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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This is the first sentence of Chapter 5:

It was a family saying that "you never knew which way Charlotte Bartlett would turn."

I wonder if it will have additional meaning at the end of the book?

The witness of a murder in Florence seemed to actually cause less reverberation than it would in modern times - now the whole book would be about Lucy going to therapy for a while to talk about how seeing this stabbing would affect her forever.

So true, Rick.

George endeared himself to me when he tossed the blood spattered pictures into the river. He was as discombobulated by the murder as Lucy but he was trying to put on such a brave front.



Last Edited on: 3/10/09 11:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/12/2009 7:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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I'm actually having kind of a hard time getting into this one.  George and his dad are so cool, it just burns me up the way everyone looks down on them.

Date Posted: 3/13/2009 11:10 AM ET
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How far are you Vanessa? For me, Howard's End was a little easier to get into than this one. Once I realized Forster was mocking some of the characters for their repressed (Edwardian?) beliefs, class snobbery, and attitudes, I enjoyed the book more.  

Date Posted: 3/13/2009 4:35 PM ET
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Ok, I've finished part 1 (chapters1 thru 7), and I'm up to the beginning of chapter 9.  Its funny because I really wanted to read this one, whereas I was a little put off by Howards End, but HE ended up grabbing me right away while RWAV has taken me a little while.  My main difficulty are my mixed feelings about Lucy.  There are times when I just want to tell her to grow a freaking backbone- which of course would have been totally out of character and contrary to the mores of the time.  But still, Forster shows her as a character with so much potential, although so far only Mr. Beebe seems to recognize it.  I don't think even the Emersons or Lucy herself know what she could be like if she tried to assert herself.

I know Forster is mocking the British tourists that Lucy meets in Florence, and it is funny at times, but its not all harmless hypocrisy.  Like in The Moonstone, the hypocritical characters are funny, but they don't really have any lasting negative effect on any of the other characters.  Even in Howard's End, although the Wilcoxes are look down on the Schlegels and treat them badly, it doesn't hurt the Schlegels (although it does have tragic results for another character).  Anyway, because George Emerson is portrayed as at least contemplating suicide, when the other tourists ignore and snub the Emersons its more serious, adding to the division between George and the world.

In the picnic scene, where Lucy comes upon George on the terrace, doesn't it seem like he might have been almost about to jump?  I read that scene over three times, partly because the language is so gorgeous, but also to try to interpret what was really going on, because Forster leaves it kind of ambiguous.  And then when Lucy is so concerned on the drive home, about George being killed, to me that showed that, at least on some level, she recognized his emotional state.

I think the most telling things that Forster has brought up so far are 1)the scene where Mr. Eager separates the two young lovers driving the carraige, which is almost exactly like Charlotte separating Lucy and George and 2) the quote in chapter 5 about "the ghoulish fashion in which respectable people will nibble after blood". I don't think Forster sees these people and their social restrictions as funny, even though he sometimes makes fun of them.  "Society" as I've seen it so far in RWAV is really quite cruel, and what drives me nuts is the way Lucy can't seem to decide if she wants to be apart of that cruelty or not.

Date Posted: 3/14/2009 9:55 AM ET
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I agree Vanessa, it is not all harmless hypocrisy - Forster is making a point of showing how ludicrous some of their behaviors and attitudes are, especially in contrast to the Italians. Good observation about George on the terrace.

While looking back over this section, this sentence popped out at me. Mr. Emerson said it shortly after they came across Lucy, after Miss Lavish had abandoned her while on their way to Santa Croce. Lucy did not believe propriety (thinking how Miss Bartlett would react) would allow her to join the two gentlemen:

"My dear," said the old man gently, "I think that you are repeating what you have heard older people say. You are pretending to be touchy; but you are not really. Stop being so tiresome, and tell me instead what part of the church you want to see. To take you to it will be a real pleasure."

 

Date Posted: 3/17/2009 2:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
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I concur with Vanessa and Sheila. I loved the comparing of the Italians to the British. I was smiling the entire time with Fiesole and his "sister". Forster's humor is quick and dry. It has taken me a little while to get it though. The Beethoven paragraphs I though were meant to be funny as well but that humor is lost on me. I just finished part one and I am looking forward to part 2.

Date Posted: 3/18/2009 11:37 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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Yay Michael! Glad you are joining us.