Reading Experience Database

Basic Search

Advanced Search

Record 21101

Reading Experience:

Passages quoted in E. M. Forster's Commonplace Book (1940) include remarks on value of cultural works for successive generations of civilised people from Lord Acton's Lecture on the Study of History ('A speech of Antigone, a single sentence of Socrates [...] come nearer to our lives than the ancestral wisdom of barbarians who fed their swine on the Hercynian acorns'). Forster responds with comment that 'Lord Acton is right, but [...] He forgot that that most people do not respond to culture or intellectual honesty [...] he appears to this generation as an old man lecturung in a cap and gown,' having also noted 'This afternoon (29-2-40) I was at Bishops Cross, where new born lambs were dying in the cold, and Hughie Waterson, a Nazi by temperament, was trying to save them [...] Him the ancestral wisdom inspired.' Forster goes on to quote, for comparison, eight lines from The Prelude XII (opening 'I could no more / Trust the elevation which had made me one / With the great family which still survives [...]', and three lines from Wordsworth's 'Sonnet on Napoleon' (beginning with 'The great events with which old story rings'), continuing with remark: 'I glanced at these two books of the Prelude to see whether Wordsworth's Imagination and Taste had been impaired in the same way as my own.'
Century: 1800-1849, 1900-1945
Date: Between 1 Feb 1940 and 31 Dec 1940
Country: n/a
Time: n/a
Place: n/a
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Edward Morgan Forster
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 1 Jan 1879
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: Writer
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: n/a
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: William Wordsworth
Title: 'Sonnet on Napoleon'
Genre: Poetry, Politics
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 21101  
Source - Print  
  Author: E. M. Forster
  Editor: Philip Gardner
  Title: Commonplace Book
  Place of Publication: London
  Date of Publication: 1985
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 117-119
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: E. M. Forster, Philip Gardner (ed.), Commonplace Book (London, 1985), p. 117-119,, accessed: 05 June 2023

Additional comments:



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)