The Eternal Moment and Other Stories



A Collection That Explores The Human Spirit Through A Series Of Fantasy VignettesThe Eternal Moment and Other Stories

Edward Morgan Forster, generally published as E.M Forster, was an novelist, essayist, and short story writer He is known best for his ironic and well plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th century British society His humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be aptly summed up in the epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End Only connect.He had five novels published in his lifetime, achieving his greatest success with A Passage to India 1924 which takes as its subject the relationship between East and West, seen through the lens of India in the later days of the British Raj Forster s views as a secular humanist are at the heart of his work, which often depicts the pursuit of personal connections in spite of the restrictions of contemporary society He is noted for his use of symbolism as a technique in his novels, and he has been criticised for his attachment to mysticism His other works include Where Angels Fear to Tread 1905 , The Longest Journey 1907 , A Room with a View 1908 and Maurice 1971 , his posthumously published novel which tells of the coming of age of an explicitly gay male character.

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  • Paperback
  • 132 pages
  • The Eternal Moment and Other Stories
  • E.M. Forster
  • English
  • 21 September 2018
  • 0156291258

10 thoughts on “The Eternal Moment and Other Stories

  1. says:

    This was an intriguing collection The first story The Machine Stops seemed familiar and yes, I had read it before probably a couple of decades ago in The Science Fiction Century and it s a prophetic bit of scifi very timely in our recent isolation experience It s ultimately about the increasing reliance on technology and the neglect of nature Quite amazing for a story written in 1909 The next three stories concern the point of life and the nature of religion, heaven and hell The Story This was an intriguing collection The first story The Machine Stops seemed familiar and yes, I had read it before probably a couple of decades ago in The Science Fiction Century and it s a prophetic bit of scifi very timely in our recent isolation experience It s ultimately about the increasing reliance on technology and the neglect of nature Quite amazing for a story written in 1909 The next three stories concern the point of life and the nature of religion, heaven and hell The Story of the Siren was probably the weakest story for me, a dark fantasy of the effects of a sea siren on those who see her The last and title story is not fantasy at all, but a musing on the effects of tourism on a town popularised in a book, very clever and also the only story that really touches on class An interesting read

  2. says:

    Beware of first hand ideas exclaimed one of the most advanced of them First hand ideas do not really exist They are but the physical impressions produced by love and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy Let your ideas be second hand, and if possible tenth hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element direct observation Do not learn anything about this subject of mine the French Revolution Learn instead what I think that Enicharmon thou Beware of first hand ideas exclaimed one of the most advanced of them First hand ideas do not really exist They are but the physical impressions produced by love and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy Let your ideas be second hand, and if possible tenth hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element direct observation Do not learn anything about this subject of mine the French Revolution Learn instead what I think that Enicharmon though Urizen thought Gutch thought Ho Yung though Chi Bo Sing thought Lafcadio Hearn thought Carlyle thought Mirabeau said about the French Revolution Through the medium of these eight great minds, the blood that was shed at Paris and the windows that were broken at Versailles will be clarified to an idea which you may employ most profitably in your daily lives But be sure that the intermediates are many and varied, for in history one authority exists to counteract another Urizen must counteract the scepticism of Ho Yung and Encharimon, I must myself counteract the impetuosity of Gutch You who listen to me are in a better position to judge about the French Revolution than I am Your descendants will be even in a better position than you, for they will learn what you think I think, and yet another intermediate will be added to the chain And in time his voice rose there will come a generation that has got beyond facts, beyond impressions, a generation absolutely colourless, a generation seraphically freeFrom taint of personality, which will see the French Revolution not as it happened, nor as they would have liked it to have happened, but as it would have happened, had it taken place in the days of the Machine The Machine Stops, pp 27 28

  3. says:

    The Eternal Moment and other stories , is an early collection of short stories by the English author E M Forster first published in 1928 The individual stories within the collection areThe Eternal Moment The Machine Stopslink here to my separate reviewThe Point of It Mr Andrews Co ordination The Story of the Siren E M Forster wrote five major novels, many essays and critical works, and also some collections of short stories All his early fiction is predominantly concerned withThe Eternal Moment and other stories , is an early collection of short stories by the English author E M Forster first published in 1928 The individual stories within the collection areThe Eternal Moment The Machine Stopslink here to my separate reviewThe Point of It Mr Andrews Co ordination The Story of the Siren E M Forster wrote five major novels, many essays and critical works, and also some collections of short stories All his early fiction is predominantly concerned with society in the first half of the 20th century His tone is largely ironic, as he concentrates on class differences, seeking to expose the hypocrisy which he saw as rifeThe Eternal Moment This longish story is similar in feel toA Passage to India , in that it describes the personal mental and emotional journey of its central character, as much as her literal journey in the Italian Alps By the end the destination is reached, both physically, and in the sense of her inward revelations about herself.A common motif in Forster s works, is that of a long remembered fleeting experience, which affects an individual s later life farthan could ever be expected at the time There is such a pivotal moment in this story, around which the story forms itself The central character, Miss Raby, is a successful novelist, yet feels unsatisfied in her emotional life, and distanced from all her social peers She pays only lip service to the middle class attitudes and behaviour of those around her, frequently making comments, or behaving in a manner which startles her friendsIt was her habit to speak out and there was no present passion to disturb or prevent her She was still detached And by speaking out she believed, pathetically enough, that she was making herself intelligible Her remark seemed inexpressively coarse to Colonel Leyland In this quotation, the author s clinical eye is clear He views both his main character, and the circles in which she moves, with equal detachment Here is another time when Forster reveals another common feature or preoccupation the rigid boundaries of a particular social class,she had hurt him too much she had exposed her thoughts and desires to a man of another class Not only she, but he himself and all their equals, were degraded by it In the story, the ageing Miss Reby has returned to the setting of the first novel she had written It is an obscure Italian mountain village, which she is shocked to now find entirely different The village has been irrevocably changed, through the subsequent tourism, due to the success of her novel Her fond memories are quashed by what she now perceives as ugliness and vulgarity But she still has one special moment which she cherishes, concerning a youthful flirtation This perfectEternal Momentof the title has informed all her subsequent experiences, although it was merely an elusive momentary experience Forster s significant moments such as these, are often very subtle and undefined Miss Raby has constantly reflected on this special moment, building into it great significance for her own life experience She is disillusioned and shocked to now encounter the man who had inspired such a beautiful memory, and to see the person and the moment with a new devastating perspective Yet, on consideration, she feels she has learnt a great truth, by having this later experience, and thereby recognising the worth of her spontaneous joy and genuine feeling,In that moment of final failure, there had been vouchsafed to her a vision of herself and she saw that she had lived worthily She was conscious of a triumph over experience and earthly facts, a triumph magnificent, cold, hardly human, whose existence no one but herself would ever surmise One event near the ending, comes as a surprise, a spontaneous gesture from one of the characters, outside the expectations and predictability of their class This also is a favourite device of Forster s and gives the reader pause for thought, where other characters are often represented as puppets, entirely controlled by their status in the social classThe Point of It This is a much slighter tale, concerning two young men, Michael and Harold Michael is staid and stodgy even as a youth, and is destined to have a boring unfulfilled life The story starts,I don t see the point of it said Micky, through much imbecile laughter His friend Harold is a risk taker, who is enthusiastically pushing himself beyond endurance, fighting the elements joyfully as he rows his boat The story goes on to describe Michael s long monotonous life, andThe Point of It , is what he will not perceive until his life is over Forster depicts a view of the other side, in this story what will happen to his characters after death, and what meanings and significance they will take from itMr AndrewsThis short story goes a step further and actually concerns the souls of two men One is a Christian, Mr Andrews, and the other, who is calledthe Turkthroughout, is a Muslim As their souls move towards eternal life, they discuss their previous lives As they do so, each becomesconvinced that the other s life contravened all the behaviours which would be necessary for them to be admitted to Heaven When they reach the Gates of Heaven, view spoiler each is filled with sympathy and concern for the other s salvation, and spontaneously cries out an appeal for their new friend They are allowed in hide spoiler.Inside Heaven are all manner of gods,Buddha, and Vishnu, and Allah, and Jehovah, and the Elohim He saw little ugly determined gods who were worshipped by a few savages in the same way There were cruel gods there were gods who were peevish or deceitful or vulgar No aspiration of humanity was unfulfilled There was even an intermediate state for those who wished it, and for the Christian Scientists a place where they could demonstrate that they had not died The irony of their life in heaven is that neither is as happy there, even with all their expectations and desires fulfilled, as they were when each thought only of the otherCo ordination This atongue in cheek story, a satire on a too rigid Educational ethos It concerns a Miss Haddon, a school teacher, whose Principal informs all the teachers that they are to teach a newCo ordinative systemThey are all to teach the same subject, Napoleon, by the same system Thus Miss Haddon, as a music teacher, is to teach theEroica symphony , which had been begun in Napoleon s honour.Up in Heaven Beethoven is surprised by all the new interest in his symphony, as are all the other souls whose works are being studied The lower orders in Heaven assure them that the works are interpreted with sensitivity and insight But the schoolgirls,settled down gloomily They were already bored to tears by the new systemThey easily become distracted, succumbing to the temptation to dance and join in with a passing band Miss Haddon meanwhile has become entranced when she put a conch shell to her ear to listen The head teacher also has an other worldly experience when she puts the shell to her ear.This is another concern of E M Forster, a deeper belief, associated with his interest in Mediterranean paganism He believed that if individuals were to achieve satisfaction in their lives, they needed to both keep contact with the earth, and also to cultivate their imaginations As the story develops, all the teachers and pupils disregard the new ideas, larking around and generally having a good time together, partying and playing games The Principal claims,I was obliged to take it up, because that sort of thing impresses the Board of Education , to much hilarity and joy.The final part is set in Heaven, where Mephistopheles is convinced that there is no co ordination on Earth, and that he has therefore won his case against the angel Raphael There is a satisfying and in this case predictable twistThe Story of the Siren This is the most abstruse of these stories Several of these stories have included symbols the characters Michael and Harold themselves are really symbols for action and joy as opposed to passivity and dullness.This story tells the tale of a young man who has seen a siren living deep in the sea He marries a girl who also has seen her The people believe that their child will reveal the siren to everybody, bringing her out of the sea, todestroy silence and save the worldHowever a priest insists view spoiler that the girl is pushed into the sea to be drowned Therefore the child, a potential saviour of the world, is never allowed to be born hide spoiler It is difficult to fathom the meaning behind this story E M Forster was very concerned with spiritual ideas Some of his ancestors had been members of a social reform group within the Church of England He was also interested in Eastern religions Forster s experience of the different religions he came across during his time in India, his interest in paganism, his fear that a deliberate exaggeration of imagination could undermine an individual s sense of reality all these thoughts played into his explorations here, where he points out the dangers of a distorted perspective One interpretation could be that it would require a revolution in values, a casting out of old traditional theologies, in order to achieve perfect harmony with Nature Only then might come the emergence of a new man, or possibly a saviour This is an interesting collection, and in these stories a reader can discern many of the same themes which E M Forster is concerned with in his longer novels His early experiences in life, as with so many writers, go some way to explaining his later influences and preoccupations.E M Forster s father, who had died when he was a baby, had been strongly evangelical with a highly developed sense of moral responsibility His mother, however, wasopen and relaxed Although she had brought him up, his paternal aunts were also very influential So the young Forster had experienced plenty of tensions in his early domestic life, and he became adept at transcribing these into his written works It also meant that he was particularly sensitive, for the society of the time, to the importance of women in their own right The reflective, unusual stories here, reveal that their author was concerned to break with rigid conformity and to shake off the shackles of Victorianism Forster had been a day pupil at a private boarding school in Tonbridge, Kent, for instance, and this time made him extremely critical of the English Public School system His experiences in India, surrounded by different religions, coupled with his earlier schooling, resulted in his view that a certain amount of scepticism was healthy

  4. says:

    The Eternal Moment is on the longish side for a short story It is similar in feel toA Passage to India , in that it describes the personal mental and emotional journey of its central character, as much as her literal journey in the Italian Alps By the end the destination is reached, both physically, and in the sense of her inward revelations about herself.A common motif in Forster s works, is that of a long remembered fleeting experience, which affects an individual s later life fartha The Eternal Moment is on the longish side for a short story It is similar in feel toA Passage to India , in that it describes the personal mental and emotional journey of its central character, as much as her literal journey in the Italian Alps By the end the destination is reached, both physically, and in the sense of her inward revelations about herself.A common motif in Forster s works, is that of a long remembered fleeting experience, which affects an individual s later life farthan could ever be expected at the time There is such a pivotal moment in this story, around which the story forms itself The central character, Miss Raby, is a successful novelist, yet feels unsatisfied in her emotional life, and distanced from all her social peers She pays only lip service to the middle class attitudes and behaviour of those around her, frequently making comments, or behaving in a manner which startles her friendsIt was her habit to speak out and there was no present passion to disturb or prevent her She was still detached And by speaking out she believed, pathetically enough, that she was making herself intelligible Her remark seemed inexpressively coarse to Colonel Leyland In this quotation, the author s clinical eye is clear He views both his main character, and the circles in which she moves, with equal detachment Here is another time when Forster reveals another common feature or preoccupation the rigid boundaries of a particular social class,she had hurt him too much she had exposed her thoughts and desires to a man of another class Not only she, but he himself and all their equals, were degraded by it In the story, the ageing Miss Reby has returned to the setting of the first novel she had written It is an obscure Italian mountain village, which she is shocked to now find entirely different The village has been irrevocably changed, through the subsequent tourism, due to the success of her novel Her fond memories are quashed by what she now perceives as ugliness and vulgarity But she still has one special moment which she cherishes, concerning a youthful flirtation This perfectEternal Momentof the title has informed all her subsequent experiences, although it was merely an elusive momentary experience Forster s significant moments such as these, are often very subtle and undefined Miss Raby has constantly reflected on this special moment, building into it great significance for her own life experience She is disillusioned and shocked to now encounter the man who had inspired such a beautiful memory, and to see the person and the moment with a new devastating perspective Yet, on consideration, she feels she has learnt a great truth, by having this later experience, and thereby recognising the worth of her spontaneous joy and genuine feeling,In that moment of final failure, there had been vouchsafed to her a vision of herself and she saw that she had lived worthily She was conscious of a triumph over experience and earthly facts, a triumph magnificent, cold, hardly human, whose existence no one but herself would ever surmise One event near the ending, comes as a surprise, a spontaneous gesture from one of the characters, outside the expectations and predictability of their class This also is a favourite device of Forster s and gives the reader pause for thought, where other characters are often represented as puppets, entirely controlled by their status in the social class The Eternal Moment is from the volume on my shelvesCollected Short Stories volume 2

  5. says:

    Of the six stories presented here, the title story struck me as very good, Co ordination as all right, two others, Mr Andrews and The Story of the Siren, as so so, and the first two in the collection The Machine Stops and The Point of It as entirely too obvious in their separate purposes and almost tiresome The Machine Stops is one of those dystopian tales that can t get out of its own way, telegraphing both meaning and conclusion from almost the first page In the far future, hum Of the six stories presented here, the title story struck me as very good, Co ordination as all right, two others, Mr Andrews and The Story of the Siren, as so so, and the first two in the collection The Machine Stops and The Point of It as entirely too obvious in their separate purposes and almost tiresome The Machine Stops is one of those dystopian tales that can t get out of its own way, telegraphing both meaning and conclusion from almost the first page In the far future, humanity has rendered the Earth s surface uninhabitable and so humanity has built cities underground, with a nearly omnipotent machine responsible for every aspect of life In this way, it prefigures the Matrix movies, except that here humanity has come to worship the Machine People have fallen out of the habit of direct interaction, a point which leads to one of this story s characteristically heavy handed moments When Vashti swerved away from the sunbeams with a cry, the air ship attendant behaved barbarically she put out her hand to steady her How dare you the passenger exclaimed You forget yourself The woman was confused, and apologised for not having let her fall People never touched one another The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine.Forster should have stopped at let her fall, and allowed the reader to infer the rest Instead, he hammers away, here and elsewhere in the story, as if the light touch he displays in his novels has abandoned him here.He s back on his game with The Eternal Moment, writing about an elderly novelist visiting an Italian village made famous by her first, most successful novel, documenting her increasing dismay at the changes she inadvertently wrought there, particularly in the case of a man who had once worked for her as a porter In fact, an early description of this man, in his role as porter long ago to the novelist, is classic Forster Hitherto he had known his place But he was too cheap he gave usthan our money s worth That, as you know, is an ominous sign in a low born person The wry turn of phrase, verging on the epigrammatic, that conveys information about both the speaker and the one spoken of, this to me is vintage Forster

  6. says:

    Eerie how some of these stories predict the world we are living in today Worth reading and always a pleasure to read Forsyer.

  7. says:

    Prescient.

  8. says:

    While I do not agree with Forster s worldview, his stories are thought provoking, and his characters often pose the questions with which humanists continually struggle.

  9. says:

    These are some decent stories It s interesting to see Forster in short form, only having read A Passage to India Solid writing, bot overblown Wouldn t mind checking out .

  10. says:

    Sep 09 i discovered a bunch of my What Do I Read Nextreviews from the mid 90s when i was on a serious SF canon reading tear and, apparently, averse to capital letters According to a very brief introduction, this volume along with Celestial Omnibus encompasses all that Forster is likely to accomplish in a particular line i initially assumed that the particular line meant fantastical fiction, but after reading the title story, i m guessingSep 09 i discovered a bunch of my What Do I Read Nextreviews from the mid 90s when i was on a serious SF canon reading tear and, apparently, averse to capital letters According to a very brief introduction, this volume along with Celestial Omnibus encompasses all that Forster is likely to accomplish in a particular line i initially assumed that the particular line meant fantastical fiction, but after reading the title story, i m guessinglike stories concerned mainly and overtly with the definition of what it means to be human i later thought that maybe Forster meant idea fiction stories in which a concept, not character, drives the plot The book includes the now canonical science fiction novella, The Machine Stops synopsis below the cute and telling afterlife fable Mr Andrews a bizarre story entitled Co ordination that includes the interloping heaven dwellers Beethoven and Napoleon in what i can only guess must be a highly topical story joke about English educational practices at the turn of the 20th century the title story about a female novelist s return to the setting of her first novel a culture clash story through and through nothing fantastical here and a few i haven t bothered to read too sick of the English fascination with class The Machine Stops takes place on a future Earth, one in which humans have devastated the surface of the planet and constructed a huge womb hive underground The Machine this machine provides each individual with everything required for survival in a neat hexagonal room out from which we never need venture it also has led to some disheartening evolutionary developments the only two people we really meet are Kuno and his mother Vashti Kuno is an explorer and iconoclast Vashti a conformist recluse and an expert on ancient music considering the beautiful way in which Forster establishes the society and its culture step by step and then destroys it in the stroke of a pen, one can t help but wonder if he didn t rush to end this story too caught up, perhaps, in the zeal of his Message typical techno phobic morality play that d be a harsh judgment of an entertaining, well written tale

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