Inspiration and wisdom from divine felines

175 Inspiring Quotes by E. M. Forster

  • Last updated Jul 27 2021

Welcome to our collection of quotes by E. M. Forster.

Wikipedia Summary for E.M. Forster

Edward Morgan Forster (1 January 1879 – 7 June 1970) was an English fiction writer, essayist and librettist. Many of his novels examine class difference and hypocrisy, including A Room with a View (1908), Howards End (1910) and A Passage to India (1924). The last brought him his greatest success. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 16 separate years.


person sleeping on gray gang chair

Oxford is Oxford: not a mere receptacle for youth, like Cambridge. Perhaps it wants its inmates to love it rather than to love one another.

--E.M. Forster

tree frog

to descend from bright heaven to earth, whereon there are shadows because there are hills.

--E.M. Forster

yellow sunflowers

Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate.

--E.M. Forster


yellow, orange, red, green, and blue abstract painting

A novel must give a sense of permanence as well as a sense of life.

--E.M. Forster

body of water during daytime

There is much good luck in the world, but it is luck. We are none of us safe. We are children, playing or quarrelling on the line.

--E.M. Forster

silhouette photography of mountains

We may divide characters into flat and round.

--E.M. Forster

gray cactus plant on white pot

Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its highest. Live in fragments no longer.

--E.M. Forster

white and blue sky during daytime

The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.

--E.M. Forster

brown textile in close up image

Beauty ought to look a little surprised: it is the emotion that best suits her face. The beauty who does not look surprised, who accepts her position as her due -- she reminds us too much of a prima donna.

--E.M. Forster


blue sky with white clouds

Those who prepared for all the emergencies of life beforehand may equip themselves at the expense of joy.

--E.M. Forster

time lapse photography of lightning during storm

Personal relations are the important thing for ever and ever, and not this outer life of telegrams and anger.

--E.M. Forster

landscape photo of waters, mountains, and black clouds

Have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time -- beautiful?

--E.M. Forster


red white and black butterfly on green leaf

The traveller who has gone to Italy to study the tactile values of Giotto, or the corruption of the Papacy, may return remembering nothing but the blue sky and the men and women who live under it.

--E.M. Forster

blue boat on sand near body of water during daytime

Riposte of "that old lady in the anecdote who was accused by her nieces of being illogical," Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish! How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?

--E.M. Forster

sunset

Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown.

--E.M. Forster

Longer Version:

Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return.


green plants near body of water during daytime

The kingdom of music is not the kingdom of this world.

--E.M. Forster

Longer Version:

The kingdom of music is not the kingdom of this world; it will accept those whom breeding and intellect and culture have alike rejected.


purple petaled flower

How can I know what I think till I see what I say?

--E.M. Forster


pet dog sitting down on snow

Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish!

--E.M. Forster

brown wooden dock under night sky

I don't think literature will be purged until its philosophic pretentiousness is extruded, and I shant live to see that purge, nor perhaps when it has happened will anything survive.

--E.M. Forster

bird in the sky

If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

--E.M. Forster

man in black tank top standing near tree under starry night

Roger Fry is painting me. It is too like me at present, but he is confident he will be able to alter that. Post-Impressionism is at present confined to my lower lip... and to my chin.

--E.M. Forster

sunset

There is an aristocracy of the sensitive. They represent the true human tradition of permanent victory over cruelty and chaos.

--E.M. Forster

brown and gray stick

I am certainly an ought and not a must.

--E.M. Forster

None

I never could get on with representative individuals but people who existed on their own account and with whom it might therefore be possible to be friends.

--E.M. Forster



History develops, art stands still.

--E.M. Forster


forest trees photograph

To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.

--E.M. Forster

low angle photo of starry night

When you come back you will not be you. And I may not be I.

--E.M. Forster

blue sky with stars during night time

My law-givers are Erasmus and Montaigne, not Moses and St Paul.

--E.M. Forster

beach during daytime

For it is a serious thing to have been watched. We all radiate something curiously intimate when we believe ourselves to be alone.

--E.M. Forster

blue and white painted wall

And I do believe that Italy really purifies and ennobles all who visit her. She is the school as well as the playground of the world.

--E.M. Forster

adobe wall

The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.

--E.M. Forster

white and black bird

Mistrust all enterprises that require new clothes.

--E.M. Forster

woman singing on stage

Standing each by his monster, they looked at each other, and smiled.

--E.M. Forster

red rose illustration

All men are equal -- all men, that is to say, who possess umbrellas.

--E.M. Forster

white and blue building under clear sky

When love flies it is remembered not as love but as something else. Blessed are the uneducated, who forget it entirely, and are never conscious of folly or pruriency in the past, of long aimless conversations.

--E.M. Forster

close-up photography of heart shaped fairy lite on brown sand

The sadness of the incomplete, the sadness that is often Life, but should never be Art.

--E.M. Forster


purple flower on purple textile

Tolerance is a very dull virtue. It is boring. Unlike love, it has always had a bad press. It is negative. It merely means putting up with people, being able to stand things.

--E.M. Forster

yellow sunflower in bloom during daytime

The more highly public life is organized the lower does its morality sink.

--E.M. Forster

elephants on green grass field during daytime

Only a struggle twists sentimentality and lust together into love.

--E.M. Forster

blue and white water waves

You talk as if a god had made the Machine," cried the other. "I believe that you pray to it when you are unhappy. Men made it, do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but not everything.

--E.M. Forster


gray concrete surface

It is so difficult -- at least, I find it difficult -- to understand people who speak the truth.

--E.M. Forster

four person standing beside wall

For you cannot have gentility without paying for it.

--E.M. Forster

group of penguins standing on white snow covered ground near body of water during daytime

Reverence is fatal to literature.

--E.M. Forster

silhouette photography of mountains

The so called white races are really pinko-grey.

--E.M. Forster

Arizona landscape

Il vento le scompigliava i capelli, il sole li glorificava.

--E.M. Forster

brown and gray brick wall

The most successful career must show a waste of strength that might have removed mountains, and the most unsuccessful is not that of the man who is taken unprepared, but of him who has prepared and is never taken.

--E.M. Forster

yellow sunflower in bloom during daytime

I'm a holy man minus the holiness.

--E.M. Forster

Longer Version:

I'm a holy man minus the holiness. Hand that on to your three spies, and tell them to put it in their pipes.




water on seashore

Men yearn for poetry though they may not confess it; they desire that joy shall be graceful and sorrow august and infinity have a form.

--E.M. Forster

landscape photo of waters, mountains, and black clouds

There lies at the back of every creed something terrible and hard for which the worshipper may one day be required to suffer.

--E.M. Forster



green ceramic mug on wooden desk

I have always found writing pleasant and don't understand what people mean by 'throes of creation.'

--E.M. Forster




two children holding hands while walking in the middle of the fields

They had nothing in common but the English language.

--E.M. Forster


white stars in the sky during night time

I won't be protected. I will choose for myself what is ladylike and right. To shield me is an insult.

--E.M. Forster

silhouette of mountain under blue sky during daytime

And don't, let me beg you, go with that awful tourist idea that Italy's only a museum of antiquities and art. Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvellous than the land.

--E.M. Forster


brown mountain on body of water

One's favorite book is as elusive as one's favorite pudding.

--E.M. Forster


cat with flower

Liking one person is an extra reason for liking another.

--E.M. Forster

person wearing red running shoe

I hated the idleness, the stupidity, the respectability, the petty unselfishness.

--E.M. Forster


None

It is easy to face Death and Fate, and the things that sound so dreadful. It is on my muddles that I look back with horror -- on thethings that I might have avoided.

--E.M. Forster

red rose

Outside the arch, always there seemed another arch. And beyond the remotest echo, a silence.

--E.M. Forster


rock formation above water

I have no mystic faith in the people. I have in the individual.

--E.M. Forster

white stars in the sky during night time

The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then queen died of grief is a plot.

--E.M. Forster

pink and green flower painting

Axiom : Novel must have either one living character or a perfect pattern: fails otherwise.

--E.M. Forster

lion on green grass during golden hour

Pathos, piety, courage, they exist, but are identical, and so is filth. Everything exists, nothing has value.

--E.M. Forster

body of water

As her time in Florence drew to a close she was only at ease amongst those to whom she felt indifferent.

--E.M. Forster

pink petaled flowers under trees at daytime

A critic has no right to the narrowness which is the frequent prerogative of the creative artist.

--E.M. Forster

tree and pink sky painting

Do not be proud of your inconsistency. It is a pity, it is a pity that we should be equipped like this. It is a pity that Man cannot be at the same time impressive and truthful.

--E.M. Forster

silhouette of grass under moonlight

Unless we remember we cannot understand.

--E.M. Forster

pink and blue painted wall

Their quarrel was no more surprising than are most quarrels -- inevitable at the time, incredible afterwards.

--E.M. Forster

elephants on green grass field during daytime

The bully and his victim never quite forget their first relations.

--E.M. Forster

three people paddling in canoe

English literature is a flying fish.

--E.M. Forster

selective focus photography of Russian Blue cat

In the creative state a man is taken out of himself.

--E.M. Forster

Longer Version:

In the creative state a man is taken out of himself. He lets down as it were a bucket into his subconscious, and draws up something which is normally beyond his reach. He mixes this thing with his normal experiences and out of the mixture he makes a work of art.



man with LED headlight looking upward

There's never any great risk as long as you have money.

--E.M. Forster

group of people inside the room in grayscale photo

Charm, in most men and nearly all women, is a decoration.

--E.M. Forster


sunset

If there is on earth a house with many mansions, it is the house of words.

--E.M. Forster

gray concrete surface

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man.

--E.M. Forster

photo of brown parquet

No one is more triumphant than the man who chooses a worthy subject and masters all its facts.

--E.M. Forster

beach during daytime

The final test for a novel will be our affection for it, as it is the test of our friends, and of anything else which we cannot define.

--E.M. Forster



grayscale photography of man riding bicycle

Human relations are impossible. When they are real they are uncomfortable, and when they are comfortable they are unreal. It was for the journey into solitude that the human soul was created.

--E.M. Forster

black and gray floral textile

Characters must not brood too long. They must not waste time running up and down ladders in their own insides.

--E.M. Forster

silhouette of pine trees photo

The main facts in human life are five: birth, food, sleep, love and death.

--E.M. Forster



landscape photo of mountain during nighttime

Reformers who are obsessed with purity and cannot see that their obsession is impure.

--E.M. Forster

None

We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand.

--E.M. Forster

star sequins on white platform

Our life on earth is, and ought to be, material and carnal. But we have not yet learned to manage our materialism and carnality properly; they are still entangled with the desire for ownership.

--E.M. Forster

man and woman kissing

We are all like Scheherazade's husband, in that we want to know what happens next.

--E.M. Forster

sunset

Life is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.

--E.M. Forster





calm ocean

I am so used to seeing the sort of play which deals with one man and two women. They do not leave me with the feeling I have made a full theatrical meal they do not give me the experience of the multiplicity of life.

--E.M. Forster

bird in the sky

Love is a great force in private life; it is indeed the greatest of all things; but love in public affairs does not work.

--E.M. Forster

white and black floral textile

There are moments when the inner life actually 'pays,' when years of self-scrutiny, conducted for no ulterior motive, are suddenly of practical use.

--E.M. Forster

person holding sunflower

I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.

--E.M. Forster

full moon in the sky

Do you suppose there's any difference between spring in nature and spring in man? But there we go, praising the one and condemning the other as improper, ashamed that the same laws work eternally through both.

--E.M. Forster

pink flower

Two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism.

--E.M. Forster

aerial photography of pine trees with mist

Letters have to pass two tests before they can be classed as good: they must express the personality both of the writer and of the recipient.

--E.M. Forster

None

She only felt that the candle would burn better, the packing go easier, the world be happier, if she could give and receive some human love.

--E.M. Forster

white pendant lamp

Oh, poor, poor fellow!' said Mrs. Elliot with a remorse that was sincere, though her congratulations would not have been.

--E.M. Forster

landscape photo of mountain during nighttime

Excuse my mistakes, realize my limitations. Life is not easy as we know it on the earth.

--E.M. Forster

trees on forest with sun rays

Truth is a flower in whose neighbourhood others must wither.

--E.M. Forster

Arizona landscape

But why I cry out against Rubens is because he painted undressed people instead of naked ones.

--E.M. Forster

high-angle photography of beach side

We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.

--E.M. Forster


time lapse photography body of water

It comes to this then: there always have been people like me and always will be, and generally they have been persecuted.

--E.M. Forster

shallow focus photography of white flowers

The kingdom of music is not the kingdom of this world.

--E.M. Forster

white desk lamp beside green plant

It so happened that Lucy, who found daily life rather chaotic, entered a more solid world when she opened the piano. She was then no longer either deferential or patronizing; no longer either a rebel or a slave.

--E.M. Forster


aerial photography of beach

Lord I disbelieve -- help thou my unbelief.

--E.M. Forster

selective photography of green leaf plant

One of the evils of money is that it tempts us to look at it rather than at the things that it buys.

--E.M. Forster


yellow flower in green grass field

Suspense: the only literary tool that has any effect upon tyrants and savages.

--E.M. Forster


sunset

I would rather be a coward than brave because people hurt you when you are brave.

--E.M. Forster

white and blue ice in water

One doesn't come to Italy for niceness," was the retort; "one comes for life. Buon giorno! Buon giorno!

--E.M. Forster

green grass field

A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself.

--E.M. Forster

white and blue floral textile

The English countryside, its growth and its destruction, is a genuine and tragic theme.

--E.M. Forster

cluster of stars in the sky

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

--E.M. Forster

brown and grey trees and rock formation painting

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

--E.M. Forster

sunset

The crime of suicide lies rather in its disregard for the feelings of those whom we leave behind.

--E.M. Forster


white rose enclosed photograph

At the moment they vanished they were everywhere, the cool benediction of the night descended, the stars sparkled, and the whole universe was a hill.

--E.M. Forster

silver round analog wall clock

But nothing in India is identifiable, the mere asking of a question causes it to disappear or to merge in something else.

--E.M. Forster

pavement surrounded with dried leaves

Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.

--E.M. Forster

silhouette of children's running on hill

Most quarrels are inevitable at the time; incredible afterwards.

--E.M. Forster

Arizona landscape rocks

This element of surprise or mystery the detective element as it is sometimes rather emptily called is of great importance in a plot.

--E.M. Forster

Longer Version:

This element of surprise or mystery -- the detective element as it is sometimes rather emptily called -- is of great importance in a plot. It occurs through a suspension of the time-sequence; a mystery is a pocket in time, and it occurs crudely, as in "Why did the queen die?" and more subtly in half-explained gestures and words, the true meaning of which only dawns pages ahead. Mystery is essential to a plot, and cannot be appreciated without intelligence.


green leaf

What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote.

--E.M. Forster

brown rocky mountain under gray sky

A work of art is never finished. It is merely abandoned.

--E.M. Forster

brown rock formation

One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.

--E.M. Forster


shallow focus photography of stack of books

It isn't possible to love and to part.

--E.M. Forster

time lapse photography body of water

The work of art assumes the existence of the perfect spectator, and is indifferent to the fact that no such person exists.

--E.M. Forster


silhouette of praying man

The book A Passage to India shows signs of fatigue and disillusionment; but it has chapters of clear and triumphant beauty, and above all it makes us wonder, what will he write next?

--E.M. Forster

focus photo of a hummingbird on leaf

It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness.

--E.M. Forster

Longer Version:

It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness, to think that a thousand square miles are a thousand times more wonderful than one square mile, and that a million square miles are almost the same as heaven.


None

She stopped and leant her elbows against the parapet of the embankment. He did likewise. There is at times a magic in identity of position; it is one of the things that have suggested to us eternal comradeship.

--E.M. Forster



red rose illustration

Only a writer who has the sense of evil can make goodness readable.

--E.M. Forster


Arizona landscape

I have only got down on to paper, really, three types of people: the person I think I am, the people who irritate me, and the people I'd like to be.

--E.M. Forster

sunset

People have their own deaths as well as their own lives, and even if there is nothing beyond death, we shall differ in our nothingness.

--E.M. Forster

blue sky with stars during night time

Self-pity? I see no moral objections to it, the smell drives people away, but that's a practical objection, and occasionally an advantage.

--E.M. Forster


sealion surrounded by rocks during daytime

They cared for no one, they were outside humanity, and death, had it come, would only have continued their pursuit of a retreating horizon.

--E.M. Forster

white and blue floral textile

The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society was eternal.

--E.M. Forster

bird's eye view of desert

Science explained people, but could not understand them. After long centuries among the bones and muscles it might be advancing to knowledge of the nerves, but this would never give understanding.

--E.M. Forster


white paint palette with black paint beside ink bottle and paint brush

Nonsense and beauty have close connections.

--E.M. Forster

black and white window illustration

A novel must give a sense of permanence as well as a sense of life.

--E.M. Forster

We wish you a perfect day!