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Forster: A Room With a View

4. Physical and Metaphysical

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In this module, we think about the physical and the metaphysical in the novel, and the relationships between them, focusing in particular on the strange blending of the real and unreal as Lucy stands in the Piazza della Signoria at sunset, Lucy's witnessing of the murder, and the use of the strange phrase 'across something'.


In this course, Professor Max Saunders (King's College, London) explores E. M. Forster's 1908 novel, A Room With a View. The course begins by thinking about the importance of guides and guidebooks in the novel, focusing in particular on the faulty guidebook that Lucy uses to explore the artwork of Florence. After that, in the second and third modules, we think about the importance of touch in the novel, first in terms of the 'tactile values' of Renaissance art, and then in terms of the 'undeveloped hearts' of Forster's characters. In the fourth module, we turn to the presentation of the physical and metaphysical in the novel – focusing in particular on Lucy's experiences in the Piazza della Signoria in Chapter 4 – before moving on in the fifth and final module to think about the novel's presentation of beauty and love.


Max Saunders is Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Institute, Professor of English and Co-Director of the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s College London, where he teaches modern literature. He studied at the universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and was a Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge. He is the author of Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, 2 vols. (Oxford University Press, 1996) and Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature (Oxford University Press 2010); the editor of five volumes of Ford’s writing, including an annotated critical edition of the first volume of Ford’s Parade’s End: Some Do Not . . . (Carcanet, 2010). He has published essays on Life-writing, on Impressionism, and on a number of modern writers. He was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship from 2008-10 to research the To-Day and To-Morrow book series; and in 2013 an Advanced Grant from the ERC for the Ego-Media 5-year collaborative project on Digital Life Writing.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Saunders, M. (2018, August 15). Forster: A Room With a View - Physical and Metaphysical [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Saunders, M. "Forster: A Room With a View – Physical and Metaphysical." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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