Friday, October 30, 2009

Howard's End by EM Forster

This is the second Forster book that I've read. First one was A room with a view - which, I remember liking. I thought the theme can be easily picked up and a Hindi movie made based on that and even suggested so to some people who actually make movies...to be told that there have already been some Hollywood/European adaptations of the book.

Howard's End was closer to a movie than a theme (esp. in the end where the coincidences get too much to handle). I got reminded of The Joke (Kundera) and how one seemingly unimportant incident completely changes the lives of people around it. Something of the butterfly effect, chaos theory...but more coincidences than chaos. It also is about families and how people in a family can be clubbed together on certain traits. I tend to differ there. Liked some of the people, liked it to be ahead of its times in some ways, but then Forster's heroines are so much different from Jane Austen's - maybe a century between them explains it. I quite liked Margaret but was quite disappointed when after 30 she loses the penchant or the inclinations towards the mysteries and wanderings and wonders of the inner life and comes down to earth.

Overall, the coincidences are of the type that happen mainly in movies or in books where things end the way you wish them to end and most of the times, you wish for the perfect ending, and how does one know it is perfect? ..because most of the time in a book/movie you know what is happening in everyone's life and what is going on in their minds and you can play the pocket God and make people fall/meet, change/ understand, which, out in the world, the inefficiency of part-knowledge and the negative efficiencies of speculating on what goes on in people's mind makes the whole thing meander away from may be, what is the perfect close. And no one knows the perfect close as no one knows the universe.

This was my first book on my Kindle and a pretty pleasant, refreshing and quick read for that. There were a couple of instances in the book where I laughed out loud. Finished it yesterday evening as we touched down on the Mumbai tarmac. Liked the experience of reading with locations (instead of pages), and a constant bar showing my progress, and an in built, no-movement-away-from-the page-being-read dictionary. Though old world in certain senses (There is no touch!!!, the display is not backlit, so night-time reading without light not possible, though I can synch it with my iphone) but charming in its own way - and the strain on the eyes is equal to the strain of reading a printed page. I look forward to more kindling.

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