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The Transformative Power of the Arts in Victorian and Edwardian Culture and Society
3. The Interactions between Various Art Forms as Well as Art and Life

H. G. Wells’s and E. M. Forster’s Transformative Arts: Theoretical Divergences and Formal Connections

Transformer (par) l’art chez H. G. Wells et E. M. Forster : écarts théoriques et connexions formelles
Laurent Mellet


On considère généralement que Wells et Forster avaient deux approches radicalement contraires du pouvoir de l’art. Dans cet article, je souscris tout d’abord à cette lecture en évoquant les deux principaux pouvoirs de transformation de l’art sur lesquels se penche ce numéro. Wells croyait que l’art pouvait et devait changer la société et rendre le monde meilleur. Dans ses essais comme dans ses romans, Forster évoquait souvent les vertus de l’intermédialité, par exemple dans Aspects of the Novel. Par-delà ces premiers échos théoriques, de premières similarités apparaissent si l’on considère la mise en abyme de ces deux convictions dans les intrigues et les personnages des romans. Chez Wells, il s’agit toujours de trouver sa voie en s’efforçant de changer le monde à travers l’action ou l’engagement politique ; chez Forster, par l’accès aux sens et au sensible. Dans chaque cas, l’auteur interroge la forme romanesque. D’autres connexions se font jour, puisque les romans reposent également sur l’autre pouvoir de transformation de l’art : les œuvres de Wells témoignent d’une certaine porosité des genres littéraires, tandis que les romans de Forster peuvent se lire comme des appels à une société plus humaniste mais aussi à des individus plus libres. Ces ambiguïtés révèlent la présence de la même conviction chez les deux auteurs que la fiction doit se réinventer et se transformer, conviction typiquement libérale, édouardienne et démocratique.

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1When H. G. Wells and E. M. Forster are mentioned together in histories of British fiction or academic work on Edwardian literature, it is usually to shed light on two radically opposed approaches to the power of the arts. One of Forster’s most famous short stories, ‘The Machine Stops’, reads, in Forster’s own words, as ‘a reaction against one of the earlier heavens of H. G. Wells’ (Furbank 162). Yet we also know that the two novelists joined their forces in 1934 to support the NCCL (National Council for Civil Liberties) (Furbank 187). In this article, I want to go beyond historical contexts and obviously diverging stylistic options to look at their respective strategies when tapping into nascent forms of intermediality and experimenting with the transformative power of literature. With a view to unravelling a common Edwardian background to their theoretical divergences but also formal connections, I show that both Forster and Wells see, understand and put into practice a double meaning in Conrad’s famous 1897 words: ‘My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see’ (Conrad 5)—to make us see things through and beyond words, but also to make us appreciate and, perhaps, change and transform the world we live in. I too first set them apart to distinguish between the two main transformative powers of the arts addressed in this issue: Wells’s conviction that the arts could change society and help shape a better, fairer world, and Forster’s defence in Aspects of the Novel of musical forms of ‘rhythm’ and pictorial forms of ‘pattern’ in literature. Yet beyond such theoretical divergences, a first common point is to be found in the embedded nature of both concerns in characterisation and plot. In Wells’s Edwardian novels, the only way to fulfil oneself is precisely to try and change the world through political commitment and action, while Forsterian protagonists find salvation in a much more aesthetic progression to sentience. In either case, the novelist experiments with the form of the literary medium for the characters, and literature itself, to be transformed. But the narrative and formal modalities of this embeddedness reveal further connections, since the novels also evince the other transformative power of the arts and not just the one apparently more salient. Wells’s books sometimes display an interrogation of the novel form in its interconnections with other prose genres (journalism, pamphlet, autobiography) but also other art forms, while Forster’s novels often resort to liberal-humanist credos and other democratic stances which read as a plea for another society. I finally suggest that in this diverging and yet similar approach to the transformative power of the arts lies a typically liberal, most certainly Edwardian, and quite possibly democratic definition and practice of literature.

‘To me literature like architecture is a means, it has a use’ (Wells)

2Known above all for his anticipation novels, or ‘scientific romances’, Wells wrote a huge number of novels in the 1900s and 1910s that are even more clearly and directly politically committed, and usually read as perfect examples of Edwardian literary realism. Equally committed in his personal life, for instance a member of the Fabian Society before running as a Labour Party candidate in the 1922 and 1923 general elections, Wells pursued many careers which informed his writing, as a journalist, social philosopher, historian, prophet and even educator (Warren Wagar 14). All histories of literature mention his arguments with Henry James, also documented in Leon Edel and Gordon N. Ray’s Henry James and H. G. Wells. A Record of their Friendship. Wells wrote to him on 8 July 1915: ‘To you literature like painting is an end, to me literature like architecture is a means, it has a use’ (Hammond 1988, 35). We know he wanted his own Condition-of-England novels to be educational and help his readers better understand how to transform the world, and why not start doing it. While Victorian Condition-of-England novels called both for social reform and a reconciliation between the two nations, the rich and the poor, Wells’s Edwardian books were as much influenced by Dickens as they were supposed to be new, modern ‘discussion[s] of ideas, . . . of the problems of human conduct, of the forces which had moulded the society of his time’ (Hammond 1988, 30). Wells believed in the modern dimension there was to his project, articulating as it did a stance against Decadence and fin-de-siècle aesthetic (Warren Wagar 61) with a new way of conveying Socialist dreams of transformation through artistic form (Warren Wagar  99): ‘For all of the fears of many fin-de-siècle commentators in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries over the effects of reading literature on the newly literate masses, much empirical evidence seems to suggest that literature of genuine merit did have a transformative effect on those who read it’ (James 8).

3‘[Wells’s] final goal was always the reconstruction, from top to bottom, of human civilization’ (Warren Wagar 18): W. Warren Wagar has studied what Wells’s personal convictions and works owe to such a Victorian frame of mind (44). Art should change life, as was studied in the two issues of the Cahiers Victoriens et Édouardiens devoted to Wells, for instance in ‘La signification historique de Ann Veronica’ (Ducamp) or in ‘Time at the End of its Tether: H. G. Wells and the Subversion of Master Narrative’ (Caldwell). According to Simon J. James: ‘Far from being escapist fantasy, therefore, Wells’s scientific romances also seek to provide their readers with, in Theodor Adorno’s phrase, “negative knowledge of the actual world”, to set them in a dialectical relationship with their surroundings and thus be encouraged to alter these surroundings for the better’ (James 38).

4Wells has written many essays or book chapters on his own approach to prose fiction and his belief it should aim at transformation (Parrinder 1995, 96). But it is another set of essays that is worth mentioning here, those on Wells by Forster. In Aspects of the Novel, Wells is a ‘valuable social reformer’ (Forster 2000a, 33), who ‘registers an improvement in society . . . not any change in the novelist’s art’ (34). In his two reviews of The Outline of History (1920), Forster praises his ‘arrangement’ (Forster 1999, 56). On the other hand: ‘The surface of Wells’ English is poor. . . . the sentence is journalistic rather than literary’ (57). ‘He seldom has created a character who lives’ (58). ‘He cannot create individuals, and when he would use one to epitomize a great contemporary emotion the result is a mess’ (59). To Forster, ‘[Wells’s] heart is Victorian. . . . To him evolution is progress’ (61). Such lack of optimism testifies to a major difference when it comes to believing in this first transformative power of the arts (Medalie 44). And Forster notoriously wrote in a 1941 essay: ‘Each time Mr Wells and my other architectural friends anticipate a great outburst of post-war activity and world-planning my heart contracts. To me the best chance for future society lies through apathy, uninventiveness and inertia’ (Forster 1942, 110; Cox 7). No transforming agenda may be found here, and the implied reference to Wells’s words to James (‘To me literature like architecture is a means’) reads as another denial of this transformative power of the arts. Yet in Aspects of the Novel Forster sides with Wells and against James, arguing that ‘life should be given the preference’ and that though the laws of art cannot be those of daily life, too rigid a pattern will become ‘a disadvantage’ (Forster 2000a, 145). Where were Forster’s own ambiguities on the other transformative power of literature?

‘What is the good of the arts if they’re interchangeable?’

5Forster’s texts on Wells tell much about his own faith in the necessary transformation of one art form when opening up to another. In Aspects of the Novel, he thinks Wells’s words in Boon—‘Why should a book have [homogeneity]? For a picture it’s reasonable, because you have to see it all at once’—are ‘uncomfortable’ (169). What may be equally uncomfortable is that despite the educational objective and the rejection of painting, through the comparison with architecture Wells also hints at the interchangeability of the arts. In a famous passage from Howards End, Forster ponders on the implications of such mutability. Chapter 5 offers contradictory interpretations of and reactions to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The most intermedial or synaesthetic experience is Helen Schlegel’s: ‘[Helen] even stretched out her gloved hands as if it was tangible. . . . The goblins really had been there. . . . The music had summed up to her all that had happened or could happen in her career. She read it as a tangible statement’ (Forster 2000b, 29). Listening, touching and reading combine in a morphic moment, precisely with a view to transforming the character herself. On their way to Wickham Place after the concert, the Schlegel family ‘quarrels’, in Leonard Bast’s words, over interchangeability. While to Mrs Munt and Margaret, ‘music is so different to pictures’, Helen ‘declares they’re just the same’, ‘translat[ing] tunes into the language of painting, and pictures into the language of music’, ‘turn[ing] music into literature’ (33). Margaret then wonders: ‘What is the good of the arts if they’re interchangeable?’ (33) Here one art does not so much turn into another one as it is transformed, translated and experienced as another one. The role of the recipient is central to activate this other transformative power of the arts.

6This is perhaps why what Forster voices here links back to, for instance, the Arts and Crafts movement and their ‘belief in artistic unity’, when ‘[m]usic, literature and art should all be as one’ (Hattersley 352), as it reveals a crucial concern for the members of the Bloomsbury Group and more generally for fin-de-siècle aestheticism and for Modernism. As is well known, in Aspects of the Novel Forster’s prejudices are with a salutary, modern mutation of literature into the other art forms, principally music and painting: ‘Yes—oh dear yes—the novel tells a story. . . . and I wish that it was not so, that it could be something different—melody, or perception of the truth, not this low atavistic form’ (Forster 2000a, 40; Mellet 190). Recent Forsterian criticism has looked at this precise dimension, while Lionel Trilling back in 1943 claimed: ‘Forster uses the novel as a form amenable to the most arbitrary manipulation. He teases his medium and plays with his genre’ (Trilling 10).

First Formal Connections: Embedding Transformation in Form and Content

7Both Forster and Wells inscribe and embed their respective beliefs in this or that transformative power of the arts in their novels. Forsterian characters often claim their ‘round’ ‘aspect’ precisely by transforming into more visible, audible, and sensitive creatures. This also shows in the ways the medium is being ‘teased’, for instance opening up onto musical structures (to Benjamin Britten: ‘There is no doubt that E. M. Forster is our most musical novelist’ [Britten 80]), the more static aesthetic of the tableau vivant (Mellet 47) or other forms of narrative theatricality (51). This is particularly noticeable in A Room with a View, Maurice, and A Passage to India, as shown in Peter Burra’s analysis of Forster’s handling of ‘operatic truth’ in his 1924 novel and of his typically Edwardian symbolic reliance on images (Forster 2005b, 314, 316) or in Michelle Fillion’s book Difficult Rhythm. Music and the Word in E. M. Forster. At first sight, no such individual and formal changes in Wells’s Edwardian novels, in which, as was already the case in his scientific romances, what is embedded is the need for action so as to alter and better our world. In many books, this agenda is both thematised as a programmatic narrative and realised and carried out by Wells’s characters, though not without limits (Wells 2017, 260): a dreary snapshot of the condition of urban England in Kipps, more of a pamphleteer’s and propagandist’s tone in Love and Mr Lewisham (Wells 1946, 60), and in The History of Mr Polly, the programme (‘If the world does not please you, you can change it’ [Wells 2001, 137]) and the narrative possibility to change it indeed (104). The New Machiavelli yields more articulate examples of literary and even linguistic inscriptions of transformation, be it through political characterisation between imagination and facts, or an attempt at a formal experiment in political narrative for instance with free direct speech, hypotaxis and irony (Wells 1994, 137–40, 233–36).

8Social or political forms of commitment become the goal to be achieved for Wells’s protagonists, the better to transform themselves and the world, but also to tap into the moral and, sometimes, formal potentials of the medium. Here lies the whole ambiguity of the literary status of his so-called ‘Prig Novels’ (Hammond 2001, 138). According for example to Anne B. Simpson: ‘Frequently Wells’s protagonists are little more than voices doing battle with theories’ (Simpson 69). Besides, while ‘[h]e preferred the discursive, moralising commentary used by the Victorians’ (Parrinder 1976, 78), in these novels Wells self-indulgently blurred the lines between autobiography and the novel, or between prophecy and fiction. Parrinder has studied the theoretical and aesthetic implications in the opening pages of Tono-Bungay, where the first-person narrator Ponderevo muses on the necessity to reconsider what ‘characters’ in a ‘novel’ might be (79): ‘Most people in this world seem to live “in character”; they have a beginning, a middle and an end, and the three are congruous one with another and true to the rules of their type’ (Wells 1999, 3); ‘I’ve read an average share of novels and made some starts before this beginning, and I’ve found the restraints and rules of the art (as I made them out) impossible for me’ (6). Therefore, despite their obvious prophetic content and tone, the Condition-of-England novels also address the ways they may transform the world precisely as literature. All the novels by Forster and Wells tell stories of change and growing awareness—within a sentient frame with the former, and a more social one with the latter. Yet both novelists wrote in such a way which performed these transformations while ‘teasing the medium’, its ends but its means too.

Veering to the Other Transformation: Other Connections

9Either novelist also experiments, however cautiously, with the other transformative power of the arts. Simon J. James’s recent study of Wells’s modernity shows that ‘[e]ven viewed solely by high modernist canons of significant form, Wells is still unarguably an experimental writer, seeking to challenge the formal limits of literature in order to make fiction a powerful agent in the world’ (James 193). According to Hammond, ‘Wells was also testing out approaches in structure and method’ in novels with ‘an unusual structure’, ‘neither a realistic novel nor a romance’, ‘seeking to break new ground in the English novel’ (Hammond 2001, 154). To do so, Wells also played with various styles and genres, such as the documentary in The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) and The War of the Worlds (1898), the fairy-tale in The Time Machine (1895), and ‘novel[s] of deliberate contingency based on the fluidity of the autobiographical narrator’ (Bradbury xxxii) in The New Machiavelli and Tono-Bungay. In this novel, sketches are included in the narrative (Wells 1999, 131), while David Lodge’s famous phrase, Wells’s ‘architectural rhetoric’ (Lodge 119), points at striking similarities with Forster’s presentation of London in Howards End. Lodge locates the gist of Tono-Bungay’s social commentary in its descriptions and the unexpected poetry of their visual quality (114–15). This dimension can also be found in The History of Mr Polly (Wells 2001, 155), as well as in the political meaning of vision and appearances in The New Machiavelli (Wells 1994, 137), in pages suddenly written as a play in The History of Mr Polly (Wells 2001, 50; Hammond 1988, 45; Ducamp 84) and Kipps (Wells 2017, 66, 143). Kipps is usually read as Wells’s most Dickensian novel (Hammond 2001, 127) and as his most achieved example of the combination of art and prophecy, which is precisely what set him apart from the other Edwardian novelists: ‘Bennett and Galsworthy were gifted artists of an older school. Wells was a prophet and a world-betterer who borrowed some of its techniques and invented some of his own to represent and transcend and revolutionize the world as he saw it’ (Warren Wagar 225). We know that there were two facets to Wells’s Edwardian literary career, at least in his own words. ‘I had rather be called a journalist than an artist’ (Edel and Ray 264), as he wrote to James on 11 July 1915, but also: ‘I want to write novels and before God I will write novels’ (Warren Wagar 115), as he had written to Bennett on 15 June 1900. My contention is that Wells was determined to experiment and be modern, ‘consciously concerned with the creation of a new type of novel based on “life” and “change”, as opposed to “artifice” and “omission”’ (Bradbury xxxii). To convince his readers that they must play their parts in the transformation of the world, he sporadically endeavoured to tease and transform his medium, as both a journalist and a novelist.

  • 1 In a 1946 BBC broadcast, Forster’s judgment was even more positive: [Wells] popularised ideas. . .  (...)
  • 2 On the links between Wells and Lawrence, see Herbert.

10This apparent opposition then, which eventually reads more as a twofold and complementary stance on the transformative powers of the arts, should be compared with Forster’s own contradictory assessment of Wells’s characters. In Aspects of the Novel we read: ‘With the possible exceptions of Kipps and the aunt in Tono-Bungay, all Wells’s characters are as flat as a photograph’ (Forster 2000a, 76); ‘he photographs those he meets and agitates the photographs’ (169). In a 1929 article on Sinclair Lewis, Forster would then explain in scathing terms what, beyond his own distinction between flat and round characters, he means by this comparison with photography, while also acknowledging that there is life and vividness in Wells’s books: ‘Wells is still kicking because photography was only one of his resources. When his early freshness wore off, he could bring into play his restless curiosity about the universe, and thus galvanize his later novels into life’ (Forster 1996, 129).1 Another contradiction which reads as a final example of a formal connection with Wells is the fact that Forster’s novels too teem with passages in which he voices through his characters a crying need for transformation and for another world. Yet with him, unsurprisingly, we shall not get any further than the programmatic stage. At the end of Maurice, the young man declares to Alec: ‘You can do anything once you know what it is’ (Forster 2005a, 206). Both Howards End and A Passage to India offer similar examples of a vital wish for change, and then of course of even more definitive conclusions questioning the mere possibility of transformation. However, all these novels exemplify Forster’s well-known liberal-humanist faith in individual forms of progress, which I read as a ‘muddled’ Wellsian intuition that the arts might change life. Let us remember Forster’s words in some of his essays, for instance in ‘The Challenge of our Time’: ‘Art is valuable not because it is educational (though it may be), not because it is recreative (though it may be), not because everyone enjoys it (for everybody does not), not even because it has to do with beauty. It is valuable because it has to do with order, and creates little worlds of its own, possessing internal harmony, in the bosom of this disordered planet’ (Forster 1951, 71). In 1946, the internal harmony of art was to Forster one of the ways to change the world, or at least resist one of its other tragic transformations. To return briefly to Aspects of the Novel, let us also remember Forster’s claim that ‘To take your reader into your confidence about the universe is a different thing. It is not dangerous for a novelist to draw back from his characters . . . , and to generalize about the conditions under which he thinks life is carried on’ (Forster 2000a, 84), and that though his chapter on prophecy is a surprising ode to D. H. Lawrence’s works, precisely because unlike Wells’s its prophetic ‘greatness lies . . . upon something aesthetic’ (130), it reveals a strong belief in artistic capacity for transformation.2

Liberal, Edwardian and Democratic Connections

11All these theoretical divergences and formal connections flaunt a common liberal, Edwardian and democratic approach to literature. We know the extent to which Liberal politics and social options defined the cultural and ethical frames of Edwardianism (Crews). In the introduction to his study The Birth of Liberal Guilt in the English Novel, Daniel Born reminds us that ‘[u]nlike us, the Victorians and the Edwardians held enormously hopeful convictions about both the epistemological validity and the transformative possibilities of art’ (Born 2), before claiming that the latter novelists’ specificity resides in the expression of doubts, guilt and indecisions, in quite a liberal fashion (17). The qualified, tentative practice of the less salient transformative power of the arts (transforming arts with Wells, or society with Forster), and its limited actualisation, read as a typical liberal reservation. On the struggle with the House of Lords and the 1911 Parliament Bill, Samuel Hynes notes: ‘the Edwardian age ended with little social improvement accomplished. It had been more an Age of Reformers than an Age of Reform’ (Hynes 56). Even as regards their primary convictions, Wells and Forster can be viewed as believers more than practitioners: Wells’s books have anticipated perhaps more than actually changed the world (Bergonzi 5), and Forster’s particular Edwardian and Modernist aesthetic is a moot point for literary criticism. Similarly, if we now consider the other set of formal connections, the literary status and quality of Wells’s novels has often, not to say always, been deemed very poor, and Forster’s later essays testify to his growing disillusionment with liberal-humanism, personal relations and, most probably, humankind.

  • 3 Simon J. James underlines one of the possible limits of Wells’s Naturalism: ‘while fiction should r (...)

12Among the multifarious aspects of Edwardian literature, its complex reception and, sometimes, imitation of Naturalism is another fruitful distinctive characteristic. First censored and criticised in the 1890s, Zola’s experimental form of Naturalism may be viewed as another example of an Edwardian transition, as usual between Victorianism and Modernism, but also allows us to reconsider the political and aesthetic singularities of its literature, with its own agendas and formal innovations. Zola’s experimental novel drew upon an empirical approach to the world and to the narrative possibility to test a given set of doubts about humankind thanks to their literary inscription. Forster’s and Wells’s Edwardian novels are such laboratories to experiment with the new realities of their times and test new literary modalities, including the transformative powers of the arts.3 In the wake of Anne B. Simpson’s work on the ‘tension between a deep pessimism and a reforming spirit’ (Simpson 67) in Wells, it may be worth studying the novels as Edwardian, empiricist and naturalistic attempts at questioning the ‘doubting attitude’ (68) of their times, and test new literary ways of performing it. Simpson adds that Wells’s ‘Edwardian novels highlight the individual’s need for self-realization’ (76): this component of the Prig Novels is equally central in all the Forsterian plots, becoming another symptom of the Edwardian emphasis on individualisation, and of a specific literary moment before the Modernist exploration of the self (Sheehan 19). According to William J. Scheick: ‘By uniting a nineteenth-century faith in values with a modern experimentation with fictional form, Wells emerges as a remarkable artist and a truly transitional figure in the development from Victorian to contemporary fiction’ (Scheick 123). To substantiate the claim, a naturalist study of Wells’s ‘modern experimentation’ and of Forster’s Edwardian and Modernist singularity (and of Arnold Bennett and D. H. Lawrence too) may undoubtedly help.

13Eventually, a common democratic stance and praxis comes over. We know Forster’s reservations about democracy, his ‘Two cheers for Democracy’ and preference for ‘the Beloved Republic’ in ‘What I Believe’ (Forster 1951, 79). Warren Wagar has illuminating pages on Wells’s historical, sociological and political writings, and his ambiguous definition and assessment of democracy for instance in After Democracy (Warren Wagar 85, 95, 121, 188 and 213). These new doubts, pertaining to the political anxiety of the times, point at a deep contradiction between beliefs and praxis which, to some commentators, evinces the postmodernity of Wells’s mind and even the postmodernism of his novels—a surprising transformation of both the books and their reception (Born 148; Warren Wagar 225). More generally, scholars regularly shed light on the endurance of contradictions, for instance John Hammond (‘this co-existence within the novel of apparently opposing emotional responses, corresponding to the author’s own unresolved doubts’ [Hammond 2001, 192]) or Anthony West (‘Wells’s “progressive” writing represents an attempt to straddle irreconcilable positions’ [West 18]). On Forster, Simon During claims that democracy in Howards End emerges in its formal and narrative ‘resistance to interpretation’ (During 120), and Janice Ho has looked at ‘Democratic Friends in E. M. Forster’s The Longest Journey and Howards End’ (Ho 25). Such a study of the liberal and democratic foundations of Edwardian and Modernist fiction also entails a new articulation of these contradictions involving, for instance, Alain Badiou’s contention that cinema ‘is a mass art because it is the active democratisation of the other six’ (Badiou 4). If Badiou’s famous essay ‘Cinema as a Democratic Emblem’ first addresses the way cinema borrows much from the other arts in order to transform and democratise them, the other transformative power of the arts implied here can surely be questioned and furthered by looking at the democratic function of Edwardian writing—by claiming the power to transform, the form, more than ever, becomes a democratic source and agent of power. Simon J. James sums up Wells’s principles in those words: ‘Literature should not exist to describe the structures and functions of society unless it actively seeks to improve them’ (James 157). To do so, literature and its various forms were slowly but surely transformed by Forster and Wells into liberal and democratic aesthetic means and ends.

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1 In a 1946 BBC broadcast, Forster’s judgment was even more positive: [Wells] popularised ideas. . . . He was also a rich and human novelist who could create individuals and make us care about them and laugh . . . . When he is seen in perspective, his fiction will loom large’ (Lago 369).

2 On the links between Wells and Lawrence, see Herbert.

3 Simon J. James underlines one of the possible limits of Wells’s Naturalism: ‘while fiction should reflect life as it is, it should not focus exclusively on the unpleasant aspects of life, a tendency for which Wells reproves naturalism’ (James 11). While the implied definition of Naturalism here is inflected by a mere focus on its themes and plots, I suggest there was a common interest for and practice of naturalistic writing modalities and aesthetics.

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Laurent Mellet, « H. G. Wells’s and E. M. Forster’s Transformative Arts: Theoretical Divergences and Formal Connections »Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 89 Spring | 2019, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2019, consulté le 20 mai 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Laurent Mellet

Laurent Mellet is Professor of British literature and film at the University Toulouse Jean Jaurès (CAS - EA 801). His research fields are modernist and contemporary British fiction, film studies and adaptation. His work focuses on the ethics of form and partakes of a political criticism of aesthetics. He is the co-author with Shannon Wells-Lassagne of Étudier l’adaptation filmique. Cinéma anglais - cinéma américain (PUR, 2010), the author of L’Œil et la voix dans les romans de E. M. Forster et leur adaptation cinématographique (PULM, 2012), of Jonathan Coe. Les politiques de l’intime (PUPS, 2015), and of Atonement (Ian McEwan, Joe Wright): ‘The attempt was all’ (Belin, 2017). He is the co-editor with Sophie Aymes of In and Out. Eccentricity in Britain (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012) and with Elsa Cavalié of Only Connect. E. M. Forster’s Legacies in British Fiction (Peter Lang, 2017).
Laurent Mellet est Professeur de littérature et de cinéma britanniques à l’Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès (CAS – EA 801). Ses champs de recherche sont la littérature britannique moderniste et contemporaine, la théorie filmique et l’adaptation. Il travaille sur l’éthique de la forme dans le cadre d’une critique politique de l’esthétique. Il est l’auteur de L’Œil et la voix dans les romans de E. M. Forster et leur adaptation cinématographique (PULM, 2012), Jonathan Coe. Les politiques de l’intime (PUPS, 2015) et Atonement (Ian McEwan, Joe Wright). « The attempt was all » (PUF-Belin, 2017). Avec Shannon Wells-Lassagne, il est le co-auteur de Étudier l’adaptation filmique. Cinéma anglais, cinéma américain (PUR, 2010). Il a dirigé avec Sophie Aymes In and Out. Eccentricity in Britain (CSP, 2012), et avec Elsa Cavalié Only Connect. E. M. Forster’s Legacies in British Fiction (Peter Lang, 2017).

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