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E. M. Forster–James Ivory: Howards End

Hauntings in James Ivory’s Howards End

La spectralité dans Howards End de James Ivory
Jean-François Baillon


Malgré les apparences de modernité auxquelles peut prétendre l’adaptation du roman de E. M. Forster par James Ivory en raison de son style et de son sujet, il est possible de l’envisager d’un point de vue déconstructionniste qui prête attention à la présence de thèmes et de figures de la spectralité. D’abord considérée comme une opposition entre des personnages qui incarnent des attitudes existentielles contrastées, la spectralité gouverne également—surtout—leur mode de présence et de présentation à l’écran. En fin de compte, cela révèle la manière subtile qui est celle d’Ivory d’indiquer la nature fugace de sa propre création en tant que simple projection.

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1As many commentators have noticed (Audeguy 7–13), modernity has a special relation to spectrality and ghosts. According to Raphaëlle Guidée, the spectrality of modernity has something to do with the ‘disturbing effects of the return of a lost tradition’, as well as with ‘the invention of recording techniques . . . that make it possible for ghosts to return’ (Guidée 12–13). As a filmic adaptation of a modernist novel that deals with tradition as one of its main subjects, James Ivory’s Howards End invites viewings that pay attention to the importance of haunting, despite the fact that strictly speaking the plot does not revolve around a literal ghost story. But then, was there ever such a thing as a literal ghost story worthy of the name? Given Ivory’s lasting interest in the theme of tradition and in the traces of the past in his Indian films and his particular taste for writers like Henry James, whose work is pervaded with the ghostly, we shouldn’t be surprised to find that spectrality is also relevant to an analysis of Howards End. In her review on its French release, Marie-Anne Guérin, in Cahiers du Cinéma, pointed out the theme of the ‘lost tradition’:

Ce qui habite tout le film (et le cinéma de Ivory), c’est le sentiment doux-amer, parfois voluptueux, (pas du côté de la mélancolie mais plutôt de celui de l’anamnèse), incarné et symbolisé par la somptueuse présence augurale de Vanessa Redgrave, d’appartenir à un monde sur le point de disparaître et d’arpenter des territoires qui n’en gardent pas la mémoire (telle l’oublieuse terre indienne de Shakespeare Wallah ou du très beau Autobiography of a Princess). (Guérin 25)

2As to Belén Vidal, in the remarkable pages she devoted to Howards End in Figuring the Past, she pointed out the presence of the ghostly and commented:

Ghosts sit uncomfortably in the modern imagination, yet they are not simply a throwback to the past, but the trace of chronology confounded—time out of joint: ‘ghosts are anachronism par excellence, the appearance of something in a time in which they clearly do not belong’. The ghost challenges the idea of linear time (and therefore clearly defined notions of ‘period’); it does not belong properly to any given space-time frame but poses a threshold between frames. We can liken the ghost to the figural as a blur in the picture that marks the eruption of the purely visible into the orderly space of the discursive. (Vidal 69)

3The present paper will examine how some of the figures and concepts traditionally associated with spectrality and ghosts can produce an interpretation of Ivory’s film. As a retrospective representation of an age caught between forces of economic, social and political change that one may describe as ‘modern’ and forces that looked back towards a more ‘traditional’ vision of England, the film might have tended to blend them into some indistinct notion of ‘the past’ that forms part of the general aesthetic definition of so-called ‘heritage cinema’. However, as the preceding quotations suggest, there are tensions within modernity as well as within the film itself. Our main hypothesis is that an analysis of some of its main figures in terms of spectrality can bring to light some interesting differences between the characters and the existential position they embody. We will suggest that those characters most intimately associated with the spectral challenge and unsettle a philosophy of presence and immediacy that is mainly represented by the Wilcoxes, especially Henry.

4Henry Wilcox appears to be the voice of a simple philosophy of the here and now: ‘no time like the present’, he claims in answer to Margaret’s diplomatic attempts to start a discussion about Leonard Bast after the wedding ceremony at Oniton Grange (1:31:33). He is also a man of simple dichotomies and clear-cut definitions, as we can see from his statements about the Schlegel sisters, opposing Helen’s vagaries (later, he will use the word ‘madness’) to what he insists is Margaret’s matter-of-factness. ‘My Margaret, she keeps her facts straight’, he muses. In spite of Margaret’s expression of doubt (‘What facts are those, dear?’), he goes on: ‘Hm, about men and women and all that sort of thing. Who is who and what is what’ (1:49:00–1:49:10). The editing—with the close-up on the postcard that Margaret turns—and the focus on Margaret’s pensiveness undermine the solidity of Henry’s position. He fails to perceive that Helen’s absence haunts the scene.

5Henry is a man of the present moment. His relationship to the past is superficial, not foundational, as in the scene of luncheon at Simpson’s, where he reminisces of his days in the Orient in a way that only reinforces ethnic and cultural stereotypes—unless, as we will discover later, it is a front for a more shameful past, what in Freudian theory is called a ‘screen memory’, concealing the memory of his affair with Jacky (1:03:22–1:03:45). Similarly, the portraits admired by Margaret on the walls of Oniton Grange—a trope of patriotic cinema, as in the beginning of Zoltan Korda’s The Four Feathers (1939)—do not really connect Henry to the past: none of them are Wilcoxes (1:23:00–1:23:30). Again, the conversations about Leonard’s plight reveal the same lack of depth of temporal field. What was true about the Porphyrion yesterday (‘I’d advise him to clear out of the Porphyrion with all possible speed’—56:04) is no longer true today (‘not a bad business the Porphyrion’—1:12:02). Henry’s is what we might call a ‘presentist’ philosophy (Hartog 2003).

6The episode of Jacky’s intrusion, however, shatters the solidity of his position and reminds us of the way the Freudian uncanny was applied by T.J. Lustig to situations in the fiction of Henry James:

In her analysis of this scene [from The Ambassadors] Ruth Bernard Yeazell detects forces which recall those at work in the Freudian uncanny. Through ‘the inevitable surfacing of suppressed facts’, Strether joins other characters in James’s later work who must ‘confront what in some part of themselves they have long since known’. (Lustig 195)

7In the same way, the motif of the English country house itself undergoes a process of defamiliarisation: it becomes Unheimlich. In filming the house, Ivory actually uses some of the tropes of the ‘haunted house’ in gothic horror films, like: the shot on a window from outside, the long shot on the house, the empty dark room, the crone (here, Miss Avery), the sound of thumping coming from upstairs, the shadows on the walls. Similar devices are used in classic films featuring haunted houses like The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961), The Haunting (Robert Wise, 1963), The Amityville Horror (Stuart Rosenberg, 1979), The Changeling (Peter Medak, 1980), Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1998), The Others (Alejandro Amenábar, 2001). These shots both objectify and denaturalize our relationship to the house, raising issues of property, landscape and representation as well as what makes a house a ‘home’. Now the notion of Unheimlichkeit used in gothic studies to analyse horror has been theorised by Freud in a famous 1919 essay from such stock situations and themes as, precisely the haunted house, a place both familiar and unfamiliar, which is precisely the point made by Margaret when she visits the place the first time. During her visit at the Imperial and West African Rubber Company, she claims, ‘I can hardly wait to see it [Howards End] although I almost feel I have’ (1:15:17). If Howards End can be said to be Unheimlich, isn’t it because its ‘homeliness’ has been made problematic but also because Ivory’s strategies as a filmmaker rely on the strange familiarity of the place?

8‘Did you take her for a spook’, Dolly muses about Miss Avery (1:19:56), thus explicitly reinforcing the network of associations with the gothic that surrounds the scene of Margaret’s visit to Howards End. ‘I think about my house a great deal’, Ruth Wilcox confesses to Margaret Schlegel as their friendship gets thicker (33:43). This makes Howards End a haunting house as much as a haunted house—perhaps like most haunted houses, drawing everyone to them and creating lasting memories. Ruth claims that she can’t help thinking about it (33:43), but she is not the only one. Howards End becomes an obsession also for Margaret. Ruth Wilcox, however, is the first ghost in the film. In the opening sequence she is filmed as if she were truly a ghostly presence. In twilight atmosphere, she walks outdoors past the windows through which life can be glimpsed in warm colours (2:20–3:27). This pale woman remains unnoticed by masters and servants alike. Relying on Deleuze, Belén Vidal writes, ‘As if through a crack in the crystal, the eye crosses over to the side of the ghost’ (Vidal 76). Ruth’s position defines her as a spectre in Derrida’s sense: ‘fantôme ou revenant, sensible insensible, visible invisible, le spectre d’abord nous voit. De l’autre côté de l’oeil, effet de visière, il nous regarde avant même que nous ne le voyions ou que nous ne voyions tout court’ (Derrida 165). ‘Spook’, according to the etymology provided by the O.E.D. on line, is a word of Low German origin, and its slang U.S. meaning, largely adopted in Britain as well, also means ‘a spy’—thus confirming the Derridean analysis of the spectre as look. Vidal also analyses the scene in terms of ‘anamorphosis of space into time’ (Vidal 76). The analysis of this early scene by Marie-Anne Guérin also points out some details that express a certain sensitivity to Ivory’s creation of a mythical synthesis of art and nature, in fact a pure image:

le film s’ouvre, en amont du roman, sur le frôlement au crépuscule de la traîne d’une robe claire qui trace son sillage dans l’herbe sombre et dense. Lentement la caméra s’écarte, laissant le champ libre à la silhouette élégante et civilisée de Mrs. Wilcox, tout droit échappée d’une peinture de Sargent, et qui semble naître de ce contact avec son jardin, en être une émergence. (Guérin 24)

9Guérin even sees a pale dress where in fact Vanessa Redgrave wears a dark one: contrary to what happens with the governess in Clayton’s The Innocents, her attire in Howards End changes from dark to light as she accomplishes her journey. In later scenes of the film, Ruth keeps reminding us of a living dead. Her pallor, the frailty of her voice, her outmoded views on suffrage—every detail makes her a figure from the past. Ruth’s whiteness can be construed as an element, among others, of her spectrality. Her relationship to (black-and-white) photography is another. She is the only character in the film who handles a framed photograph of relatives (27:57), thus firmly establishing a contrast with the former tradition of portrait painting. Portrait photography is a memento, that connects Ruth to a world of likenesses that, in the Edwardian ear, had actually superseded portrait painting in the middle classes. The casting of Vanessa Redgrave as Ruth Wilcox caused James Ivory to comment, in conversation with Robert Emmet Long: ‘Vanessa, on the one hand, is very real as a flesh-and-blood person; she herself is very solid. But, on the other hand, her manner and her acting style have an evanescence that suggested the idea of this semimythic person. In my mind there was no one else who could have played that part. I never thought of anybody else’ (Long 224).

10According to Derrida, spectrality is also about what he calls, after Didi-Huberman, ‘heterochrony’. This is why, as a ‘trace that marks the present with its absence in advance’, the spectre accomplishes a ‘deconstructive logic’: ‘un spectre, c’est à la fois visible et invisible, à la fois phénoménal et non phénoménal: une trace qui marque d’avance le présent de son absence. La logique spectrale est de facto une logique déconstructrice’ (Derrida and Stiegler 131). Again, the opening scene of the film offers exactly that. The first shot, with the camera following Ruth walking in the grass, literally films the making of a trace (1:07–1:37), and the scene ends with Ruth leaving the field of the camera on the right still unnoticed from those inside the house, like a prolepsis of her death (3:30). However, heterochrony in Howards End is not restricted to Ruth. Leonard, for one, is a figure that achieves much in terms of the deconstruction of the present of the film. One early clue is given during the piece of nonsensical dialogue with the Schlegels concerning the timing of his ‘afternoon call’ (51:00–52:00): Leonard’s subjectivity troubles the linearity of the chronological narrative more than once in the course of the film, while it simultaneously also troubles the apparent simplicity of diegetic space. In an early instance of this, while Jacky starts undressing in the next room, his reading from his book in voiceover conjures up a double of himself in an imaginary landscape that replaces the literal space of the sitting-room thanks to a dissolve (24:42–25:22). In his commentary of Jean Mitry’s theory of cinema, Christian Metz suggested that whereas the film as narrative is ‘always in the past’, the filmic image is ‘always in the present’ (Metz 1986, 73). Whatever we think of this dichotomy, it relies on two homogeneous strands that seem equally stable in their relationship to time. It seems that one of the functions of the figure of Leonard in Howards End is precisely to complicate this, just as he complicates filmic space. When exactly ‘is’ each of the sequences ascribed to Leonard’s subjective narration? If we take the dream sequence that precedes his decision to find Helen again (2:05:55–2:06:46), what we can at least say is that it brings together visual and aural elements that bring the viewer back in time to earlier parts of the film, thus disrupting the sense of ‘the present’ that they may have if we follow Metz’s insight.

11In the context of the present discussion, what is also very striking about Leonard is his close connection to Ruth, first achieved through the walk-in-nature motif and the floral motif. The daydreaming sequence at the Porphyrion (47:44–48:49), like the actual dream sequence in the last part of the film, create breaks in the treatment of space (with openings into Leonard’s mental spaces) that are suggestive of simultaneous presence and absence of the character in an uncanny space. In the second sequence (Leonard’s dream), the use of shots of Helen based on the ‘Music and Meaning’ scene combined with chords from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony conjure up an impression of ‘déjà vu’. This is a feeling that Freud identified as a variety of the uncanny, as Nicholas Royle pointed out in one chapter of his own study (Royle 172–86). Royle brings up into the discussion the concept of ‘déjà raconté’. In his film of Howards End, Ivory multiplies shots or scenes that create that feeling of ‘déjà vu’ or ‘déjà raconté’: the shot on the fire to destroy a letter (45:32; 1:39:13) or the two family reunions (42:44–45:44; 2:15:39–2:16:59). The story of Henry’s relationship to Jacky is told twice (by Henry, reluctantly, to Margaret, then by Leonard, with more details, to Helen) (1:36:20–1:37:50; 1:39:40–1:40:20). So is the story of the pig’s teeth (36:34–36:58; 1:19:27–1:19:48). The chronological linearity of the film is thus again severely punctured. In a film that is so insistent—visually and aurally—on the presence of clocks, such a disruption of linearity is indicative of the deconstructive power of spectral figures. More generally, linear time is often disrupted in the film through the agency of Leonard: sometimes in a comic way through the misunderstanding over his visit to the Schlegel sisters, sometimes through the use of prolepsis when he caresses the hilt of the sword that will later kill him (52:40). More spectacular ways are the dream that has just been mentioned, or the daydream at the Porphyrion. These are instances when narrative time as well as diegetic time seem ‘out of joint’. Continuity editing is misleadingly used, together with the voiceover and the music, so as to produce discontinuity.

  • 1 There is also a network of terms linking together these characters with beings that belong to liter (...)

12What brings the figures of Ruth, Helen and Leonard (and to some extent Margaret) together is the use of properties of the filmic discourse to suggest that they form part of a use of the spectral as an allegory of cinema itself.1 The most obvious one is the use of dissolves. This mode of presence/absence occurs in a striking manner in the opening sequence to turn the figure of Ruth into an elusive, fleeting presence. The same can be said about Leonard in the daydreaming sequence at the Porphyrion while he peruses a book of astronomy. It is also an editing device used in the section concerning the reception of Helen’s postcards. Famous texts about experiences of early cinema connect it to ghosts and spectrality. Thus Maxim Gorky in ‘Last Night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows’ (Chanan 33; Banda and Moure 48) or Jules Claretie in ‘Le spectre des vivants’ (1896): ‘ce merveilleux Cinématographe, qui nous rend le spectre des vivants, nous donnera-t-il, en nous permettant d’en conserver le fantôme, et les gestes, et le son de voix même, la douceur et les caresses des chers êtres disparus?’ (Banda and Moure 43). In his study on the uncanny, Nicholas Royle comments upon Tom Gunning’s remark about ‘the fundamentally uncanny quality of photography, its capture of a spectre-like double’ (Royle 78). Margaret is somehow a double of Ruth, a Dopplegänger, often framed in a way that suggests a negative mirror image, as in the trip to Harrod’s, shot inside a carriage that reminds us of a camera obscura (34:20) No wonder Miss Avery mistook her for Ruth, finding that she had ‘her way of walking’ (1:18:31).

13During a large segment of the film Helen’s absence is a theme in dialogue and gives rise to a succession of shots that imply that she is nevertheless much present. Her postcards are handled by several characters (Tibby, Margaret, Aunt Juley) and the close-ups on them create a complex interplay between words, images and frame (1:18:44; 1:49:23; 1:49:38; 1:49:45). The repetition of a musical motif on the harp emphasises the evanescent quality of Helen’s communication at this point, especially as Margaret comments to Annie, ‘and no letter’ (1:49:39), pointing out the telegraphic brevity of the messages, as it were. Where is Helen exactly? She constantly moves from one location to another, as we can read or hear. The very form of the postcard suggests a time-gap between emission and reception that emphasises the elusiveness of her location. The images on the postcards refer to standardised representations of the places where she was, as opposed to the filmic image that captures the presence, or at least the trace of the presence, of the actors on screen. ‘I just can’t feel that Helen’s really alive’ (1:49:53), Margaret comments to Tibby at Oxford, again giving away the function of the postcards as signifiers of Helen’s problematic ontological stability.

14Other strategies sometimes complement this one, like shooting Helen through window panes that reflect the space off camera (1:14:12), thus suggesting the equivalent of superimpositions. The use at this point in the film (just after the quarrel caused by Henry’s casual remark that the Porphyrion is ‘not a bad business’) of the harp motif that will reappear over the postcard sequence can be seen as proleptic. The window pane can be interpreted as what Christian Metz, after Marc Vernet, calls a ‘diegeticization of the apparatus’. ‘Occasionally, Metz explains, film reproduce more or less faithfully, in the stories they relate, certain elements or characteristics of the cinema or of its equipment, which as a result find themselves to be part of the diegesis’ (Metz 2015, 55). In the present case, it is as if instead of using an actual dissolve or superimposition to signify Helen’s disappearance, Ivory was creating its equivalent by using diegetic elements provided by the setting. The result is very much the same: Helen is no longer quite there, she is absent and present, already spirited away by her secret life abroad. In Vie des fantômes, Jean-Louis Leutrat analyses dissolves and superimpositions as a figure of cinema in terms of haunting: ‘le fondu enchaîné est mouvement, donc transformation donnée à voir in progress, moins une figure de l’absence que celle d’une apparition/disparition, en cela purement cinématographique: il n’y a rien de plus à voir que ce qui est montré’ (Leutrat 124–25). Marc Vernet explains how the ‘trick’ of superimposition reveals what cinema usually conceals, i.e. its fundamental operation of melding two still images into the illusion of a moving one:

si, du côté de la fiction, la surimpression rend visible l’invisible, du côté du discours, ce trucage fait aussi voir ce que le cinéma d’ordinaire dissimule: son opération fondamentale qui consiste à fondre dans le mouvement (mouvement de la pellicule dans l’appareil, mouvement du représenté sur l’écran) deux photogrammes distincts et fixes qu’elle lie en un autre ensemble, fluide. (Vernet 65)

15Thus it is that in Ivory’s filmic version of Howards End, characters who give rise to the production of figures of the ghostly and the spectral also invite an interpretation in terms of reflexivity. Indeed their association with dissolves and superimpositions foregrounds a degree of complicity with the deconstructive potential of the cinematic apparatus: dissolves give away the artifice on which the illusion of presence maintained by a movie show is actually based. Insofar as the cinematic image can paradoxically be seen as a disappearing apparition (and vice-versa), it contradicts the certainties voiced by Henry Wilcox at several key moments in the film in terms of solidity, presence and coincidence to oneself that have been briefly established earlier. Besides, self-awareness is a process that Henry seems to refuse rather than welcome, and the general thrust of the plot suggests that he is an agent of forces that resist what in Freudian terms could be seen as a ‘return of the repressed’—here, his own shameful past, but also perhaps the practical consequences of Ruth’s decision to will her house to Margaret. In gothic studies, the uncanny is often seen as a manifestation of that return, taking the shape of doubles, ghosts or monsters as its vehicle.

16There is even more than that, as Ivory’s film subtly suggests that its characters and situations are no more than the passing and fleeting projections of an artificial ‘mega-narrator’—that ultimate level of analysis of the narrative function that André Gaudreault posits as a necessary to understand the structure of the film (Gaudreault 109). These are moments of the film that can be analysed as metafilmic representations of pre-cinema and/or early cinema. The gesture of flipping a postcard is reminiscent of a device known as the thaumatrope, featured for instance in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (2006). When she visits Henry at the Imperial and West African Rubber Company, Margaret dances with him and Charles looks at them through a vertical slit that is reminiscent of another pre-cinema device called the ‘zoetrope’. This suggestion is reinforced by the repeated presence in the field of the camera of a lamp in the shape of such a device. Lastly, the Basts’ place is also, twice, associated with the ‘flicker’ of early cinema shows, due to the intermittent light coming through the window as trains are passing nearby during the lovemaking scene and again during the nightmare scene. There is in fact a strong suggestion of an analytic deconstruction of the cinematic experience in all three cases: it is as if Ivory was using this effect to undermine the illusion of reality that he is simultaneously creating, in a kind of filmic equivalent of Bertolt Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt or estrangement effect (understood as reflexive devices used in the theatre to produce intellectual understanding rather than emotion or empathy). As Christophe Gelly also convincingly demonstrates in his paper, the use of slow motion and fades to black, among other stylistic irregularities within a relatively classical style, can also be seen as a departure from narrative transparency that signals the artificiality of Ivory’s fictional constructs.

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In the way it stages the departure of intruders while the more legitimate occupants of a house remain, the last sequence of Ivory’s Howards End bears some similarities with the ending of Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others (2001). In the two films, the intruders leave in a car that somehow represents impermanence while those who stay are associated with spectrality and a more lasting relationship to time and place that some may call tradition. The repressed truths (Henry’s past, Ruth’s burnt note) have been unveiled and children can now face the outside world without fear. All is not as simple as that however, as some characters in Ivory’s film do not quite belong in the pattern: Henry Wilcox, throughout the film, has been a figure of the forces of modern rationality that have no clue when they are confronted with the pictures on a book of theosophy. The question he asks Margaret will have no answer but as a question it may well be indicative of a slight change of direction: perhaps self-doubt, as a trace of the power of the uncanny or deconstruction, has begun to unsettle his certainties, based on simple dichotomies and tautologies. The last image of the film is, after all, a fade to black: on the black screen that replaces the bright picture of a pastoral England, anyone is free to project their own answers, as if spectres had the last word, for, as Derrida wrote in Spectres de Marx, ‘Le spectre, c’est aussi, entre autres choses, ce qu’on imagine, ce qu’on croit voir et qu’on projette: sur un écran imaginaire, là où il n’y a rien à voir’ (Derrida 165). Spectrality in Howards End undermines the simple readings of the film in terms of unproblematic interpretations of the conventions of the heritage film. Precisely because the spectral quality of some key characters and scenes, like that of the cinematic apparatus itself, elicits a problematic relationship to the present and the past, the so-called ‘aesthetics of display’ (Higson 172) encounter their limits. Instead what we have is both a quest for the conditions of visibility of the image and a move towards invisibility that invite us to look always further and deeper. This is how Ivory asserts the modernity of his own aesthetics, in terms that cannot be a mere repetition of the modernity of the literary source. As Jacques Rancière has forcefully argued, the respective histories of literature and cinema have resulted in divergent definition of what modernity entails (Rancière 145–163). The paradox is of course that one of the most haunting presences in the film is that of literature itself. The film is full of readers of books, newspapers and magazines and one of the strongest connections between Leonard and the Schlegel sisters is precisely their taste in music and literature—they all know Meredith’s The Ordeal of Richard Feverel by heart, for instance. As we have seen, it is actually the reading of literature that triggers some of the breaches of continuity that have been described earlier. Could it be that ultimately the haunting presence of texts—perhaps including Forster’s—is what gives Ivory’s film its own uncanny quality?

Audeguy, Stéphane, ‘Avant-propos — Ce qui nous hante’, La Nouvelle Revue Française 602 (octobre 2012): 7–13.

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Derrida, Jacques and Bernard Stiegler, Échographies de la télévision, Paris: Galilée, 1996.

Gaudreault, André, Du littéraire au filmique. Système du récit, Paris: Armand Colin, 1999.

Guérin, Marie-Anne, ‘Le collectionneur’, Cahiers du Cinéma 455/456 (mai 1992): 24–25.

Guidée, Raphaëlle, ‘La modernité hantée’, Otrante 25 (printemps 2009): 9–19.

Gunning, Tom, ‘Phantom Images and Modern Manifestations: Spirit Photography, Magic Theater, Trick Films, and Photography’s Uncanny’, Fugitive Images, ed. Patrice Petro, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1995, 42–71.

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Vidal, Belén, Figuring the Past, Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2012.

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1 There is also a network of terms linking together these characters with beings that belong to literature of the supernatural, from the ‘goblin’ of the ‘Music and Meaning’ lecture to the ‘witches and fairies’ of the ‘old superstitions’ loved by Margaret and the ‘spook’ that Dolly claims Miss Avery is. Concerning the word ‘goblin’, the first English translation (1850) of Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto (1848) read ‘A frightful hobgoblin stalks throughout Europe. We are haunted by a ghost. The ghost of Communism’. I thank Howard Booth for communicating this information to me.

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Jean-François Baillon, « Hauntings in James Ivory’s Howards End »Études britanniques contemporaines [En ligne], 58 | 2020, mis en ligne le 01 mars 2020, consulté le 23 octobre 2020. URL :; DOI:

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Jean-François Baillon

Jean-François Baillon teaches English Studies and Film Studies at Bordeaux Montaigne University. Honorary President of SERCIA (Société d’Etudes et de Recherches sur le Cinéma Anglophone), he has published articles on British cinema, British actors and actresses and ‘heritage cinema’ in collective books and in journals such as Mise au Point, Ellipses, CinémAction and Positif. Recent publications: J.-F. Baillon, ed., Howards End, Ellipses, 2019. J.-F. Baillon & Nicolas Labarre, eds., Intermedial Frankensteins (2020), forthcoming.

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