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Chapter 1 - The Rhythm of the Racial Other

Before Aspects of the Novel

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 April 2021

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Summary

The first chapter contextualizes Forster’s ‘rhythm’ in Aspects of the Novel within the contemporary currency of the term in evolutionary discourses on non-Western cultures, arguing that his conception of ‘rhythm’ as an aesthetics of fiction is preceded by his use of the term to interrogate the conditioning of epistemology in cross-cultural encounters. Analysing two articles on music Forster wrote in Egypt, a 1912 essay by Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson about Anglo-India, as well as A Passage to India, it proposes that Forster was alert to the many problems of subjectivity, perspective, and language in delineating the racial other, and that his representations of rhythm in the novel suggest a significant, and previously unacknowledged, negotiation of the plurality of musical cultures. The chapter thus challenges the critical notion of rhythm as reflective purely of modernist fascination with form and intermediality. Complicating the long-held dichotomy of aesthetics and politics in modernist scholarship, it recovers the racial connotations of Forster’s ‘rhythm’ in Aspects, offering a new understanding of his aspiration for ‘expansion’ as a reconfiguration of the racial other.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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