The intensely, stifling human quality of the novel is not to be avoided; the novel is sogged with humanity; there is no escaping the uplift or the downpour, nor can they be kept out of criticism. We may hate humanity, but if it is exorcised or even purified the novel wilts; little is left but a bunch of words.(AN, pp. 15-16)
In the course of his lifetime, Forster wrote six novels, but that simple statement conceals more than it reveals. Those novels were penned during a period of only twenty years in what was a very long life extending over ninety years. Born in 1879, at the height of the late Victorian period, Forster died in 1970 in a post-modern England. The novels themselves cluster in the first two decades of the twentieth century; the first, Where Angels Fear to Tread, appeared in 1905 and the last written, A Passage to India, was published in 1924. One novel, Maurice, was not published until 1971, but, as Forster notes, it was begun in 1913 and finished in 1914. Its subject - homosexuality - determined that it would wait almost half a century before publication made it available to a general readership.
In addition to the fact that his novels cluster into a short period of his life, Forster also penned his ultimate word on the subject, Aspects of the Novel, as a series of lectures delivered in the spring of 1927, published in the same year, and unaltered in subsequent reissues of the volume. Forster's work is helpfully illuminated both by examining that short work on the novel and by recognising his distinctive position as a novelist, bridging the late Victorian and early modern periods.