Aspects of the Novel

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Aspects of the Novel
First edition
AuthorE. M. Forster
TranslatorAbul Kalam Qasmi (Urdu)
CountryUnited Kingdom
SubjectEnglish literature
PublisherEdward Arnold
Publication date

Aspects of the Novel is a book compiled from a series of lectures delivered by E. M. Forster at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1927, in which he discussed the English language novel. By using examples from classic texts, he highlights the seven universal aspects of the novel: story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.[1]

Some critics have taken issue with the fact that Forster, as a renowned novelist, formulated a normative theory of how to write prose. W. Somerset Maugham commented that, having read the book, "I learned that the only way to write novels was like Mr. E. M. Forster."[2] Virginia Woolf, reviewing Aspects of the Novel in Nation and Athenaeum, on the other hand, praised some aspects of the book. According to Woolf, Forster, unlike other male critics, never exercises stern authority to save the lady (i.e. fiction), he merely acts as a casual friend who happens to have been admitted into the bedroom. Woolf concedes, however, that this is ultimately not very helpful when it comes to formulating rules: "So then we are back in the old bog; nobody knows anything about the laws of fiction".[3]


The book has nine chapters:[4]

  1. Introductory
  2. The Story
  3. The People
  4. The People (continued)
  5. The Plot
  6. Fantasy
  7. Prophecy
  8. Pattern and Rhythm
  9. Conclusion


  1. ^ Forster, E. M. Aspects of the Novel. Mariner Books. (1956) ISBN 978-0156091800
  2. ^ Lavin, Audrey A. P. (Audrey Ann Perlman) (1995). Aspects of the novelist : E. M. Forster's pattern and rhythm. New York: P. Lang. ISBN 0820419664. OCLC 27642577.
  3. ^ E.M. Forster : critical assessments. Stape, J. H. (John Henry). Mountfield near Robertsbridge, East Sussex: Helm Information. c. 1997. ISBN 1873403372. OCLC 39775471.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Summary: "Aspects of the Novel". Retrieved 22 February 2022.


  • Oliver Stallybrass, 'Editor's Introduction', in Aspects of the Novel (Penguin Books, 1980)