11 August

11 August 1920

2 Portland Villas, Hampstead - London

The delightful event of a new story by Mr E. M. Forster sets us wishing that it had not been so long to wait between his last novel and his new book. He is one of the very few younger English writers whose gifts are of a kind to compel our curiosity as well as our admiration. There is in all his novels a very delicate sense of the value of atmosphere, a fine precision of expression, and his appreciation of the uniqueness of the characters he portrays awakens in him a kind of special humour, half whimsical, half sympathetic. It is in his best-known novel, Howard's End, that he is most successful in conveying to the reader the effect of an assurance that he possesses a vision which reigns within; but in Howard's End, though less than elsewhere, we are teased by the feeling, difficult to define, that he has by no means exerted the whole of his imaginative power to create that world for his readers. This, indeed, it is which engages our curiosity. How is it that the writer is content to do less than explore his own delectable country?
There is a certain leisureliness which is of the very essence of Mr Forster's style - a constant and fastidious choosing of what the unity shall be composed - but while admitting the necessity for this and the charm of it, we cannot deny the danger to the writer of drifting, of finding himself beset with fascinating preoccupations which tempt him to put off or even to turn aside from the difficulties which are outside his easy reach. [. . .] [Review of The Story of the Siren by E.M. Forster, Athenaeum,  13 August 1920]