Aspects of the Novel, EM Forster

“But in the novel we can know people perfectly, and, apart from the general pleasure of reading, we can find here a compensation for their dimness in life. In this direction fiction is truer than history, because it goes beyond the evidence, and each of us knows from his own experience that there is something beyond the evidence, and, even if the novelist has not got it correctly, well- he has tried. He can post his people in as babies, he can cause them to go on without sleep or food, he can make them be in love, love and nothing but love, provided he seems to know everything about them, provided they are his creations. That is why Moll Flanders cannot be here, that is one of the reasons why Amelia and Emma cannot be here. They are people whose secret lives are visible or might be visible; we are people whose secret lives are invisible.

And that is why novels, even when they are about wicked people, can solace us: they suggest a more comprehensible and thus more manageable human race, they give us the illusion of perspicacity and of power.” EM Forster Aspects of the Novel 1927


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