Edward Morgan Forster was born on January 1, 1879, in London, England. He never knew his father, who died when Forster was an infant. Forster graduated from King's College, Cambridge, with B.A. degrees in classics (1900) and history (1901), as well as an M.A. (1910). In the mid-1940s he returned to Cambridge as a professor, living quietly there until his death in 1970. Forster was named to the Order of Companions of Honor to the Queen in 1953. Forster's writing was extensively influenced by the traveling he did in the earlier part of his life. After graduating from Cambridge, he lived in both Greece and Italy, and used the latter as the setting for the novels Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and A Room with a View (1908). The Longest Journey was published in 1907. Howard's End was modeled on the house he lived in with his mother during his childhood. During World War I, he worked as a Red Cross Volunteer in Alexandria, aiding in the search for missing soldiers; he later wrote about these experiences in the nonfiction works Alexandria: A History and Guide and Pharos and Pharillon. His two journeys to India, in 1912 and 1922, resulted in A Passage to India (1924), which many consider to be Forster's best work; this title earned the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Forster wrote only six novels, all prior to 1925 (although Maurice was not published until 1971, a year after Forster's death, probably because of its homosexual theme). For much of the rest of his life, he wrote literary criticism (Aspects of the Novel) and nonfiction, including biographies (Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson), histories, political pieces, and radio broadcasts. Howard's End, A Room with a View, and A Passage to India have all been made into successful films.
Alfred Kazin, a literary critic and professor of English literature, was born in Brooklyn on June 5, 1915. He was educated at City College and Columbia University. Kazin established his own critical reputation in the mid-1940s with On Native Grounds (1942), a study of American literature. His later work, Bright Book of American Life (1973), is both a recapitulation of modernism and an evaluation of American writers who have achieved prominence since 1945. Modernism, a favorite topic of Kazin, is in his view a literary revolution marked by spontaneity and individuality but lacking in precisely the mass culture appeal necessary to its survival. Contemporaries (1962) includes reflective essays on travel, five essays on Freud, and some very perceptive essays on literary and political matters. The final section, "The Critic's Task," concerns itself with the critic's function within a popular and an academic context and with critical theory and principles. Starting Out in the Thirties (1965) describes Kazin's early years with The New Republic as book reviewer and evaluates his contemporaries in a period when the depression and radical political thought, pro and con, deeply affected literary production. In the midst of the current antihumanistic trend in literary theory, Kazin remains a literary critic of the old school, believing in the relevance of literature to modern life. Alfred Kazin died on June 5, 1998.