Buddenbrooks is one of my favorite novels, one of the great novels about young people and family. I found a nice copy of The Magic Mountain (translated by John E. Woods) and bought it and find it just as moving, funny, insightful, and essential as Buddenbrooks.
Proust is on pause once again.
On a Proust break and picked up my favorite Forster novel The Longest Journey, one of the great novels about young people. It’s the Forster book few Forster fans have read, and yet to me it remains his great achievement, a great small tale of a young man’s life and times as an undergraduate and then set free from school. Rickie Elliott is a vibrant character, a sharp, club-footed, and cautious young man who is entranced by philosophy and art and aims to have a go as a writer. He’s in love with Agnes, who is engaged to Gerald, but Gerald dies in a soccer match and Rickie steps in (and up). Here’s blunt Forster informing us of Gerald’s death (Chapter 5):
Gerald died that afternoon. He was broken up in the football match. Rickie and Mr. Pembroke were on the ground when the accident took place. It was no good torturing him by a drive to the hospital, and he was merely carried to the little pavilion and laid upon the floor. A doctor came, and so did a clergyman, but it seemed better to leave him for the last few minutes with Agnes, who had ridden down on her bicycle.
Chapter 9 is epistolary and worth a read. Note how Forster voices the differing youthful intelligence. Writing this good is not found in YA novels.