The Mysteries of Eleusis at Howards End: German Romanticism and the Making of a Mythology for England

July 2006
International Journal of the Classical Tradition;Summer2006, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p33
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
Generally read today as a novel concerned with those personal relationships for which Forster has become famous, Howards End is, even more centrally, as it announces on its own pages, a work attempting to create a modern mythology for England. Taking his cue from the Schlegel brothers, Friedrich Schlegel in particular in his "Talk on Mythology" ("Rede über die Mythologie"), who, distressed by the materialism, philosophic and economic, that followed the loss of religious faith and the rise of empiricism, called for the making of new mythologies that could speak for transcendent truth, Forster guides the Schlegel sisters, their obvious surrogates in his book, through a spiritual journey that replicates, in modern form, the ancient rituals of Eleusis. As the literal tale relates events in the lives of individuals, an embedded symbolic narrative traces the steps of the ancient mysteries, showing their relevance to modern life and their function in modern literature.


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