Friday, 28 October 2016

Some funny lines in A Room with a View, or maybe I keep laughing in the wrong places

Reading A Room with a View, I sometimes laughed at a phrase or clause that I wasn't sure was meant to be funny.
(Emphasis mine)
Like on the 1st page:
"She looked at the two rows of English people who were sitting at the table; at the row of white bottles of water and red bottles of wine that ran between the English people; at the portraits of the late Queen and the late Poet Laureate that hung behind the English people, heavily framed; at the notice of the English church (Rev. Cuthbert Eager, M. A. Oxon.), that was the only other decoration of the wall."
Or this whole sentence a few pages later:
"He preferred to talk to Lucy, whose playing he remembered, rather than to Miss Bartlett, who probably remembered his sermons."
The information given is a bit strange, I think, or it's the structure of the sentence. 
The funniness of this line is perhaps intended: 
"The clergyman, inwardly cursing the female sex, bowed, and departed with her message." 
Or this line, in the same chapter: 
"The young man gazed down on the three ladies, who felt seated on the floor, so low were their chairs." 
This is how E. M. Forster ends chapter 1: 
"Then she completed her inspection of the room, sighed heavily according to her habit, and went to bed." 
Maybe my laughing is what he intended. The "according to her habit" just sounds funny to me. 
What do I see in chapter 2 then? This is the 1st line: 
"It was pleasant to wake up in Florence, to open the eyes upon a bright bare room, with a floor of red tiles which look clean though they are not; with a painted ceiling whereon pink griffins and blue amorini sport in a forest of yellow violins and bassoons." 
Feel like I keep laughing in the wrong places. 


  1. i like Forster a lot. there always has seemed to be low level humor in everything he wrote, even in "A Passage to India": i'm thinking about the scene in the Malabar caves, the echos - a kind of deep chuckle over the silliness of human behavior; a slightly different pov in "The Story of a Panic", wherein the directness of children is juxtaposed to the "normal" reactions of adults as regarding ancient arborean spirits... perhaps not so much humor as a cosmic viewpoint from which social activities demonstrate pointlessness in comparison to the realities of the universe... hmmm i could have said the above in a much simpler way i'm sure; i notice that the words sometimes drive the sentence before the brain gets in gear...

    1. Perhaps I didn't laugh in the wrong places after all.
      I haven't read other works by Forster.

  2. I just read Chapter 1. Every one of those is an intentional joke, except perhaps your first example, which is merely vivid.