Music as Queering in E. M. Forster’s ‘Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson’

Music as Queering in E. M. Forster’s ‘Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson’ Abstract At the end of his biography, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (1934), E. M. Forster claims that he has not fulfilled the task of producing a work that ‘would resemble’ his deceased friend: ‘ And perhaps it only could be done through music.’ More than simply a metaphor for the modern self in a newly conceptualized form of biographical writing, music, this article argues, plays a significant role in the biography’s representation of Dickinson’s homosexuality. It proposes that Forster’s references to actual music, especially to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, endow the biography with a queer subtext, thus both saying and unsaying Dickinson’s homosexual desire. In so doing, the article aims to broaden the recent musical-literary discussion of music, sexuality, and words by focusing on a text that has not received its due critical attention. It also seeks to contribute to current life-writing studies by highlighting the presence of music in modernist engagement with different forms of writing lives. In 1921, the Cambridge don Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (1862–1932) started his autobiography. A liberal intellectual who taught political science at Cambridge and London, Dickinson is today mostly remembered for his contribution to the founding of the League of Nations after the First World War. Writing candidly and insistently about his homosexual awakening, boot fetish, and relationships with five men (‘it is my object, in these reminiscences, to tell what is usually not told’), he produced a complete manuscript entitled ‘Recollections’ alongside several other short accounts about his life.1 At Dickinson’s death in 1932, E. M. Forster was bequeathed these materials and given full authority over the publication of their details. Dickinson did not specify whether Forster should oversee the publication, but his private wish was unequivocally expressed in a letter to Forster: if anything were to be published, ‘the sex part should be omitted’.2 Soon afterwards, Forster accepted the request from Dickinson’s sisters to write a biography. He adopted the general structure of ‘Recollections’ and quoted liberally from it and from other texts in Dickinson’s published oeuvre. The end result, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (1934), is Forster’s first book-length prose work after A Passage to India (1924).3 The biography remains faithful to Dickinson’s wish by avoiding explicit discussion of Dickinson’s homosexuality, although, as Oliver Stallybrass comments in his introduction to the Abinger edition of the biography, there are hints scattered throughout the book.4 Music, this article argues, plays a significant role in the biography’s representation of Dickinson’s homosexuality; it enables Forster to avoid as well as to hint at Dickinson’s homosexual desire and to construct Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson as a queer text. That is, music provides Forster with a means of narrating and problematizing Dickinson’s emergence into a queer consciousness specifically, and exploring, alongside other contemporaries, ways to reinvent the forms of life-writing more generally. If queer theory is, in Lee Edelman’s words, ‘intent … on instructing hegemonic culture in the necessity of a different understanding of difference’, Forster’s use of music produces a life-narrative not only resistant to one single interpretation, but also demanding multiple readings of its inner contradictions and suggestiveness.5 As such, the biography simultaneously points to the provisionality of the homosexual subject, couples coherence with ellipses and gaps, and calls into question the possibility of knowing ‘the dead’ for both the biographer and the readers. In its protean role as theme, image, and formal device, music thus stands as the central figure in this article. At the centre of this protean use of music is Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata (Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2). In ‘Recollections’, Dickinson described how as a child he was once captivated by the sonata. Although he did not announce his life-long fascination with the non-authorial title of the music, his enchantment with the moonlight imagery is manifest in his repeated descriptions of his subsequent spiritual experiences under the moon. As Forster’s biography refers to Dickinson’s childhood musical experience and to most of the moonlit spiritual moments he described, it seems clear that Forster picked up on the significance of the moonlight motif to Dickinson. Yet Forster also departs from ‘Recollections’ by using the moonlight motif to create an intricate allusive system. His use of music encompasses not only specific references to actual musical works and citations of Dickinson’s musical experiences, but also imagery and allusions related to or associated with music, as well as invocations to music as a concept for a new form of biographical writing. This article argues that such a protean use of music allows Forster to endow the biography’s depiction of Dickinson’s aesthetic spiritualism with queer undertones, thus saying and unsaying Dickinson’s homosexual desire. In so doing, the biography substitutes the candidness of ‘Recollections’ with doubt and uncertainty regarding Dickinson’s private life, which culminates in Forster’s declaration of his failure to produce something that ‘would resemble [Dickinson]’ in the epilogue to the biography. The queerness of Forster’s biography thus lies in its interrogation of its autobiographical source material and undermining of its own authority. Although Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson is not an example of what Max Saunders calls ‘biografiction’—it is after all a formal biography—it is an example of modernist engagement with life-writing: it experiments with the blurred boundary between art and life, between fiction and auto/biography, and expresses an interest in exploring the very unknowability of one’s interiority while registering the crisis in representation and the dissolution of self.6 As we shall see, Forster’s use of music is formative to the biography’s negotiations of these issues. Past criticism of the biography ignores its various allusions to music and focuses mostly on Forster’s formal reinvention of the genre. Judith Scherer Herz and Ilona M. McGuiness, for instance, have commented on how Forster’s narrative voice alternately blends with Dickinson’s and withdraws into aside, drawing the reader’s attention to Dickinson’s construction of self as well as to the social criteria by which Dickinson’s world operated, and thus replacing the authorial confidence of the Victorian biographer with purposefully constrained and limited intervention.7 Their readings anticipate the currently buoyant research on the sense of aporia and incompleteness in modernist life-writing.8 In a recent collection of essays on modernism and autobiography, Maria DiBattista and Emily O. Wittman explain elegantly that ‘[m]odernist retrospection seldom reinserts itself seamlessly into the past, but proceeds, if proceeds is the word, along a meditative course riddled with ellipses, plagued by lapses in memories, and compromised by deliberate omissions’.9 If Forster’s biography, with its story arc built around the unsaid and the disjointed, typifies the characteristics of modernist biographical writing, its omission of Dickinson’s sexual life generates specific implications for modern theorizations of queer life-writing. Recent queer reassessments of the biography have reclaimed the book’s value by countering claims that Forster turned away from writing about Dickinson’s homosexuality. By discussing the biography as a reflection of and on closeted desires, critics have historicized its significance within contemporary queer communities, such as queer Bloomsbury and apostolic Cambridge.10 Writing in the same vein, Wendy Moffat observes how the biography was for Forster ‘a filial act’—his ‘personal’ response to ‘the threat of the utter extinction of homosexual lives’.11 These readings have highlighted Forster’s biography within modernist and queer studies, yet it is surprising that none of them has examined how Forster’s exploration of ways of representing homosexuality is facilitated by his employment of music. An exception is Ruth Hoberman’s discussion of Forster’s biography alongside Virginia Woolf’s Roger Fry (1940). She argues that the two works employ music as a metaphor for the modern self.12 They both downplay the role of the biographer by letting the subject ‘speak’ via numerous quotations, compiled and arranged in a way that creates ‘the recurrence and repetition of ideas, images, concerns’.13 The result is ‘a personality both open-ended and coherent’ in Forster’s case, and a diffused and decentred subject living through ‘[r]hythmic irregularities’ in Woolf’s.14 If Woolf’s biography seems a more systematically experimental biography in its evocation of a ‘musical quality’, it is because Forster’s work provides a precedent. Hoberman traces the musical aesthetics of both biographies back to Forster’s discussion of ‘rhythm’ as a new literary formal device in Aspects of the Novel (1927). On the one hand, Hoberman’s reading goes against the grain of Woolf’s private critique of Forster’s biography as ‘futile’.15 It is perhaps more than interesting that Forster, after the publication of Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, wrote in his diary that he would ‘not do a book on Roger Fry’.16 Hoberman thus attends to the complicated personal relationships of this Bloomsbury quartet—the two writers and their two subjects. On the other hand, by analysing the musical aesthetics of the two biographies, she highlights music’s influence on both authors’ conceptions of biographical writing. Yet in perceiving music as a purely metaphorical concept, Hoberman’s reading overlooks the fact that, on a biographical level, music was an art form being performed and consumed in contemporary domestic and social life. Consequently, her interpretations of Forster’s biography in particular fail to acknowledge the presence of many references to actual music, let alone their meanings and implications. In many ways Hoberman’s study is typical of previous approaches to music in literary criticism: taken either metaphorically or symbolically, music was often understood to influence literature, especially modernist literature, by contributing to the reconceptualization of literary narrative.17 However, the disciplinary shift within musicology, from analysing music as a non-referential art form to a more contextual understanding of music as an event taking place in a specific historical moment, has enabled literary criticism to reassess the intersection between music and literature. As Phyllis Weliver observes, critical musicology, or ‘new’ musicology, has energized fresh readings of nineteenth-century literary works that deal with music.18 In parallel, studies focusing on how literary works from other periods were informed by their respective musical cultures have also been burgeoning.19 One aspect of this new musicological inquiry, particularly stimulating to musical-literary scholarship, is the exploration of the relationship between music and sexuality. Critics such as Susan McClary, Ruth Solie, and many others have demonstrated how music’s powerful affectivity has long been regarded as subversive, associated with female sexual desire, and used to stand for the ‘excess’, ‘abnormal’, ‘other’.20 Broadening feminist musicology’s understanding of ‘other’, Philip Brett’s work examines the connection between music and homosexuality, paving the way for subsequent studies of music and queer identity.21 As Sophie Fuller and Lloyd Whitesell observe, ‘musical expression and the expression of queer sexuality were sympathetically linked’ around the turn of the twentieth century.22 In literary criticism, scholars have shown how music had been coded as an expression of homosexual desire and used to allude to a more obscure, more indefinable and unspeakable, thus ‘queer’, identity in various discourses by the late nineteenth century.23 By studying the ways in which Forster uses music to say and unsay the homosexuality of his biographical subject, the present article extends the inquiry of recent musical-literary scholarship and highlights a genre that has not been sufficiently explored by critics working in this field. Forster’s use of music in his non-fictional works has not received its due critical attention. ‘I love music’, Forster declared at the opening of his 1947 lecture at the Harvard Music Symposium.24 He was an ardent and astute musical amateur, and his engagement with music was enduring—from the first decade of his life in the 1880s to the last decade of his life in the 1960s when his deafness became a major hindrance to his enjoyment of music. It was also diverse: he was a listener, a pianist, a concert-goer, an opera enthusiast, a librettist, a friend of musical professionals, a collaborator with musicians, and, most importantly, a writer who wrote constantly about music in his work.25 From the concert scene in Howards End (1910) to his collaboration with Benjamin Britten on Billy Budd (1951), Forster’s engagement with music has been discussed extensively by critics in order to understand his aesthetic aim and political viewpoint. Yet these musical-literary analyses have often taken their cue from Britten’s 1969 tribute to Forster as ‘our most musical novelist’ and privileged novels over other genres of writing.26 The same critical tendency to bypass his non-fiction appears in studies concerning Forster’s representation of music as suggestive of sexual, and homosexual, desire. For example, while critics have commented on his use of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (‘Pathétique’) to delineate the protagonist’s sexual awakening in Maurice (1971), there has been no equivalent discussion of the biography’s construction of the queer identity of Dickinson.27 Another aim of the article is to demonstrate the importance of music to modernist engagement with life-writing. This is partially to complement the recent critical interest in modern life-writing’s indebtedness to the visual arts, especially portrait painting. Max Saunders’s Self Impression, a major contribution to modernist studies, sheds new light on ‘the varieties of modern transformation of life-writing’ through an investigation into the many areas, genres, and forms of writing where ‘the borders between autobiography, biography, and fiction intersect’.28 The ‘portrait’ is a central theme in his literary history, from Walter Pater via impressionism to modernism and beyond, illustrating how ‘literary portraiture changes markedly through the long turn-of-the-century from the 1870s to the 1930s’ and how this phenomenon, embodied by the many auto/biografictional experiments in imaginary portraits and fictional authorship, crystallizes contemporary rumination on the concepts of personality, subjectivity, and the boundary between art and ‘life’.29 If the notion of the ‘portrait’ has such a prominent role in life-writing studies, the present article aims to open up an equally fertile space for music through a discussion of its significance in Forster’s biography. By analysing the ways in which Forster weaves into his biography Dickinson’s childhood experience of listening to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata and his subsequent spiritual experiences in the moonlight, this article reveals that Forster creates a queer undercurrent beneath the depiction of Dickinson’s aesthetic spiritualism. The more ambiguity Forster’s use of music generates, the more significant its role is to the construction of the queer identity of both authors. The article thus broadens the musical-literary discussion of music, sexuality, and words by focusing on a text that has been under-discussed within Forster scholarship and by highlighting the presence of music in modernist life-writing. * * * When writing about his childhood in suburban London in ‘Recollections’, Dickinson mentioned how ‘[c]urious things come back to me like scents from the past’.30 ‘Lying in bed in the dusk, listening to the Moonlight Sonata played below’ was first in his list of memories, followed by others which are also related to music, such as ‘singing, in a little piping voice, a song about a little fish’, and ‘singing hymns on Sunday evening’.31 That Dickinson prioritized and included specific details about listening to Beethoven’s sonata suggests the vividness of the memory to him. This is further evidenced by an earlier draft of ‘Recollections’: Dusk in bed is a very penetrating memory of my childhood, and the gradual coming on of darkness. In particular it is associated for me with music, my cousin Helen, when she stayed with us, playing below in the from Beethoven, especially the ‘Moonlight’ sonata comes back to me in that environment, mysteriously accumulating something that was at once terror and beauty upon the gathering gloom.32 Dickinson’s awareness of ‘something’ reflects music’s non-verbal evocativeness; alluding to the Burkean sublime, his description reveals an undefinable state of mind conjured up by the music. By choosing not to probe into its effect in the later, more succinct version of this memory in ‘Recollections’, Dickinson perhaps sought to distil the emotional profundity of the experience in the tableau itself. Forster’s biography reveals that he was aware of the significance of the memory to Dickinson. Although it is unclear whether Forster had read the earlier draft, it was among the documents left to him. More importantly, in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, he quotes the version in ‘Recollections’ verbatim.33 The revealing difference is that, while ‘Recollections’ refers to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata only once, Forster’s biography makes two other references to the music. The first is in the chapter on Dickinson in his preparatory boarding school, Beomonds. Young Dickinson was distanced, as Forster describes, from ‘the world of Ariel’, being stuck in an environment where, ‘[i]nstead of the Moonlight Sonata, floating up through the floor’, boys’ obscene words were constantly heard.34 The second reference to the music appears in a moment of spiritual awakening during Dickinson’s mostly unhappy public-school years at Charterhouse. Much bored with trying to decipher Greek from its original, the teenage Dickinson suddenly became enlightened when his sixth-form master was reading an English translation of Aristophanes’s poetry. In ‘Recollections’, Dickinson wrote, ‘[f]or a moment a door sprang ajar. … It closed again. But the experience remains with me.’35 In the biography, Forster pauses to contemplate the significance of the moment for Dickinson, asking ‘What had happened? … What was this new existence?’ and then answering himself: ‘Dickinson had had a glimpse of the land which was his home.’ One wonders, sharing his exultation, and knowing that in later life he could enter that land at will: one wonders why he did not stay there constantly, always with Ariel and Love the delightful, and rapture and sunlight and the Moonlight Sonata, where sorrow is transformed into grace. Here was his home, and he admitted as much. Yet he entered only to withdraw, and to return to the anarchy whose dark premonition had been shown to him at school. Was it that school, acting on his raw character, had warped him? Or was it, as he came to maintain, that the world of Ariel will not satisfy us until Caliban is tamed, Antonio reformed, and Prospero restored to his kingdom? Perhaps the difference between his boyhood and manhood was that as a boy he could not escape from the horrors of existence, and that as a man he would not escape from them. To a man of his character this constituted a profound difference, and he was never again to be as unhappy as at Beomonds and Charterhouse.36 Whereas Dickinson shortens and, in a way, neutralizes his description of the childhood memory in the final manuscript, Forster’s further two references to the sonata reveal his own intention to highlight the symbolic importance of the memory to Dickinson. By characterizing the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata as a spiritual and aesthetic anchor of Dickinson’s confrontation with ‘the anarchy’, Forster delineates Dickinson’s psychological maturation as the process of a self being gradually exposed, and adapting itself, to the hostility of the outside world. Beethoven’s sonata provides Forster with a means to evoke the side of Dickinson hidden from, but constantly in negotiation with, the public. Forster combines both references to the sonata with allusions to Ariel.37 He characterizes Ariel’s world as a realm ‘where neither obedience nor disobedience existed, and the only sacrament was beauty’.38 Yet, as is clear in the long quotation above, Forster perceives Dickinson’s entry into the realm as intervallic: Ariel’s company brings Dickinson inner solace, but only transiently; an escape is followed inevitably by a return. The Charterhouse incident foreshadows Dickinson’s continual vacillation between private and public lives, between staying cloistered at Cambridge and dedicating himself to international political affairs, thus marking an important juncture of Forster’s narrative of Dickinson’s life.39 This intervallic pattern of dedication to and withdrawal from public life, I suggest, is evoked by Ariel’s association with music. Although Forster does not specifically describe Ariel’s musical prowess, the magic of Ariel’s music in The Tempest is written into these allusions, characterizing Dickinson’s retreat from public as free, creative, but also temporary. Another allusion to Ariel in the biography reveals how Ariel and his music enable Forster to allude to these characteristics simultaneously. Commenting on Dickinson’s verse drama, The Magic Flute (1920), an adaptation of Mozart and Schikaneder’s opera as a philosophical rumination on war, religion, and civilization, Forster regards it as Dickinson’s ‘chief incursion into the kingdom of Ariel’.40 The reference to Ariel alludes partially to the musical inspiration behind the verse drama, and partially to the verse drama’s diegetic examination of escapism: Tamino, the main character, finds Buddhist denunciation of human desire and flight from life inadequate on his quest for Truth.41 What stands out is the word ‘incursion’, which is defined by the OED as ‘a hostile inroad or invasion; esp. one of sudden and hasty character; a sudden attack’. It thus ironically celebrates Dickinson’s pacifism but also characterizes his immersion in creativity and imagination as brief. Music, whether it is the childhood memory of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata or Ariel’s magical tunes, is thus employed by Forster to present how Dickinson, in private, yearned for and found solace, however temporarily, in art and beauty. Forster’s references to the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata also play a structural role in the biography. As mentioned above, the images of moonlight are scattered throughout Dickinson’s ‘Recollections’; numerous episodes during which he discovered beauty, serenity, and inspiration in art, nature, and personal interaction in his adult life take place in moonlit scenes.42 Forster’s biography refers to most of these moonlit episodes where, as he describes, Dickinson experienced ‘a heightening of normal consciousness’.43 There is, for example, in Dickinson’s early Cambridge years, a memorable ‘moonlit evening spent in the grounds of Trinity’ with a friend; the landscapes in Shelley’s poetry were for Dickinson ‘always shimmering with moonlit streams’; ‘a moonlight walk’ was part of the background when he was writing his first book, From King to King (1891); Dickinson’s stroll in Mistra, Greece, was ‘under the full moon round the deserted streets and churches’; and he saw a ‘full moon’ during his stay in a temple on Tai-Shan, China, in 1913.44 Moonlight is everywhere in the biography. Read alongside these depictions of actual moonlight, the three references to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata woven into the narrative about Dickinson’s pre-Cambridge years are a device that prepares and augments the recurrence of the image in the latter part of the book. If, as previously suggested, music is used as a synecdoche for Dickinson’s spiritual and aesthetic haven away from the public, the association of the moonlight imagery with Dickinson’s ‘heighten[ed]’ ‘consciousness’ suggests how Forster’s references to Beethoven’s music in Dickinson’s early years are signposts for what comes afterwards. That is, ‘Moonlight’, the non-authorial title of Beethoven’s sonata, provides Forster with a running motif by which the life-narrative unfolds the repetition and variation of Dickinson’s aesthetic spiritualism, and with which the biography gains a degree of thematic coherence. That Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ is a crucial part in the narrative about the solipsistic and contemplative Dickinson not only suggests Forster’s awareness of the recurrence of the moonlight imagery in Dickinson’s autobiography but also marks his endeavour to use the sonata to give form to the biography. Forster’s use of Beethoven’s sonata, then, suggests two perceptions of music: as powerfully evocative, which enables him to reveal the solipsistic and spiritual part of Dickinson previously unavailable to public awareness, and as formally unifying, which brings together discrete parts of Dickinson’s life. In the biography’s epilogue, Forster imagines a challenge from Mephistopheles, who asks him, the biographer, to ‘state objectively why a memoir of Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson need be written’.45 No external life-events, not a great writer, not a renowned philosopher, and with the future of the League of Nations uncertain, Forster finds himself unable to defend his cause against the devil’s questioning: ‘a biography of my friend and master [is] uncalled for’.46 Yet this mention of their friendship seems to galvanize the biographer in his resistance: Blinded by arithmetic, deaf to the warnings of poetry, [Mephistopheles] assumes that a man is only the sum of his qualities, and it is to the qualities named at the beginning of this epilogue, the ‘beloved, affectionate, unselfish, intelligent, witty, charming’ which were so easily brushed aside, that I return for his overthrow. These qualities in Goldie were fused into such an unusual creature that no one whom one has met with in the flesh or in history the least resembles it, and no words exist in which to define it. He was an indescribably rare being, he was rare without being enigmatic, he was rare in the only direction which seems to be infinite: the direction of the Chorus Mysticus. He did not merely increase our experience: he left us more alert for what has not yet been experienced and more hopeful about other men because he had lived. And a biography of him, if it succeeded, would resemble him; it would achieve the unattainable, express the inexpressible, turn the passing into the everlasting. Have I done that? Das Unbeschreibliche hier ist’s getan? No. And perhaps it only could be done through music. But that is what has lured me on.47 This passage makes it evident that music is seminal to Forster’s conception of biographical writing. On the one hand, the imaginary conversation is not only a reference or a tribute to the dialogue form much used by Dickinson himself in his own works, but also uses the quotation from Faust to recall Dickinson’s lifelong admiration for Goethe.48 On the other hand, the quotation from the Chorus Mysticus, which concludes the second part of Faust, reminds the reader of a long list of musical works based on the Faust story, including Schumann’s Scenes from Goethe’s Faust (1853), Liszt’s Faust Symphony (1857), and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony (1910), where the ‘chorus’ is no longer words on paper but actually sung. If this quotation, which accompanies the ascension of the reborn Faust in Goethe’s play, suggests Forster’s perception of the biography as a genre of resurrection, it also highlights the importance of music to his project of bringing back the dead—or, as he says elsewhere in the biography, capturing the ‘evanescent’.49 This is not the only time Forster invokes music at the end of a life-narrative. In The Hill of Devi (1953), a memoir of the Maharajah of Dewas, which comprises Forster’s letters from India in 1912–13 and in 1921 interspersed with his accounts of the history of the state and the life events of the Maharajah, Forster concludes: One of the puzzling things about the dead is that it is impossible to think of them evenly. They all go out of sight and are forgotten, they all go into silence, yet we cannot help assigning some of them a tune. Most of those whom I have known leave no sound behind them, I cannot evoke them though I would like to. [The Maharajah] has the rare quality of evoking himself, and I do not believe that he is here doing it for the last time.50 Read alongside the epilogue to Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, both endings are mildly celebratory, but at the same time they ruminate on the difficulty of conveying the personality of the dead. The unevenness Forster notes in The Hill of Devi echoes his concern with presenting Dickinson as ‘an unusual creature’ of perceived characteristics. Dickinson is then beyond definition, which is comparable to music’s after-effect, while the Maharajah’s idiosyncratic ‘tune’ refuses to be silenced and thus defies the descent into oblivion. In both cases, the analogy of music helps the biographer resist closure, resist rounding off a narrative despite his awareness of its finiteness. Both works thus demonstrate Forster’s perception of music as evocative, of its effect as lingering and resonant, of its expressiveness beyond verbal referentiality. These characteristics of music underpin Forster’s aesthetics of biographical writing. Forster’s re-conceptualization of biography as a musical enterprise echoes his deliberately vague discussion of ‘rhythm’ in Aspects of the Novel. Although at one point in his discussion Forster claims that ‘If the correct musical term is something else, that does not matter’, his acknowledgement that ‘when people apply rhythm … they are apt not to say what they mean’ and his invitation to the audience to ‘edge rather nervously towards the idea of “rhythm”’ suggest his alertness to the challenges and problems posed by contemporary conceptual borrowings between different artistic disciplines.51 In music, Forster identifies the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which ‘we can all hear and tap to’, as ‘easy’ rhythm and the effect through which, ‘when the orchestra stops’, we hear the Symphony ‘as a whole’, as an ‘entity’ whose ‘three big blocks of sound’ have been linked together as ‘difficult’ rhythm.52 In literature, Forster perceives ‘easy’ rhythm as ‘repetition plus variation’, exemplified by Vinteuil’s petite phrase in Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, a novel which, though appearing ‘ill-constructed’, ‘hangs together because it is stitched internally’.53 As for difficult rhythm, Forster provides no examples, only suggesting that Tolstoy’s War and Peace is the work closest to producing this ‘rhythmic’ effect.54 Like the end of a symphony when ‘notes and tunes composing it have been liberated’, the last page of Tolstoy’s novel gives one an impression that ‘every item … lead[s] a larger existence than was possible at the time’; it is, Forster suggests, ‘[e]xpansion’ rather than ‘completion’.55 It seems that Forster conceptualizes literary ‘rhythm’ as inspired by, but not identical to, musical rhythm; his ‘easy’ rhythm seems to point to a certain motivic design within a novel, while what he describes as ‘difficult’ rhythm seems a mixture of coherence and ambiguity at the same time: a certain narrative unity that catalyses a reader’s mental reordering and grouping of discrete textual details and thus helps to generate multiple interpretations. Though difficult to pin down, Forster’s approach to ‘rhythm’ seems to be exemplified in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson. The moonlight imagery (the references to the sonata included) links various moments of Dickinson’s life together as a running motif and can thus be read as his attempt at creating ‘easy’ rhythm. The resulting coherence, plus the ambiguity produced by Forster’s appeal to music in his confessed failure to convey Dickinson’s personality at the end of the biography, can be read as something close to ‘difficult’ rhythm. The central tenet of my discussion here is that Aspects of the Novel has a wider application than its title suggests. Though not a novel, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson continues the interest expressed in Aspects that music may be used to re-conceptualize the form of literary narrative.56 In other words, music influences Forster’s writings, fiction and non-fiction alike. From a device to represent or evoke Dickinson’s solipsistic yearning for spiritual solace, to a source for an image that contributes to the structure of the biography, to a new conception of biographical writing as a musical enterprise, music plays a significant role in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson thematically, aesthetically, and formally. Yet there is another dimension: underlying the association of music with spiritualism, aesthetics, and form, Forster’s representation of music suggests a further story. In the biography, there is a paragraph specifically about Dickinson’s musical knowledge, taste, and instrumental playing. We learn that Dickinson was an ardent musical amateur, played the piano and the violin, sometimes in a duet with another Cambridge don, Oscar Browning, and appreciated works by, in particular, Wagner and Mozart, as well as Gluck, Schubert, Bach, and Beethoven. ‘His feeling for music went far beyond the sensitiveness of the ordinary cultivated man’, Forster observes, ‘and had his specific gift been adequate he might here have achieved the ideal which he vainly pursued through poetry.’57 For Dickinson, music was ‘not an extension of his life, but a revelation which … convinced him of transcendental truth’.58 This observation that Dickinson perceived music as revelatory and transcendental echoes the depiction of the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata as a synecdoche of Dickinson’s aesthetic spiritualism and is not far from some of the contemporary impressions of Dickinson as a ‘mystic’.59 Yet these seemingly ‘normal’ details about Dickinson’s engagement with music give us pause for thought. As mentioned above, music had become associated with homosexual desire in certain contexts by the late nineteenth century. Wagnerism, in particular, became aligned with decadence after the Wilde trials, and ‘artists were careful to dissociate themselves from charges of homosexuality’ when referring to Wagner in the aftermath.60 Dickinson’s interest in Wagner, plus his duets with the notoriously camp Browning, would have been details suggestive enough for contemporaries attuned to the queer nuances of these musical activities. Forster’s description of Dickinson, not as an aesthete whose overt musical sensibilities and susceptibilities suggested erotic experiences and excess desires, but as an amateur who seemed to engage with music knowledgably and discreetly, is thus queer, both saying and unsaying Dickinson’s homosexuality. If the description reflects Forster’s alertness to the associations of music with aestheticism and decadence, and thus his intention to diverge consciously from what had become familiar and banal, it also hints at, approximates, invites speculation over, but simultaneously resists confirming, the possibility of Dickinson being a homosexual man. The biography therefore manipulates its readers, first manoeuvring them into a spiritual, aesthetic, and formal reading of the role of music in the biography, but constantly destabilizing this reading by gesturing towards music’s queer undertones. The multiple perceptions of music explored by the biography—as revelatory, transcendental, aesthetically providing solace, and formally unifying, but also as suggestive, associative, evocative, lingering, expressive, and subversive—enable Forster to give a queer subtext to his life-narrative about Dickinson. The seeming coherence of Dickinson’s life as a crescendo of spirituality thus breaks up with gaps and ellipses, and it is Beethoven’s sonata that facilitates the revealing of the untold. The sonata’s contained but mournful adagio sostenuto, its calm and balanced allegretto, its turbulent, ferocious, almost unquenchable presto agitato, plus the widespread legends about Beethoven’s dedication of the sonata to a young countess, and the well-known title of the sonata that infuses the music with decidedly impressionistic dreaminess and further ‘romanticizes’ the work—all of these, familiar to Forster and his contemporaries, make the sonata an available coding for Dickinson’s unrequited and unspeakable sexual desire.61 That the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata is a crucial part of an intricate allusive system augments the effectiveness of its being a code, endowing the life-narrative with recurrent moments of saying and unsaying. The tableau of Dickinson’s childhood listening to the sonata, in which the surroundings gradually lose their contours among the floating musical sounds, becomes a telling reverie of escapism and longing. Read in this way, Dickinson’s revision of the childhood memory, his deletion of the music’s impact on him, becomes meaningful. It seems that Dickinson, by condensing the depiction of the moment into a tableau, was concealing the impact of the music on his mind. The revision becomes almost an indication of Dickinson’s awareness of the queer undertones of his attachment to Beethoven’s sonata; it seems that he avoided going into detail about the music’s effect on him exactly because he was conscious of the implications of what he had written. As such, the revision seems to suggest symptoms of homosexual self-censorship. This leads us to consider Dickinson’s self-fashioning in his autobiographical ‘Recollections’. As Judith Scherer Herz comments, ‘by putting so great an emphasis on his sexual life … Dickinson presents a figure at least as fictional as Forster’s gentle, rather sexless but morally wiry Cambridge Don’.62 While I have reservations about Herz’s use of the adjective ‘sexless’ to describe Forster’s portrayal of Dickinson, I agree with her comment on Dickinson’s autobiography as constructed and would like to extend it by arguing that one of the ways Dickinson constructs this ‘fiction’ is through his revision of the childhood memory of Beethoven’s sonata and his employment of the moonlight imagery. Dickinson’s obsession with the spiritual moments happening under the moon suggests his awareness of the potency of the imagery and a knowing cultivation of its suggestiveness. This is clearly shown by his description of his arrival at Cambridge: Dickinson recalled that ‘the door that had once or twice swung ajar, now opened and let me out. What I saw was a dim and moonlit scene, infinite, exciting, perilous, full of adventure.’63 Continuing the analogy of door-opening as liberation first used in his description of the Charterhouse incident, Dickinson tapped into the connotations of the moonlight imagery, be they serenity, vagueness, secrecy, enchantment, purity, danger, or confusion. Though not a full coming-out, the term ‘out’ puts the description on the verge of revealing his sexual ‘deviance’ and the moonlight imagery becomes a euphemism that suggests but also conceals the knowledge of forbidden desires. This portrayal of Cambridge allows Dickinson to date the beginning of his life as a self-identified homosexual no earlier than his undergraduate years. As Paul Robinson notes, Dickinson’s autobiography makes it specific that, although his early years were by no means ascetic, he was not a homosexual since the sexual desires he gradually registered at that time were never directed to any actual boys or men;64 the autobiographer confessed that he relied on masturbation from a young age, but he stopped when he was 16 after being shamed by his father about the practice and only resumed when he identified his feelings for Roger Fry eight or nine years later. This narrative hinges partially on Dickinson’s editing out of the suggestive details about the effect of Beethoven’s sonata on him when he was a child. By making his memory of the sonata a tableau only—albeit a vivid one—and by dating his sexual liberation firmly in his Cambridge years, Dickinson’s autobiography discloses a belated maturation rather than traces of precocity. The important realization has to take place, not in his ‘innocent’ childhood or unhappy boarding-school years, but within the magical ambience of Cambridge. The revision of his musical memory from childhood thus reveals the constructedness of the autobiographical ‘I’. In comparison, it is also through the moonlight imagery—by ‘editing’ and rearranging it in the biography—that Forster disrupts and questions Dickinson’s version about how he had acquired his homosexual identity. The three references to the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, the latter two added by Forster, are distributed evenly across the three stages of pre-adulthood in Dickinson’s life and can be read as Forster’s delineation of Dickinson’s evolving homosexual consciousness. He writes how Dickinson, within the protected peace of childhood, after the first experience of social harshness at Beomonds, and during the spiritual awakening at Charterhouse, heard, lost, and regained the music. In so doing, Forster delineates a process suggestive, respectively, of Dickinson’s first (homo)sexual impulses, his disgust with other boys’ allusions to sex, and his reliance on abstraction and conversion to asceticism. Forster’s arrangement of the references to Beethoven’s sonata—plus the fact that he does not mention the ‘Moonlight’ in the latter part of the biography—can be read as characterizing the young Dickinson’s body as attuned and responsive to homosexual desire, thus making a subtle commentary on Dickinson’s version of his ‘innocent’ early years. More importantly, Forster undermines the very basis of Dickinson’s narrative: the previously quoted passage in which Dickinson imagined Cambridge as a moonlit scene is excluded from the biography. By leaving out this pivotal moment of Dickinson’s sense of liberation, Forster disrupts the ordered chronology of ‘becoming gay’ presented in ‘Recollections’. Forster’s biography is therefore a queer text—a queered version of Dickinson’s autobiography. Reconstructing Dickinson’s construction of his homosexual awakening, Forster replaces the existential first-person’s confessed homosexuality with queer provisionality, thus troubling the epistemology of Dickinson’s body as a sexually stable and traceable entity. In this respect, Forster’s biography is modernist, a product underpinned by an awareness of the dissolution of self and the crisis of subjectivity. Yet the project of queering ends up being, reflexively, about the biographer. If music allows Forster to suggest a queer subtext without laying down any assertions, thus resisting confinement within a definitive interpretation, his selection of materials betrays signs of ambivalence. In addition to the exclusion of Dickinson’s description of the moonlit Cambridge, Forster also leaves out Dickinson’s impression of Kenneth Searight. A sergeant in Peshawar who received Dickinson, Forster, and R. C. Trevelyan when the trio went to India in 1912, Searight, Dickinson wrote in ‘Recollections’, was ‘looking superb in his uniform’ when he met them at the station before a drive ‘back to the camp through moonlit roads’.65 As Dickinson had by then known of Searight’s homosexuality, the adoration projected by the writer’s gaze charges the moonlit drive with homoeroticism. Forster’s exclusion of this detail from the biography, then, tellingly performs an ignorance of Dickinson’s perception of moonlight as associative with male comradeship and, implicitly, with homosexual desire. Such a performance suggests that the biography’s ambiguous representation of Dickinson’s homosexuality results as much from Dickinson’s personal wish as from Forster being in the closet. Forster’s identity, as one of the few who understood the coded language with which Dickinson documented his unuttered desires in the autobiography, is evident. Yet, if there is knowledge, there are also anxieties. In a recent essay, Wendy Moffat has suggested that the stance of ‘besideness’ in queer biography, such as Neil Bartlett’s approach to Oscar Wilde in Who Was That Man? (1988), usefully reflects the fragmented nature of queer lives since it stands beside the subject and empathizes with the position between being recognized and being exposed.66 What we have seen in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, however, is a proximity that brings forth tension. On the one hand, Forster knowingly maximizes the suggestiveness of his musical evocations of the spiritual and aesthetic side of Dickinson. On the other hand, he edits out significant details when he is present—that is, when there is a possibility of his being implicated in the suggestiveness of Dickinson’s homosexual desire.67Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson is thus autobiographical; Forster has written himself simultaneously into and out of the malleability of the materials he has at hand. The result is a queer biographer who remains slippery. As we have seen in the previously quoted passage from the epilogue, Forster uses his personal acquaintance with Dickinson to suggest that a written biography can never fully convey the latter’s personality. This contradicts the objectivity and impartiality that he searches for in the preface: Forster states that ‘It is for the general public rather than for his friends … that I write this book’ and explains why he uses the surname ‘Dickinson’ rather than the intimate appellation ‘Goldie’.68 The inconsistency and vacillation between personal involvement and professional aloofness, if symptomatic of his own self-censorship, is also reflective of Forster’s departure from the traditional notion of the biographer’s voice as magisterial, and suggestive of a sharp awareness of the inevitable incompleteness of modern biography. It is thus simplistic for Dennis Proctor, Dickinson’s last ‘lover’ and the editor of Dickinson’s autobiography when it was published in 1973, to comment that there is ‘a gaping hole in [Forster’s] narrative’.69 If there is a ‘hole’, it is deliberately produced by Forster, and the biography as a whole is a product of Forster circumspectly and deliberately writing around it. Such an attempt to address, revise, conceal, and evoke Dickinson’s homosexual ‘becoming’—an attempt to negotiate the difficulties of representation—is crystallized in Forster’s employment of music in the biography. Music both fulfils and betrays Dickinson’s personal wish; narrates as well as disrupts Dickinson’s homosexual awakening; veils and unveils Forster’s own closetedness; and simultaneously gives form to the biography and breaks it up, by highlighting the limitation of words and suggesting the existence of gaps and ellipses. Writing of the character of ‘a Queer Forster’, Robert K. Martin and George Piggford define it as ‘ a spirit of contradiction, a queer way of being that resists all verities and that is aware of its own implication in the very values it seeks to explode’.70 The very multiplicity, and ‘ queerness’, of the ways in which music is alluded to and functions in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, suggests a rejection of an idealized belief of the biography as singularly authoritative. Even though the biography is not ‘playing formal games’ with auto/biography as explicitly as other contemporary auto/biografictions, Forster’s use of music in the biography reveals how he shared similar concerns about the boundary between fiction and life. Self-critically, Forster queers his narrative of Dickinson’s life, using music to explore areas of aporias—regarding Dickinson’s homosexual desire, regarding his own queer subjectivity, and regarding the possibility of recalling the dead with written words. I would like to thank those who commented on an earlier version of the article when it was presented at the Modernist Musics and Political Aesthetics conference in Nottingham in April 2014. I also wish to thank Emma Sutton for her generous and insightful feedback and the Centro Incontri Umani in Ascona for awarding me a residence fellowship, during which I completed the article. Footnotes 1 It is now fully available. Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, The Autobiography of G. Lowes Dickinson and Other Unpublished Writings (London, 1973), 43. See D. E. Martin, ‘Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson’, Oxford DNB. 2 Dickinson’s letter to Forster, 10 July 1932, repr. in Oliver Stallybrass, ‘Introduction’, in E. M. Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson and Related Writings (London, 1973), p. xiv. For a detailed history of the arrangement of the texts between Dickinson and Forster, and later Forster and Dennis Proctor, see also Stallybrass’s introduction, pp. xi–xiv. 3Aspects of the Novel, published in 1927, was based on Forster’s Clark Lectures given in Trinity College, Cambridge. 4 Stallybrass, ‘Introduction’, p. xiv. 5 Lee Edelman, ‘Queer Theory: Unstaging Desire’, GLQ 2 (1995), 343–6 at 345. 6 Max Saunders, Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature (Oxford, 2010), 216–18. 7 Judith Scherer Herz, ‘E. M. Forster and the Biography of the Self: Redefining a Genre’, Prose Studies: Special Issue on Biography, 5, ed. Philip Dodd and Ira Nadel (1982), 326–35. Ilona M. McGuiness, ‘The Collaborative Rhetoric of E. M. Forster’s Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson’, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, 6 (1991), 253–71. For an introductory contextualization of Forster’s biographical works within contemporary aesthetic experiments in life-writing, see Max Saunders, ‘Forster’s Life and Life-Writing’, in David Bradshaw (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to E. M. Forster (Cambridge, 2007), 20–9. 8 See e.g. Laura Marcus, ‘The Newness of the “New Biography”: Biographical Theory and Practice in the Early Twentieth Century’, in Peter France and William St. Clair (eds.), Mapping Lives: The Uses of Biography (Oxford, 2002), 193–218; Saunders, Self Impression; and John Paul Riquelme (ed.), Modern Fiction Studies: Special Issue: Modernist Life Narratives: Bildungsroman, Biography, Autobiography, 59/3 (2013). 9 Maria DiBattista and Emily O. Wittman, ‘Introduction’, in Maria DiBattista and Emily O. Wittman (eds.), Modernism and Autobiography (Cambridge, 2014), pp. xi–xix at xiii. 10 George Piggford, ‘Camp Sites: Forster and the Biographies of Queer Bloomsbury’, and Joseph Bristow, ‘ Fratrum Societati: Forster’s Apostolic Dedications’, both in Robert K. Martin and George Piggford (eds.), Queer Forster (Chicago, 1997), 89–112 and 113–36. 11 Wendy Moffat, E. M. Forster: A New Life (London, 2010), 228 and 230. 12 Ruth Hoberman, Modernizing Lives: Experiments in English Biography, 1918–1939 (Carbondale, Ill., 1987), 171–8. 13 Ibid. 172. 14 Ibid. 194. 15 Virginia Woolf, The Diary of Virginia Woolf, ed. Anne Olivier Bell, assisted by Andrew McNeillie, 5 vols. (New York, 1977–84), iv. 247. 16 E. M. Forster, The Journals and Diaries of E. M. Forster, ed. Philip Gardner, 3 vols. (London, 2011), ii. 85. 17 See e.g. Werner Wolf, The Musicalization of Fiction: A Study in the Theory and History of Intermediality (Amsterdam, 1999) and Brad Bucknell, Literary Modernism and Musical Aesthetics: Pater, Pound, Joyce, and Stein (Cambridge, 2001). 18 Phyllis Weliver, ‘ A Score of Change: Twenty Years of Critical Musicology and Victorian Literature’, Literature Compass, 8 (2011), 776–94 at 786. Sophie Fuller and Nicky Losseff (eds.), The Idea of Music in Victorian Fiction (Aldershot, 2004) is one of the exemplary studies of music in 19th-c. literature. 19 See e.g. Gillen D’Arcy Wood, Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770–1840 (Cambridge, 2010) and Joseph M. Ortiz, Broken Harmony: Shakespeare and the Politics of Music (Ithaca, 2011). 20 Susan McClary, Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality (Minneapolis, 2002) and Ruth Solie (ed.), Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship (Berkeley, 1993). 21 In particular, Philip Brett, ‘Musicality, Essentialism, and the Closet’, in Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas (eds.), Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology (Routledge, 1994), 9–26. Also Philip Brett, ‘Musicology and Sexuality: The Example of Edward J. Dent’, in Sophie Fuller and Lloyd Whitesell (eds.), Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity (Urbana, Ill., 2002), 177–88, and Philip Brett, Music and Sexuality in Britten: Selected Essays, ed. George E. Haggerty (Berkeley, 2006). See also Wayne Koestenbaum, The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (New York, 1993). 22 Sophie Fuller and Lloyd Whitesell, ‘Introduction’, in Fuller and Whitesell (eds.), Queer Episodes in Music, 1–21 at 2. 23 See, representatively, Emma Sutton, Aubrey Beardsley and British Wagnerism in the 1890s (Oxford, 2002), 24–56; Joe Law, ‘The “Perniciously Homosexual Art”: Music and Homoerotic Desire in The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Fin-de-Siècle Fiction’, in Fuller and Losseff (eds.), The Idea of Music in Victorian Fiction, 173–96; and Emma Sutton, ‘“The Music Spoke for Us”: Music and Sexuality in Fin-de-siècle Poetry’, in Phyllis Weliver (ed.), The Figure of Music in Nineteenth-Century British Poetry (Aldershot, 2005), 213–29. 24 ‘The Raison d’être of Criticism’ (1947), in E. M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, ed. Oliver Stallybrass (London, 1972), 105–18 at 105. 25 For a detailed biography of Forster’s musical taste, piano skills, listening repertory, concert, ballet, and opera attendances, and relationships with musicians and composers, see Michelle Fillion, Difficult Rhythm: Music and the Word in E. M. Forster (Urbana, Ill., 2010), 1–23 and 145–50. 26 Benjamin Britten, ‘Some Notes on Forster and Music’, in Oliver Stallybrass (ed.), Aspects of E. M. Forster (London, 1969), 81–6 at 81. For recent studies of Forster and music, see e.g. Fillion, Difficult Rhythm, and Mi Zhou, ‘Sublime Noise: Reading E. M. Forster Musically’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, 2009). 27 Bret L. Keeling, ‘“No Trace of Presence”: Tchaikovsky and the Sixth in Forster’s Maurice’, Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, 36 (2003), 85–101. 28 Saunders, Self Impression, 17. 29 Ibid. 62. 30 Dickinson, Autobiography, 40. 31 Ibid. 32 MS GLD 1/1/11, Archives Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. Unpublished writings of GL Dickinson © The Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge 2017. This is presumed by the archivists to be Dickinson’s first draft of ‘Recollections’, probably written in summer 1921. 33 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 8. 34 Ibid. 13. 35 Dickinson, Autobiography, 56. 36 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 18–19. 37 The Shakespearean allusions are Forster’s own as there is no mention of Ariel or The Tempest in ‘Recollections’. It is unlikely, though, that Dickinson did not know the character or the play himself. Dickinson would have come across Ariel in the works of two of his favourite writers: P. B. Shelley compared himself to the spirit in ‘With a guitar. To Jane’ (1822), and Goethe opens the second part of Faust with a musical appeal by Ariel to ease Faust’s suffering. 38 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 18. 39 A look at the table of contents of the biography reveals how Forster narrativizes such tension, with the chapter on Dickinson’s study of P. B. Shelley, Plato, and Goethe immediately followed by one entitled as ‘The World of Matter’, or with Dickinson’s retreat from war presented as concurrent with his work for the League of Nations. 40 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 147. 41 Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, The Magic Flute: A Fantasia (London, 1920), 107–9. 42 It is interesting that, in ‘Recollections’, Dickinson did not underline the importance of the imagery; in some ways, he even deliberately downplayed its importance by naming another image—a cherry tree with white double blossoms—as the most recurrent image throughout his life. Dickinson wrote that ‘there was a cherry tree covered in spring with a cloud of double blossom, under which my mother would sit and work her sewing machine, while we read to her’. And he added a footnote saying: ‘I never see the double cherry in our College garden without this scene recurring to me.’ Dickinson, Autobiography, 36–7. Ironically, this is the only instance where Dickinson described the cherry blossom. 43 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 106. 44 Ibid. 29, 32, 66, 90, 124. 45 Ibid. 199. 46 Ibid. 200. 47 Ibid. 201. 48 As Forster comments, Dickinson’s admiration for Goethe ‘was connected with a general tolerance for the Teutonic’: Dickinson ‘pardoned, as the average English cannot, [the Germans’] heaviness, pedantry and docility’ (ibid. 40). Here, the biographer is making a not-too-subtle commentary on contemporary British hostility to Germany. Written in a time when the Nazi regime had come to power and launched the reinterpretation of German literature, Forster’s portrayal of Dickinson as well versed in Goethe’s writings also questions the fascists’ right to exploit their cultural legacy. Modern criticism has observed how Dickinson’s attachment to Goethe was idiosyncratic among contemporaries: it can be contextualized within the lukewarm, if not absolutely negative, reception of Goethe in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is Dickinson’s work on Goethe that later facilitated the revival of the German writer in England among the Auden Generation in the 1930s. See Nicholas Boyle, ‘Introduction’, in Nicholas Boyle and John Guthrie (eds.), Goethe and the English-Speaking World: Essays from the Cambridge Symposium for his 250th Anniversary (Rochester, NY, 2002), 11–16. 49 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 113. 50 E. M. Forster, The Hill of Devi and Other Indian Writings (London, 1983), 113. 51 E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel and Related Writings (London, 1974), 116, 102 and 112. 52 Ibid. 113 and 115. 53 Ibid. 115 and 113. 54 Ibid. 116. 55 Ibid. 56 This way of reading in some ways redirects what has been happening in Forster scholarship, as critics often go backwards and observe how A Passage to India, the novel before Aspects, best exemplifies Forster’s conception of rhythm. See e.g. E. K. Brown, ‘Rhythm in E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India’, in Malcolm Bradbury (ed.), E. M. Forster: A Passage to India. A Casebook (London, 1970), 93–113, and David Medalie, E. M. Forster’s Modernism (Basingstoke, 2002), 124–40. 57 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 69. 58 Ibid. 59 See e.g. quotations from Leonard Woolf, Michael Holroyd, and George Santayana in Stallybrass, ‘Introduction’, pp. xvi–xvii. 60 Sutton, Aubrey Beardsley, 55. 61 Joseph Kerman and Alan Tyson (with Scott G. Burnham), ‘Beethoven, Ludwig van’, in Grove Music Online (accessed 24 July 2016). 62 Herz, ‘E. M. Forster and the Biography of the Self’, 329. 63 Dickinson, Autobiography, 61. 64 Paul Robinson, Gay Lives: Homosexual Autobiography from John Addington Symonds to Paul Monette (Chicago, 1999), 29. 65 Dickinson, Autobiography, 179. 66 Wendy Moffat, ‘The Narrative Case for Queer Biography’, in Robyn Warhol and Susan S. Lanser (eds.), Narrative Theory Unbound: Queer and Feminist Interventions (Columbus, Ohio, 2015), 210–26 at 216–20. 67 We may also wonder whether Forster chose not to include Dickinson’s use of the moonlight imagery to describe the sense of liberation at Cambridge partially because of contemporary associations of evening music-making at Cambridge with homoeroticism. See e.g. Forster’s own portrayal of Maurice’s first meeting with Clive Durham in Maurice and Virginia Woolf’s depiction in Jacob’s Room. 68 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, p. xxii. 69 Dennis Proctor, introduction to Dickinson, Autobiography, 7. 70 Robert K. Martin and George Piggford, ‘Introduction: Queer, Forster?’, in Robert K. Martin and George Piggford (eds.), Queer Forster (Chicago, 1997), 1–28 at 6. © The Author (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Music and Letters Oxford University Press

Music as Queering in E. M. Forster’s ‘Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson’

Music and Letters , Volume Advance Article (1) – Jan 16, 2018

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Abstract

Abstract At the end of his biography, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (1934), E. M. Forster claims that he has not fulfilled the task of producing a work that ‘would resemble’ his deceased friend: ‘ And perhaps it only could be done through music.’ More than simply a metaphor for the modern self in a newly conceptualized form of biographical writing, music, this article argues, plays a significant role in the biography’s representation of Dickinson’s homosexuality. It proposes that Forster’s references to actual music, especially to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, endow the biography with a queer subtext, thus both saying and unsaying Dickinson’s homosexual desire. In so doing, the article aims to broaden the recent musical-literary discussion of music, sexuality, and words by focusing on a text that has not received its due critical attention. It also seeks to contribute to current life-writing studies by highlighting the presence of music in modernist engagement with different forms of writing lives. In 1921, the Cambridge don Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (1862–1932) started his autobiography. A liberal intellectual who taught political science at Cambridge and London, Dickinson is today mostly remembered for his contribution to the founding of the League of Nations after the First World War. Writing candidly and insistently about his homosexual awakening, boot fetish, and relationships with five men (‘it is my object, in these reminiscences, to tell what is usually not told’), he produced a complete manuscript entitled ‘Recollections’ alongside several other short accounts about his life.1 At Dickinson’s death in 1932, E. M. Forster was bequeathed these materials and given full authority over the publication of their details. Dickinson did not specify whether Forster should oversee the publication, but his private wish was unequivocally expressed in a letter to Forster: if anything were to be published, ‘the sex part should be omitted’.2 Soon afterwards, Forster accepted the request from Dickinson’s sisters to write a biography. He adopted the general structure of ‘Recollections’ and quoted liberally from it and from other texts in Dickinson’s published oeuvre. The end result, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (1934), is Forster’s first book-length prose work after A Passage to India (1924).3 The biography remains faithful to Dickinson’s wish by avoiding explicit discussion of Dickinson’s homosexuality, although, as Oliver Stallybrass comments in his introduction to the Abinger edition of the biography, there are hints scattered throughout the book.4 Music, this article argues, plays a significant role in the biography’s representation of Dickinson’s homosexuality; it enables Forster to avoid as well as to hint at Dickinson’s homosexual desire and to construct Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson as a queer text. That is, music provides Forster with a means of narrating and problematizing Dickinson’s emergence into a queer consciousness specifically, and exploring, alongside other contemporaries, ways to reinvent the forms of life-writing more generally. If queer theory is, in Lee Edelman’s words, ‘intent … on instructing hegemonic culture in the necessity of a different understanding of difference’, Forster’s use of music produces a life-narrative not only resistant to one single interpretation, but also demanding multiple readings of its inner contradictions and suggestiveness.5 As such, the biography simultaneously points to the provisionality of the homosexual subject, couples coherence with ellipses and gaps, and calls into question the possibility of knowing ‘the dead’ for both the biographer and the readers. In its protean role as theme, image, and formal device, music thus stands as the central figure in this article. At the centre of this protean use of music is Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata (Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2). In ‘Recollections’, Dickinson described how as a child he was once captivated by the sonata. Although he did not announce his life-long fascination with the non-authorial title of the music, his enchantment with the moonlight imagery is manifest in his repeated descriptions of his subsequent spiritual experiences under the moon. As Forster’s biography refers to Dickinson’s childhood musical experience and to most of the moonlit spiritual moments he described, it seems clear that Forster picked up on the significance of the moonlight motif to Dickinson. Yet Forster also departs from ‘Recollections’ by using the moonlight motif to create an intricate allusive system. His use of music encompasses not only specific references to actual musical works and citations of Dickinson’s musical experiences, but also imagery and allusions related to or associated with music, as well as invocations to music as a concept for a new form of biographical writing. This article argues that such a protean use of music allows Forster to endow the biography’s depiction of Dickinson’s aesthetic spiritualism with queer undertones, thus saying and unsaying Dickinson’s homosexual desire. In so doing, the biography substitutes the candidness of ‘Recollections’ with doubt and uncertainty regarding Dickinson’s private life, which culminates in Forster’s declaration of his failure to produce something that ‘would resemble [Dickinson]’ in the epilogue to the biography. The queerness of Forster’s biography thus lies in its interrogation of its autobiographical source material and undermining of its own authority. Although Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson is not an example of what Max Saunders calls ‘biografiction’—it is after all a formal biography—it is an example of modernist engagement with life-writing: it experiments with the blurred boundary between art and life, between fiction and auto/biography, and expresses an interest in exploring the very unknowability of one’s interiority while registering the crisis in representation and the dissolution of self.6 As we shall see, Forster’s use of music is formative to the biography’s negotiations of these issues. Past criticism of the biography ignores its various allusions to music and focuses mostly on Forster’s formal reinvention of the genre. Judith Scherer Herz and Ilona M. McGuiness, for instance, have commented on how Forster’s narrative voice alternately blends with Dickinson’s and withdraws into aside, drawing the reader’s attention to Dickinson’s construction of self as well as to the social criteria by which Dickinson’s world operated, and thus replacing the authorial confidence of the Victorian biographer with purposefully constrained and limited intervention.7 Their readings anticipate the currently buoyant research on the sense of aporia and incompleteness in modernist life-writing.8 In a recent collection of essays on modernism and autobiography, Maria DiBattista and Emily O. Wittman explain elegantly that ‘[m]odernist retrospection seldom reinserts itself seamlessly into the past, but proceeds, if proceeds is the word, along a meditative course riddled with ellipses, plagued by lapses in memories, and compromised by deliberate omissions’.9 If Forster’s biography, with its story arc built around the unsaid and the disjointed, typifies the characteristics of modernist biographical writing, its omission of Dickinson’s sexual life generates specific implications for modern theorizations of queer life-writing. Recent queer reassessments of the biography have reclaimed the book’s value by countering claims that Forster turned away from writing about Dickinson’s homosexuality. By discussing the biography as a reflection of and on closeted desires, critics have historicized its significance within contemporary queer communities, such as queer Bloomsbury and apostolic Cambridge.10 Writing in the same vein, Wendy Moffat observes how the biography was for Forster ‘a filial act’—his ‘personal’ response to ‘the threat of the utter extinction of homosexual lives’.11 These readings have highlighted Forster’s biography within modernist and queer studies, yet it is surprising that none of them has examined how Forster’s exploration of ways of representing homosexuality is facilitated by his employment of music. An exception is Ruth Hoberman’s discussion of Forster’s biography alongside Virginia Woolf’s Roger Fry (1940). She argues that the two works employ music as a metaphor for the modern self.12 They both downplay the role of the biographer by letting the subject ‘speak’ via numerous quotations, compiled and arranged in a way that creates ‘the recurrence and repetition of ideas, images, concerns’.13 The result is ‘a personality both open-ended and coherent’ in Forster’s case, and a diffused and decentred subject living through ‘[r]hythmic irregularities’ in Woolf’s.14 If Woolf’s biography seems a more systematically experimental biography in its evocation of a ‘musical quality’, it is because Forster’s work provides a precedent. Hoberman traces the musical aesthetics of both biographies back to Forster’s discussion of ‘rhythm’ as a new literary formal device in Aspects of the Novel (1927). On the one hand, Hoberman’s reading goes against the grain of Woolf’s private critique of Forster’s biography as ‘futile’.15 It is perhaps more than interesting that Forster, after the publication of Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, wrote in his diary that he would ‘not do a book on Roger Fry’.16 Hoberman thus attends to the complicated personal relationships of this Bloomsbury quartet—the two writers and their two subjects. On the other hand, by analysing the musical aesthetics of the two biographies, she highlights music’s influence on both authors’ conceptions of biographical writing. Yet in perceiving music as a purely metaphorical concept, Hoberman’s reading overlooks the fact that, on a biographical level, music was an art form being performed and consumed in contemporary domestic and social life. Consequently, her interpretations of Forster’s biography in particular fail to acknowledge the presence of many references to actual music, let alone their meanings and implications. In many ways Hoberman’s study is typical of previous approaches to music in literary criticism: taken either metaphorically or symbolically, music was often understood to influence literature, especially modernist literature, by contributing to the reconceptualization of literary narrative.17 However, the disciplinary shift within musicology, from analysing music as a non-referential art form to a more contextual understanding of music as an event taking place in a specific historical moment, has enabled literary criticism to reassess the intersection between music and literature. As Phyllis Weliver observes, critical musicology, or ‘new’ musicology, has energized fresh readings of nineteenth-century literary works that deal with music.18 In parallel, studies focusing on how literary works from other periods were informed by their respective musical cultures have also been burgeoning.19 One aspect of this new musicological inquiry, particularly stimulating to musical-literary scholarship, is the exploration of the relationship between music and sexuality. Critics such as Susan McClary, Ruth Solie, and many others have demonstrated how music’s powerful affectivity has long been regarded as subversive, associated with female sexual desire, and used to stand for the ‘excess’, ‘abnormal’, ‘other’.20 Broadening feminist musicology’s understanding of ‘other’, Philip Brett’s work examines the connection between music and homosexuality, paving the way for subsequent studies of music and queer identity.21 As Sophie Fuller and Lloyd Whitesell observe, ‘musical expression and the expression of queer sexuality were sympathetically linked’ around the turn of the twentieth century.22 In literary criticism, scholars have shown how music had been coded as an expression of homosexual desire and used to allude to a more obscure, more indefinable and unspeakable, thus ‘queer’, identity in various discourses by the late nineteenth century.23 By studying the ways in which Forster uses music to say and unsay the homosexuality of his biographical subject, the present article extends the inquiry of recent musical-literary scholarship and highlights a genre that has not been sufficiently explored by critics working in this field. Forster’s use of music in his non-fictional works has not received its due critical attention. ‘I love music’, Forster declared at the opening of his 1947 lecture at the Harvard Music Symposium.24 He was an ardent and astute musical amateur, and his engagement with music was enduring—from the first decade of his life in the 1880s to the last decade of his life in the 1960s when his deafness became a major hindrance to his enjoyment of music. It was also diverse: he was a listener, a pianist, a concert-goer, an opera enthusiast, a librettist, a friend of musical professionals, a collaborator with musicians, and, most importantly, a writer who wrote constantly about music in his work.25 From the concert scene in Howards End (1910) to his collaboration with Benjamin Britten on Billy Budd (1951), Forster’s engagement with music has been discussed extensively by critics in order to understand his aesthetic aim and political viewpoint. Yet these musical-literary analyses have often taken their cue from Britten’s 1969 tribute to Forster as ‘our most musical novelist’ and privileged novels over other genres of writing.26 The same critical tendency to bypass his non-fiction appears in studies concerning Forster’s representation of music as suggestive of sexual, and homosexual, desire. For example, while critics have commented on his use of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (‘Pathétique’) to delineate the protagonist’s sexual awakening in Maurice (1971), there has been no equivalent discussion of the biography’s construction of the queer identity of Dickinson.27 Another aim of the article is to demonstrate the importance of music to modernist engagement with life-writing. This is partially to complement the recent critical interest in modern life-writing’s indebtedness to the visual arts, especially portrait painting. Max Saunders’s Self Impression, a major contribution to modernist studies, sheds new light on ‘the varieties of modern transformation of life-writing’ through an investigation into the many areas, genres, and forms of writing where ‘the borders between autobiography, biography, and fiction intersect’.28 The ‘portrait’ is a central theme in his literary history, from Walter Pater via impressionism to modernism and beyond, illustrating how ‘literary portraiture changes markedly through the long turn-of-the-century from the 1870s to the 1930s’ and how this phenomenon, embodied by the many auto/biografictional experiments in imaginary portraits and fictional authorship, crystallizes contemporary rumination on the concepts of personality, subjectivity, and the boundary between art and ‘life’.29 If the notion of the ‘portrait’ has such a prominent role in life-writing studies, the present article aims to open up an equally fertile space for music through a discussion of its significance in Forster’s biography. By analysing the ways in which Forster weaves into his biography Dickinson’s childhood experience of listening to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata and his subsequent spiritual experiences in the moonlight, this article reveals that Forster creates a queer undercurrent beneath the depiction of Dickinson’s aesthetic spiritualism. The more ambiguity Forster’s use of music generates, the more significant its role is to the construction of the queer identity of both authors. The article thus broadens the musical-literary discussion of music, sexuality, and words by focusing on a text that has been under-discussed within Forster scholarship and by highlighting the presence of music in modernist life-writing. * * * When writing about his childhood in suburban London in ‘Recollections’, Dickinson mentioned how ‘[c]urious things come back to me like scents from the past’.30 ‘Lying in bed in the dusk, listening to the Moonlight Sonata played below’ was first in his list of memories, followed by others which are also related to music, such as ‘singing, in a little piping voice, a song about a little fish’, and ‘singing hymns on Sunday evening’.31 That Dickinson prioritized and included specific details about listening to Beethoven’s sonata suggests the vividness of the memory to him. This is further evidenced by an earlier draft of ‘Recollections’: Dusk in bed is a very penetrating memory of my childhood, and the gradual coming on of darkness. In particular it is associated for me with music, my cousin Helen, when she stayed with us, playing below in the from Beethoven, especially the ‘Moonlight’ sonata comes back to me in that environment, mysteriously accumulating something that was at once terror and beauty upon the gathering gloom.32 Dickinson’s awareness of ‘something’ reflects music’s non-verbal evocativeness; alluding to the Burkean sublime, his description reveals an undefinable state of mind conjured up by the music. By choosing not to probe into its effect in the later, more succinct version of this memory in ‘Recollections’, Dickinson perhaps sought to distil the emotional profundity of the experience in the tableau itself. Forster’s biography reveals that he was aware of the significance of the memory to Dickinson. Although it is unclear whether Forster had read the earlier draft, it was among the documents left to him. More importantly, in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, he quotes the version in ‘Recollections’ verbatim.33 The revealing difference is that, while ‘Recollections’ refers to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata only once, Forster’s biography makes two other references to the music. The first is in the chapter on Dickinson in his preparatory boarding school, Beomonds. Young Dickinson was distanced, as Forster describes, from ‘the world of Ariel’, being stuck in an environment where, ‘[i]nstead of the Moonlight Sonata, floating up through the floor’, boys’ obscene words were constantly heard.34 The second reference to the music appears in a moment of spiritual awakening during Dickinson’s mostly unhappy public-school years at Charterhouse. Much bored with trying to decipher Greek from its original, the teenage Dickinson suddenly became enlightened when his sixth-form master was reading an English translation of Aristophanes’s poetry. In ‘Recollections’, Dickinson wrote, ‘[f]or a moment a door sprang ajar. … It closed again. But the experience remains with me.’35 In the biography, Forster pauses to contemplate the significance of the moment for Dickinson, asking ‘What had happened? … What was this new existence?’ and then answering himself: ‘Dickinson had had a glimpse of the land which was his home.’ One wonders, sharing his exultation, and knowing that in later life he could enter that land at will: one wonders why he did not stay there constantly, always with Ariel and Love the delightful, and rapture and sunlight and the Moonlight Sonata, where sorrow is transformed into grace. Here was his home, and he admitted as much. Yet he entered only to withdraw, and to return to the anarchy whose dark premonition had been shown to him at school. Was it that school, acting on his raw character, had warped him? Or was it, as he came to maintain, that the world of Ariel will not satisfy us until Caliban is tamed, Antonio reformed, and Prospero restored to his kingdom? Perhaps the difference between his boyhood and manhood was that as a boy he could not escape from the horrors of existence, and that as a man he would not escape from them. To a man of his character this constituted a profound difference, and he was never again to be as unhappy as at Beomonds and Charterhouse.36 Whereas Dickinson shortens and, in a way, neutralizes his description of the childhood memory in the final manuscript, Forster’s further two references to the sonata reveal his own intention to highlight the symbolic importance of the memory to Dickinson. By characterizing the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata as a spiritual and aesthetic anchor of Dickinson’s confrontation with ‘the anarchy’, Forster delineates Dickinson’s psychological maturation as the process of a self being gradually exposed, and adapting itself, to the hostility of the outside world. Beethoven’s sonata provides Forster with a means to evoke the side of Dickinson hidden from, but constantly in negotiation with, the public. Forster combines both references to the sonata with allusions to Ariel.37 He characterizes Ariel’s world as a realm ‘where neither obedience nor disobedience existed, and the only sacrament was beauty’.38 Yet, as is clear in the long quotation above, Forster perceives Dickinson’s entry into the realm as intervallic: Ariel’s company brings Dickinson inner solace, but only transiently; an escape is followed inevitably by a return. The Charterhouse incident foreshadows Dickinson’s continual vacillation between private and public lives, between staying cloistered at Cambridge and dedicating himself to international political affairs, thus marking an important juncture of Forster’s narrative of Dickinson’s life.39 This intervallic pattern of dedication to and withdrawal from public life, I suggest, is evoked by Ariel’s association with music. Although Forster does not specifically describe Ariel’s musical prowess, the magic of Ariel’s music in The Tempest is written into these allusions, characterizing Dickinson’s retreat from public as free, creative, but also temporary. Another allusion to Ariel in the biography reveals how Ariel and his music enable Forster to allude to these characteristics simultaneously. Commenting on Dickinson’s verse drama, The Magic Flute (1920), an adaptation of Mozart and Schikaneder’s opera as a philosophical rumination on war, religion, and civilization, Forster regards it as Dickinson’s ‘chief incursion into the kingdom of Ariel’.40 The reference to Ariel alludes partially to the musical inspiration behind the verse drama, and partially to the verse drama’s diegetic examination of escapism: Tamino, the main character, finds Buddhist denunciation of human desire and flight from life inadequate on his quest for Truth.41 What stands out is the word ‘incursion’, which is defined by the OED as ‘a hostile inroad or invasion; esp. one of sudden and hasty character; a sudden attack’. It thus ironically celebrates Dickinson’s pacifism but also characterizes his immersion in creativity and imagination as brief. Music, whether it is the childhood memory of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata or Ariel’s magical tunes, is thus employed by Forster to present how Dickinson, in private, yearned for and found solace, however temporarily, in art and beauty. Forster’s references to the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata also play a structural role in the biography. As mentioned above, the images of moonlight are scattered throughout Dickinson’s ‘Recollections’; numerous episodes during which he discovered beauty, serenity, and inspiration in art, nature, and personal interaction in his adult life take place in moonlit scenes.42 Forster’s biography refers to most of these moonlit episodes where, as he describes, Dickinson experienced ‘a heightening of normal consciousness’.43 There is, for example, in Dickinson’s early Cambridge years, a memorable ‘moonlit evening spent in the grounds of Trinity’ with a friend; the landscapes in Shelley’s poetry were for Dickinson ‘always shimmering with moonlit streams’; ‘a moonlight walk’ was part of the background when he was writing his first book, From King to King (1891); Dickinson’s stroll in Mistra, Greece, was ‘under the full moon round the deserted streets and churches’; and he saw a ‘full moon’ during his stay in a temple on Tai-Shan, China, in 1913.44 Moonlight is everywhere in the biography. Read alongside these depictions of actual moonlight, the three references to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata woven into the narrative about Dickinson’s pre-Cambridge years are a device that prepares and augments the recurrence of the image in the latter part of the book. If, as previously suggested, music is used as a synecdoche for Dickinson’s spiritual and aesthetic haven away from the public, the association of the moonlight imagery with Dickinson’s ‘heighten[ed]’ ‘consciousness’ suggests how Forster’s references to Beethoven’s music in Dickinson’s early years are signposts for what comes afterwards. That is, ‘Moonlight’, the non-authorial title of Beethoven’s sonata, provides Forster with a running motif by which the life-narrative unfolds the repetition and variation of Dickinson’s aesthetic spiritualism, and with which the biography gains a degree of thematic coherence. That Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ is a crucial part in the narrative about the solipsistic and contemplative Dickinson not only suggests Forster’s awareness of the recurrence of the moonlight imagery in Dickinson’s autobiography but also marks his endeavour to use the sonata to give form to the biography. Forster’s use of Beethoven’s sonata, then, suggests two perceptions of music: as powerfully evocative, which enables him to reveal the solipsistic and spiritual part of Dickinson previously unavailable to public awareness, and as formally unifying, which brings together discrete parts of Dickinson’s life. In the biography’s epilogue, Forster imagines a challenge from Mephistopheles, who asks him, the biographer, to ‘state objectively why a memoir of Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson need be written’.45 No external life-events, not a great writer, not a renowned philosopher, and with the future of the League of Nations uncertain, Forster finds himself unable to defend his cause against the devil’s questioning: ‘a biography of my friend and master [is] uncalled for’.46 Yet this mention of their friendship seems to galvanize the biographer in his resistance: Blinded by arithmetic, deaf to the warnings of poetry, [Mephistopheles] assumes that a man is only the sum of his qualities, and it is to the qualities named at the beginning of this epilogue, the ‘beloved, affectionate, unselfish, intelligent, witty, charming’ which were so easily brushed aside, that I return for his overthrow. These qualities in Goldie were fused into such an unusual creature that no one whom one has met with in the flesh or in history the least resembles it, and no words exist in which to define it. He was an indescribably rare being, he was rare without being enigmatic, he was rare in the only direction which seems to be infinite: the direction of the Chorus Mysticus. He did not merely increase our experience: he left us more alert for what has not yet been experienced and more hopeful about other men because he had lived. And a biography of him, if it succeeded, would resemble him; it would achieve the unattainable, express the inexpressible, turn the passing into the everlasting. Have I done that? Das Unbeschreibliche hier ist’s getan? No. And perhaps it only could be done through music. But that is what has lured me on.47 This passage makes it evident that music is seminal to Forster’s conception of biographical writing. On the one hand, the imaginary conversation is not only a reference or a tribute to the dialogue form much used by Dickinson himself in his own works, but also uses the quotation from Faust to recall Dickinson’s lifelong admiration for Goethe.48 On the other hand, the quotation from the Chorus Mysticus, which concludes the second part of Faust, reminds the reader of a long list of musical works based on the Faust story, including Schumann’s Scenes from Goethe’s Faust (1853), Liszt’s Faust Symphony (1857), and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony (1910), where the ‘chorus’ is no longer words on paper but actually sung. If this quotation, which accompanies the ascension of the reborn Faust in Goethe’s play, suggests Forster’s perception of the biography as a genre of resurrection, it also highlights the importance of music to his project of bringing back the dead—or, as he says elsewhere in the biography, capturing the ‘evanescent’.49 This is not the only time Forster invokes music at the end of a life-narrative. In The Hill of Devi (1953), a memoir of the Maharajah of Dewas, which comprises Forster’s letters from India in 1912–13 and in 1921 interspersed with his accounts of the history of the state and the life events of the Maharajah, Forster concludes: One of the puzzling things about the dead is that it is impossible to think of them evenly. They all go out of sight and are forgotten, they all go into silence, yet we cannot help assigning some of them a tune. Most of those whom I have known leave no sound behind them, I cannot evoke them though I would like to. [The Maharajah] has the rare quality of evoking himself, and I do not believe that he is here doing it for the last time.50 Read alongside the epilogue to Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, both endings are mildly celebratory, but at the same time they ruminate on the difficulty of conveying the personality of the dead. The unevenness Forster notes in The Hill of Devi echoes his concern with presenting Dickinson as ‘an unusual creature’ of perceived characteristics. Dickinson is then beyond definition, which is comparable to music’s after-effect, while the Maharajah’s idiosyncratic ‘tune’ refuses to be silenced and thus defies the descent into oblivion. In both cases, the analogy of music helps the biographer resist closure, resist rounding off a narrative despite his awareness of its finiteness. Both works thus demonstrate Forster’s perception of music as evocative, of its effect as lingering and resonant, of its expressiveness beyond verbal referentiality. These characteristics of music underpin Forster’s aesthetics of biographical writing. Forster’s re-conceptualization of biography as a musical enterprise echoes his deliberately vague discussion of ‘rhythm’ in Aspects of the Novel. Although at one point in his discussion Forster claims that ‘If the correct musical term is something else, that does not matter’, his acknowledgement that ‘when people apply rhythm … they are apt not to say what they mean’ and his invitation to the audience to ‘edge rather nervously towards the idea of “rhythm”’ suggest his alertness to the challenges and problems posed by contemporary conceptual borrowings between different artistic disciplines.51 In music, Forster identifies the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which ‘we can all hear and tap to’, as ‘easy’ rhythm and the effect through which, ‘when the orchestra stops’, we hear the Symphony ‘as a whole’, as an ‘entity’ whose ‘three big blocks of sound’ have been linked together as ‘difficult’ rhythm.52 In literature, Forster perceives ‘easy’ rhythm as ‘repetition plus variation’, exemplified by Vinteuil’s petite phrase in Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, a novel which, though appearing ‘ill-constructed’, ‘hangs together because it is stitched internally’.53 As for difficult rhythm, Forster provides no examples, only suggesting that Tolstoy’s War and Peace is the work closest to producing this ‘rhythmic’ effect.54 Like the end of a symphony when ‘notes and tunes composing it have been liberated’, the last page of Tolstoy’s novel gives one an impression that ‘every item … lead[s] a larger existence than was possible at the time’; it is, Forster suggests, ‘[e]xpansion’ rather than ‘completion’.55 It seems that Forster conceptualizes literary ‘rhythm’ as inspired by, but not identical to, musical rhythm; his ‘easy’ rhythm seems to point to a certain motivic design within a novel, while what he describes as ‘difficult’ rhythm seems a mixture of coherence and ambiguity at the same time: a certain narrative unity that catalyses a reader’s mental reordering and grouping of discrete textual details and thus helps to generate multiple interpretations. Though difficult to pin down, Forster’s approach to ‘rhythm’ seems to be exemplified in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson. The moonlight imagery (the references to the sonata included) links various moments of Dickinson’s life together as a running motif and can thus be read as his attempt at creating ‘easy’ rhythm. The resulting coherence, plus the ambiguity produced by Forster’s appeal to music in his confessed failure to convey Dickinson’s personality at the end of the biography, can be read as something close to ‘difficult’ rhythm. The central tenet of my discussion here is that Aspects of the Novel has a wider application than its title suggests. Though not a novel, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson continues the interest expressed in Aspects that music may be used to re-conceptualize the form of literary narrative.56 In other words, music influences Forster’s writings, fiction and non-fiction alike. From a device to represent or evoke Dickinson’s solipsistic yearning for spiritual solace, to a source for an image that contributes to the structure of the biography, to a new conception of biographical writing as a musical enterprise, music plays a significant role in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson thematically, aesthetically, and formally. Yet there is another dimension: underlying the association of music with spiritualism, aesthetics, and form, Forster’s representation of music suggests a further story. In the biography, there is a paragraph specifically about Dickinson’s musical knowledge, taste, and instrumental playing. We learn that Dickinson was an ardent musical amateur, played the piano and the violin, sometimes in a duet with another Cambridge don, Oscar Browning, and appreciated works by, in particular, Wagner and Mozart, as well as Gluck, Schubert, Bach, and Beethoven. ‘His feeling for music went far beyond the sensitiveness of the ordinary cultivated man’, Forster observes, ‘and had his specific gift been adequate he might here have achieved the ideal which he vainly pursued through poetry.’57 For Dickinson, music was ‘not an extension of his life, but a revelation which … convinced him of transcendental truth’.58 This observation that Dickinson perceived music as revelatory and transcendental echoes the depiction of the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata as a synecdoche of Dickinson’s aesthetic spiritualism and is not far from some of the contemporary impressions of Dickinson as a ‘mystic’.59 Yet these seemingly ‘normal’ details about Dickinson’s engagement with music give us pause for thought. As mentioned above, music had become associated with homosexual desire in certain contexts by the late nineteenth century. Wagnerism, in particular, became aligned with decadence after the Wilde trials, and ‘artists were careful to dissociate themselves from charges of homosexuality’ when referring to Wagner in the aftermath.60 Dickinson’s interest in Wagner, plus his duets with the notoriously camp Browning, would have been details suggestive enough for contemporaries attuned to the queer nuances of these musical activities. Forster’s description of Dickinson, not as an aesthete whose overt musical sensibilities and susceptibilities suggested erotic experiences and excess desires, but as an amateur who seemed to engage with music knowledgably and discreetly, is thus queer, both saying and unsaying Dickinson’s homosexuality. If the description reflects Forster’s alertness to the associations of music with aestheticism and decadence, and thus his intention to diverge consciously from what had become familiar and banal, it also hints at, approximates, invites speculation over, but simultaneously resists confirming, the possibility of Dickinson being a homosexual man. The biography therefore manipulates its readers, first manoeuvring them into a spiritual, aesthetic, and formal reading of the role of music in the biography, but constantly destabilizing this reading by gesturing towards music’s queer undertones. The multiple perceptions of music explored by the biography—as revelatory, transcendental, aesthetically providing solace, and formally unifying, but also as suggestive, associative, evocative, lingering, expressive, and subversive—enable Forster to give a queer subtext to his life-narrative about Dickinson. The seeming coherence of Dickinson’s life as a crescendo of spirituality thus breaks up with gaps and ellipses, and it is Beethoven’s sonata that facilitates the revealing of the untold. The sonata’s contained but mournful adagio sostenuto, its calm and balanced allegretto, its turbulent, ferocious, almost unquenchable presto agitato, plus the widespread legends about Beethoven’s dedication of the sonata to a young countess, and the well-known title of the sonata that infuses the music with decidedly impressionistic dreaminess and further ‘romanticizes’ the work—all of these, familiar to Forster and his contemporaries, make the sonata an available coding for Dickinson’s unrequited and unspeakable sexual desire.61 That the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata is a crucial part of an intricate allusive system augments the effectiveness of its being a code, endowing the life-narrative with recurrent moments of saying and unsaying. The tableau of Dickinson’s childhood listening to the sonata, in which the surroundings gradually lose their contours among the floating musical sounds, becomes a telling reverie of escapism and longing. Read in this way, Dickinson’s revision of the childhood memory, his deletion of the music’s impact on him, becomes meaningful. It seems that Dickinson, by condensing the depiction of the moment into a tableau, was concealing the impact of the music on his mind. The revision becomes almost an indication of Dickinson’s awareness of the queer undertones of his attachment to Beethoven’s sonata; it seems that he avoided going into detail about the music’s effect on him exactly because he was conscious of the implications of what he had written. As such, the revision seems to suggest symptoms of homosexual self-censorship. This leads us to consider Dickinson’s self-fashioning in his autobiographical ‘Recollections’. As Judith Scherer Herz comments, ‘by putting so great an emphasis on his sexual life … Dickinson presents a figure at least as fictional as Forster’s gentle, rather sexless but morally wiry Cambridge Don’.62 While I have reservations about Herz’s use of the adjective ‘sexless’ to describe Forster’s portrayal of Dickinson, I agree with her comment on Dickinson’s autobiography as constructed and would like to extend it by arguing that one of the ways Dickinson constructs this ‘fiction’ is through his revision of the childhood memory of Beethoven’s sonata and his employment of the moonlight imagery. Dickinson’s obsession with the spiritual moments happening under the moon suggests his awareness of the potency of the imagery and a knowing cultivation of its suggestiveness. This is clearly shown by his description of his arrival at Cambridge: Dickinson recalled that ‘the door that had once or twice swung ajar, now opened and let me out. What I saw was a dim and moonlit scene, infinite, exciting, perilous, full of adventure.’63 Continuing the analogy of door-opening as liberation first used in his description of the Charterhouse incident, Dickinson tapped into the connotations of the moonlight imagery, be they serenity, vagueness, secrecy, enchantment, purity, danger, or confusion. Though not a full coming-out, the term ‘out’ puts the description on the verge of revealing his sexual ‘deviance’ and the moonlight imagery becomes a euphemism that suggests but also conceals the knowledge of forbidden desires. This portrayal of Cambridge allows Dickinson to date the beginning of his life as a self-identified homosexual no earlier than his undergraduate years. As Paul Robinson notes, Dickinson’s autobiography makes it specific that, although his early years were by no means ascetic, he was not a homosexual since the sexual desires he gradually registered at that time were never directed to any actual boys or men;64 the autobiographer confessed that he relied on masturbation from a young age, but he stopped when he was 16 after being shamed by his father about the practice and only resumed when he identified his feelings for Roger Fry eight or nine years later. This narrative hinges partially on Dickinson’s editing out of the suggestive details about the effect of Beethoven’s sonata on him when he was a child. By making his memory of the sonata a tableau only—albeit a vivid one—and by dating his sexual liberation firmly in his Cambridge years, Dickinson’s autobiography discloses a belated maturation rather than traces of precocity. The important realization has to take place, not in his ‘innocent’ childhood or unhappy boarding-school years, but within the magical ambience of Cambridge. The revision of his musical memory from childhood thus reveals the constructedness of the autobiographical ‘I’. In comparison, it is also through the moonlight imagery—by ‘editing’ and rearranging it in the biography—that Forster disrupts and questions Dickinson’s version about how he had acquired his homosexual identity. The three references to the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, the latter two added by Forster, are distributed evenly across the three stages of pre-adulthood in Dickinson’s life and can be read as Forster’s delineation of Dickinson’s evolving homosexual consciousness. He writes how Dickinson, within the protected peace of childhood, after the first experience of social harshness at Beomonds, and during the spiritual awakening at Charterhouse, heard, lost, and regained the music. In so doing, Forster delineates a process suggestive, respectively, of Dickinson’s first (homo)sexual impulses, his disgust with other boys’ allusions to sex, and his reliance on abstraction and conversion to asceticism. Forster’s arrangement of the references to Beethoven’s sonata—plus the fact that he does not mention the ‘Moonlight’ in the latter part of the biography—can be read as characterizing the young Dickinson’s body as attuned and responsive to homosexual desire, thus making a subtle commentary on Dickinson’s version of his ‘innocent’ early years. More importantly, Forster undermines the very basis of Dickinson’s narrative: the previously quoted passage in which Dickinson imagined Cambridge as a moonlit scene is excluded from the biography. By leaving out this pivotal moment of Dickinson’s sense of liberation, Forster disrupts the ordered chronology of ‘becoming gay’ presented in ‘Recollections’. Forster’s biography is therefore a queer text—a queered version of Dickinson’s autobiography. Reconstructing Dickinson’s construction of his homosexual awakening, Forster replaces the existential first-person’s confessed homosexuality with queer provisionality, thus troubling the epistemology of Dickinson’s body as a sexually stable and traceable entity. In this respect, Forster’s biography is modernist, a product underpinned by an awareness of the dissolution of self and the crisis of subjectivity. Yet the project of queering ends up being, reflexively, about the biographer. If music allows Forster to suggest a queer subtext without laying down any assertions, thus resisting confinement within a definitive interpretation, his selection of materials betrays signs of ambivalence. In addition to the exclusion of Dickinson’s description of the moonlit Cambridge, Forster also leaves out Dickinson’s impression of Kenneth Searight. A sergeant in Peshawar who received Dickinson, Forster, and R. C. Trevelyan when the trio went to India in 1912, Searight, Dickinson wrote in ‘Recollections’, was ‘looking superb in his uniform’ when he met them at the station before a drive ‘back to the camp through moonlit roads’.65 As Dickinson had by then known of Searight’s homosexuality, the adoration projected by the writer’s gaze charges the moonlit drive with homoeroticism. Forster’s exclusion of this detail from the biography, then, tellingly performs an ignorance of Dickinson’s perception of moonlight as associative with male comradeship and, implicitly, with homosexual desire. Such a performance suggests that the biography’s ambiguous representation of Dickinson’s homosexuality results as much from Dickinson’s personal wish as from Forster being in the closet. Forster’s identity, as one of the few who understood the coded language with which Dickinson documented his unuttered desires in the autobiography, is evident. Yet, if there is knowledge, there are also anxieties. In a recent essay, Wendy Moffat has suggested that the stance of ‘besideness’ in queer biography, such as Neil Bartlett’s approach to Oscar Wilde in Who Was That Man? (1988), usefully reflects the fragmented nature of queer lives since it stands beside the subject and empathizes with the position between being recognized and being exposed.66 What we have seen in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, however, is a proximity that brings forth tension. On the one hand, Forster knowingly maximizes the suggestiveness of his musical evocations of the spiritual and aesthetic side of Dickinson. On the other hand, he edits out significant details when he is present—that is, when there is a possibility of his being implicated in the suggestiveness of Dickinson’s homosexual desire.67Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson is thus autobiographical; Forster has written himself simultaneously into and out of the malleability of the materials he has at hand. The result is a queer biographer who remains slippery. As we have seen in the previously quoted passage from the epilogue, Forster uses his personal acquaintance with Dickinson to suggest that a written biography can never fully convey the latter’s personality. This contradicts the objectivity and impartiality that he searches for in the preface: Forster states that ‘It is for the general public rather than for his friends … that I write this book’ and explains why he uses the surname ‘Dickinson’ rather than the intimate appellation ‘Goldie’.68 The inconsistency and vacillation between personal involvement and professional aloofness, if symptomatic of his own self-censorship, is also reflective of Forster’s departure from the traditional notion of the biographer’s voice as magisterial, and suggestive of a sharp awareness of the inevitable incompleteness of modern biography. It is thus simplistic for Dennis Proctor, Dickinson’s last ‘lover’ and the editor of Dickinson’s autobiography when it was published in 1973, to comment that there is ‘a gaping hole in [Forster’s] narrative’.69 If there is a ‘hole’, it is deliberately produced by Forster, and the biography as a whole is a product of Forster circumspectly and deliberately writing around it. Such an attempt to address, revise, conceal, and evoke Dickinson’s homosexual ‘becoming’—an attempt to negotiate the difficulties of representation—is crystallized in Forster’s employment of music in the biography. Music both fulfils and betrays Dickinson’s personal wish; narrates as well as disrupts Dickinson’s homosexual awakening; veils and unveils Forster’s own closetedness; and simultaneously gives form to the biography and breaks it up, by highlighting the limitation of words and suggesting the existence of gaps and ellipses. Writing of the character of ‘a Queer Forster’, Robert K. Martin and George Piggford define it as ‘ a spirit of contradiction, a queer way of being that resists all verities and that is aware of its own implication in the very values it seeks to explode’.70 The very multiplicity, and ‘ queerness’, of the ways in which music is alluded to and functions in Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, suggests a rejection of an idealized belief of the biography as singularly authoritative. Even though the biography is not ‘playing formal games’ with auto/biography as explicitly as other contemporary auto/biografictions, Forster’s use of music in the biography reveals how he shared similar concerns about the boundary between fiction and life. Self-critically, Forster queers his narrative of Dickinson’s life, using music to explore areas of aporias—regarding Dickinson’s homosexual desire, regarding his own queer subjectivity, and regarding the possibility of recalling the dead with written words. I would like to thank those who commented on an earlier version of the article when it was presented at the Modernist Musics and Political Aesthetics conference in Nottingham in April 2014. I also wish to thank Emma Sutton for her generous and insightful feedback and the Centro Incontri Umani in Ascona for awarding me a residence fellowship, during which I completed the article. Footnotes 1 It is now fully available. Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, The Autobiography of G. Lowes Dickinson and Other Unpublished Writings (London, 1973), 43. See D. E. Martin, ‘Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson’, Oxford DNB. 2 Dickinson’s letter to Forster, 10 July 1932, repr. in Oliver Stallybrass, ‘Introduction’, in E. M. Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson and Related Writings (London, 1973), p. xiv. For a detailed history of the arrangement of the texts between Dickinson and Forster, and later Forster and Dennis Proctor, see also Stallybrass’s introduction, pp. xi–xiv. 3Aspects of the Novel, published in 1927, was based on Forster’s Clark Lectures given in Trinity College, Cambridge. 4 Stallybrass, ‘Introduction’, p. xiv. 5 Lee Edelman, ‘Queer Theory: Unstaging Desire’, GLQ 2 (1995), 343–6 at 345. 6 Max Saunders, Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature (Oxford, 2010), 216–18. 7 Judith Scherer Herz, ‘E. M. Forster and the Biography of the Self: Redefining a Genre’, Prose Studies: Special Issue on Biography, 5, ed. Philip Dodd and Ira Nadel (1982), 326–35. Ilona M. McGuiness, ‘The Collaborative Rhetoric of E. M. Forster’s Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson’, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, 6 (1991), 253–71. For an introductory contextualization of Forster’s biographical works within contemporary aesthetic experiments in life-writing, see Max Saunders, ‘Forster’s Life and Life-Writing’, in David Bradshaw (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to E. M. Forster (Cambridge, 2007), 20–9. 8 See e.g. Laura Marcus, ‘The Newness of the “New Biography”: Biographical Theory and Practice in the Early Twentieth Century’, in Peter France and William St. Clair (eds.), Mapping Lives: The Uses of Biography (Oxford, 2002), 193–218; Saunders, Self Impression; and John Paul Riquelme (ed.), Modern Fiction Studies: Special Issue: Modernist Life Narratives: Bildungsroman, Biography, Autobiography, 59/3 (2013). 9 Maria DiBattista and Emily O. Wittman, ‘Introduction’, in Maria DiBattista and Emily O. Wittman (eds.), Modernism and Autobiography (Cambridge, 2014), pp. xi–xix at xiii. 10 George Piggford, ‘Camp Sites: Forster and the Biographies of Queer Bloomsbury’, and Joseph Bristow, ‘ Fratrum Societati: Forster’s Apostolic Dedications’, both in Robert K. Martin and George Piggford (eds.), Queer Forster (Chicago, 1997), 89–112 and 113–36. 11 Wendy Moffat, E. M. Forster: A New Life (London, 2010), 228 and 230. 12 Ruth Hoberman, Modernizing Lives: Experiments in English Biography, 1918–1939 (Carbondale, Ill., 1987), 171–8. 13 Ibid. 172. 14 Ibid. 194. 15 Virginia Woolf, The Diary of Virginia Woolf, ed. Anne Olivier Bell, assisted by Andrew McNeillie, 5 vols. (New York, 1977–84), iv. 247. 16 E. M. Forster, The Journals and Diaries of E. M. Forster, ed. Philip Gardner, 3 vols. (London, 2011), ii. 85. 17 See e.g. Werner Wolf, The Musicalization of Fiction: A Study in the Theory and History of Intermediality (Amsterdam, 1999) and Brad Bucknell, Literary Modernism and Musical Aesthetics: Pater, Pound, Joyce, and Stein (Cambridge, 2001). 18 Phyllis Weliver, ‘ A Score of Change: Twenty Years of Critical Musicology and Victorian Literature’, Literature Compass, 8 (2011), 776–94 at 786. Sophie Fuller and Nicky Losseff (eds.), The Idea of Music in Victorian Fiction (Aldershot, 2004) is one of the exemplary studies of music in 19th-c. literature. 19 See e.g. Gillen D’Arcy Wood, Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770–1840 (Cambridge, 2010) and Joseph M. Ortiz, Broken Harmony: Shakespeare and the Politics of Music (Ithaca, 2011). 20 Susan McClary, Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality (Minneapolis, 2002) and Ruth Solie (ed.), Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship (Berkeley, 1993). 21 In particular, Philip Brett, ‘Musicality, Essentialism, and the Closet’, in Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas (eds.), Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology (Routledge, 1994), 9–26. Also Philip Brett, ‘Musicology and Sexuality: The Example of Edward J. Dent’, in Sophie Fuller and Lloyd Whitesell (eds.), Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity (Urbana, Ill., 2002), 177–88, and Philip Brett, Music and Sexuality in Britten: Selected Essays, ed. George E. Haggerty (Berkeley, 2006). See also Wayne Koestenbaum, The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (New York, 1993). 22 Sophie Fuller and Lloyd Whitesell, ‘Introduction’, in Fuller and Whitesell (eds.), Queer Episodes in Music, 1–21 at 2. 23 See, representatively, Emma Sutton, Aubrey Beardsley and British Wagnerism in the 1890s (Oxford, 2002), 24–56; Joe Law, ‘The “Perniciously Homosexual Art”: Music and Homoerotic Desire in The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Fin-de-Siècle Fiction’, in Fuller and Losseff (eds.), The Idea of Music in Victorian Fiction, 173–96; and Emma Sutton, ‘“The Music Spoke for Us”: Music and Sexuality in Fin-de-siècle Poetry’, in Phyllis Weliver (ed.), The Figure of Music in Nineteenth-Century British Poetry (Aldershot, 2005), 213–29. 24 ‘The Raison d’être of Criticism’ (1947), in E. M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, ed. Oliver Stallybrass (London, 1972), 105–18 at 105. 25 For a detailed biography of Forster’s musical taste, piano skills, listening repertory, concert, ballet, and opera attendances, and relationships with musicians and composers, see Michelle Fillion, Difficult Rhythm: Music and the Word in E. M. Forster (Urbana, Ill., 2010), 1–23 and 145–50. 26 Benjamin Britten, ‘Some Notes on Forster and Music’, in Oliver Stallybrass (ed.), Aspects of E. M. Forster (London, 1969), 81–6 at 81. For recent studies of Forster and music, see e.g. Fillion, Difficult Rhythm, and Mi Zhou, ‘Sublime Noise: Reading E. M. Forster Musically’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, 2009). 27 Bret L. Keeling, ‘“No Trace of Presence”: Tchaikovsky and the Sixth in Forster’s Maurice’, Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, 36 (2003), 85–101. 28 Saunders, Self Impression, 17. 29 Ibid. 62. 30 Dickinson, Autobiography, 40. 31 Ibid. 32 MS GLD 1/1/11, Archives Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. Unpublished writings of GL Dickinson © The Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge 2017. This is presumed by the archivists to be Dickinson’s first draft of ‘Recollections’, probably written in summer 1921. 33 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 8. 34 Ibid. 13. 35 Dickinson, Autobiography, 56. 36 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 18–19. 37 The Shakespearean allusions are Forster’s own as there is no mention of Ariel or The Tempest in ‘Recollections’. It is unlikely, though, that Dickinson did not know the character or the play himself. Dickinson would have come across Ariel in the works of two of his favourite writers: P. B. Shelley compared himself to the spirit in ‘With a guitar. To Jane’ (1822), and Goethe opens the second part of Faust with a musical appeal by Ariel to ease Faust’s suffering. 38 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 18. 39 A look at the table of contents of the biography reveals how Forster narrativizes such tension, with the chapter on Dickinson’s study of P. B. Shelley, Plato, and Goethe immediately followed by one entitled as ‘The World of Matter’, or with Dickinson’s retreat from war presented as concurrent with his work for the League of Nations. 40 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 147. 41 Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, The Magic Flute: A Fantasia (London, 1920), 107–9. 42 It is interesting that, in ‘Recollections’, Dickinson did not underline the importance of the imagery; in some ways, he even deliberately downplayed its importance by naming another image—a cherry tree with white double blossoms—as the most recurrent image throughout his life. Dickinson wrote that ‘there was a cherry tree covered in spring with a cloud of double blossom, under which my mother would sit and work her sewing machine, while we read to her’. And he added a footnote saying: ‘I never see the double cherry in our College garden without this scene recurring to me.’ Dickinson, Autobiography, 36–7. Ironically, this is the only instance where Dickinson described the cherry blossom. 43 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 106. 44 Ibid. 29, 32, 66, 90, 124. 45 Ibid. 199. 46 Ibid. 200. 47 Ibid. 201. 48 As Forster comments, Dickinson’s admiration for Goethe ‘was connected with a general tolerance for the Teutonic’: Dickinson ‘pardoned, as the average English cannot, [the Germans’] heaviness, pedantry and docility’ (ibid. 40). Here, the biographer is making a not-too-subtle commentary on contemporary British hostility to Germany. Written in a time when the Nazi regime had come to power and launched the reinterpretation of German literature, Forster’s portrayal of Dickinson as well versed in Goethe’s writings also questions the fascists’ right to exploit their cultural legacy. Modern criticism has observed how Dickinson’s attachment to Goethe was idiosyncratic among contemporaries: it can be contextualized within the lukewarm, if not absolutely negative, reception of Goethe in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is Dickinson’s work on Goethe that later facilitated the revival of the German writer in England among the Auden Generation in the 1930s. See Nicholas Boyle, ‘Introduction’, in Nicholas Boyle and John Guthrie (eds.), Goethe and the English-Speaking World: Essays from the Cambridge Symposium for his 250th Anniversary (Rochester, NY, 2002), 11–16. 49 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 113. 50 E. M. Forster, The Hill of Devi and Other Indian Writings (London, 1983), 113. 51 E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel and Related Writings (London, 1974), 116, 102 and 112. 52 Ibid. 113 and 115. 53 Ibid. 115 and 113. 54 Ibid. 116. 55 Ibid. 56 This way of reading in some ways redirects what has been happening in Forster scholarship, as critics often go backwards and observe how A Passage to India, the novel before Aspects, best exemplifies Forster’s conception of rhythm. See e.g. E. K. Brown, ‘Rhythm in E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India’, in Malcolm Bradbury (ed.), E. M. Forster: A Passage to India. A Casebook (London, 1970), 93–113, and David Medalie, E. M. Forster’s Modernism (Basingstoke, 2002), 124–40. 57 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, 69. 58 Ibid. 59 See e.g. quotations from Leonard Woolf, Michael Holroyd, and George Santayana in Stallybrass, ‘Introduction’, pp. xvi–xvii. 60 Sutton, Aubrey Beardsley, 55. 61 Joseph Kerman and Alan Tyson (with Scott G. Burnham), ‘Beethoven, Ludwig van’, in Grove Music Online (accessed 24 July 2016). 62 Herz, ‘E. M. Forster and the Biography of the Self’, 329. 63 Dickinson, Autobiography, 61. 64 Paul Robinson, Gay Lives: Homosexual Autobiography from John Addington Symonds to Paul Monette (Chicago, 1999), 29. 65 Dickinson, Autobiography, 179. 66 Wendy Moffat, ‘The Narrative Case for Queer Biography’, in Robyn Warhol and Susan S. Lanser (eds.), Narrative Theory Unbound: Queer and Feminist Interventions (Columbus, Ohio, 2015), 210–26 at 216–20. 67 We may also wonder whether Forster chose not to include Dickinson’s use of the moonlight imagery to describe the sense of liberation at Cambridge partially because of contemporary associations of evening music-making at Cambridge with homoeroticism. See e.g. Forster’s own portrayal of Maurice’s first meeting with Clive Durham in Maurice and Virginia Woolf’s depiction in Jacob’s Room. 68 Forster, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, p. xxii. 69 Dennis Proctor, introduction to Dickinson, Autobiography, 7. 70 Robert K. Martin and George Piggford, ‘Introduction: Queer, Forster?’, in Robert K. Martin and George Piggford (eds.), Queer Forster (Chicago, 1997), 1–28 at 6. © The Author (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Music and LettersOxford University Press

Published: Jan 16, 2018

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