Beyond the Book: Background information when reading On Beauty

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On Beauty

By Zadie Smith

On Beauty
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2005,
    464 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2006,
    464 pages.

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About this Book

Beyond the Book

On Beauty is a tribute to E. M. Forster's Howards End, but set in a contemporary American setting.  The Belseys (like Forster's Schlegels) become entangled with another family whose conventional household appears to be the opposite of their own but across the divide the wives form a friendship that leads to a valuable legacy being bequeathed by one woman to the other, leading to concealment and conflict.

Edward Morgan Forster was born in 1879 in London and educated at Cambridge.  While at Cambridge he became a member of a group called the Apostles (formerly the Cambridge Conversazione Society) who discussed moral, intellectual and aesthetic issues.  Many of this group, including Forster, later congregated in London where they became known as the Bloomsbury Group. 

Forster's books, including Howards End (1910) explore class, nationality, economic status, and the effect of each of these elements on personal relationships.   Although...

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