Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Portrait Gallery: "Only Connect"

Here we have E.M. Forster - author, traveler, and genteel Confirmed Bachelor - by Sir William Rothenstein.

Actually, he had a rather tumultuous life for someone so congenitally mild-looking, including an affair with an Egyptian tram conductor that became his Great Love, as well as a happy and longstanding ménage in later life with a London policeman.

I cherish Forster not just for his novels - who can resist the von Schegel sisters? - but for his travel writing and especially for his deep and abiding fascination with the city of Alexandria. He helped give the world Cavafy, and in its turn that helped give us Durrell's Alexandria Quartet.

Have you been to Alexandria lately? When you go, you must have coffee at the Trianon at the Hotel Metropole and then walk past Ramla Station toward the Royal Jewelry Museum. When a tram passes, you might see a tweedy Englishman making discreet eyes at the conductor...

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