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In touch with Nature! ' The distinction is vital; and at the time in which these stories were being written it was consistently confused. Forster was attempting to liberate himself from a bad literary tradition. Indeed, the trivialisation of supernatural themes has been a steady and inevitable process coincident with the growth of materialist philosophies since the seventeenth century. One can trace it in the decline of the Longaevi of medieval cosmology through the more playful diminutive fairies of Shakespeare and Drayton to those vestigial presences, half-assumed into classical mythology, that we find in Milton.
On board were many Anglo-Indians, as the) were then called. These I have often seen again. The contrast between their clan and our clique was amusing. We were dubbed 'The Professors' or 'The Salon', and there was the same little nip of frost in these jests as in the title of 'The Three Graces' which had been fastened on Dickinson and his school friends at Charterhouse. They recognized that we were gentlemen, sahibs even, yet there was a barrier. No doubt we did look queer, and once when we were all four in a row at our tea a young officer opposite could not keep grave.
Its analysis of what was wrong with the society of its day was based on an impatience with what it saw as the muddle and stagnation of lower-class life, the complacent philistinism of the bourgeoisie, and the vested interests of the well-to-do. The mass thinking which accompanied mass production was (thanks to the enormous popularity of Harmsworth's Daily Mail) largely right-wing in tendency. The real radicals belonged mostly to the upper middle class, which was where Forster was in contact with them.