Episode 17: “The Celestial Omnibus” by E. M. Forster
On this week’s episode of The Literary Life, Angelina Stanford and Cindy Rollins are joined once more by Thomas Banks for their discussion of “The Celestial Omnibus” by E. M. Forster. Angelina and Cindy tell why they love this short story so much and how it encapsulates their own ideas about literature. Thomas gives us some biographical background on E. M. Forster. We get a brief look at the plot of the story, as well as some discussion of how allegorical Forster makes this story. Angelina highlights the idea presented in “The Celestial Omnibus” that what we see in fairy land is more real than what we see in our own world.
Other themes our hosts bring up include modern educational theory, wonder and innocence, using poetry versus enjoying it, and literary critique contrasted with experiencing literature. Their conversation hinges around the contrast between Mr. Bons’ pride and pretension and the boy’s humility and sincerity. This story embodies everything that The Literary Life podcast is all about, so we hope you enjoy both the story and this episode!
Listen to The Literary Life:
Summer of the Short Story:
Ep 18: “Vulture on War” by Samuel Johnson
September 19: How to Love Poetry Webinar with Thomas Banks
Port of Aerial Embarkation
by John Ciardi
There is no widening distance at the shore—
The sea revolving slowly from the piers—
But the one border of our take-off roar
And we are mounted on the hemispheres.
Above the waning moon whose almanac
We wait to finish continents away,
The Northern stars already call us back,
And silence folds like maps on all we say.
Under the sky, a stadium tensed to cry
The ringside savage thrumming of the fights,
We watch our engines, taut and trained for sky,
Arranged on fields of concrete flowered with lights.
Day after day we fondle and repeat
A jeweler’s adjustment on a screw;
Or wander past the bulletins to meet
And wander back to watch the sky be blue.
Somehow we see ourselves in photographs
Held in our hands to show us back our pride
When, aging, we recall in epitaphs
The faces just behind and to each side.
The nights keep perfect silence. In the dark
You feel the faces soften into sleep,
Or tense upon the fraught and falling arc
Of fear a boy had buried not too deep.
Finally we stand by and consciously
Measure the double sense of all our talk,
And, everyman his dramatist, anxiously
Corrects his role, his gesture, and his walk.
Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
Mental Efficiency by Arnold Bennett
How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett
Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett
Howards End by E. M. Forster
Kristen Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
Til We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
Religio Medici by Thomas Browne
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