As my jetliner rears back, I look up from E.M.
Forster's Howards End to gaze at the concrete sprawl of airport
momentarily filling my window. The rows of parked airplanes and automobiles make
a fitting backdrop: In the period when Forster wrote Howards End, 1908
to 1910, he was already decrying the filthy, cluttered underside of life in the
motorized age. Although he was not alone in despising the stink of gasoline and
the frantic pace of vehicles, Forster had an unusual grasp of how technological
advance promised to change social interactionoften for the worse.