PERSPECTIVErnTwo Rooms With a Viewrnby Thomas FlemingrnIt has been the usual 56-hour da- spent in airports under siegernfrom CNN and mierovvave-burued pizza, eramped into buses,rntaxis, and the midget seats of American Airlines steerage withrntwo varieties of imdriukable \ine-produet to wash down thern”looks-like-chieken” alternative to the ine’itable “pasta” theyrnserve on flights to Italv, but now we are actuallv in our room atrnthe Hotel Forum. It is a sunny winter’s da-, and last night’s rainrnis still steaming u|) from the potholes and depressions of the ‘iarndei Fori ImperiaH, a street that has not been well maintainedrnsince II Ducc (who built it as an imperial aenuc to connect thernPiazza Venezia with the Colosseum) had to leae Rome suddenlyrnfor a vacation in the mountains. I throw open the windowsrnand look out upon the Forum of Augustus and the streetrnwhere the ears and buses ride —their drivers blissfully unawarern—on top of the ruins of Trajan’s librar}’. We are almostrntoo happy to be in Rome, and I am struck once again by the disconcertingrnthought that I may be joining the ranks of so manyrnF.nglish and American writers who became expatriates and euhrntural traitors.rnApart from Hemingway’s first novel and, if you can standrnthem, some of Henrv James’ fiction dealing with Americansrnabroad, few of these writers set their best works in Itah orrnFrance. One exeepfion is E.M. Forster. Despite the popularity-rnof his “foreign” novels (and the films based on them), Forsterrnhas been roufinelv ridiculed by conser’afives (especially duringrnthe Cold War) as the intellectual cheerleader for the Cambridgern”homintcru” (as George Orwell described the homosexualrnarts) tpes who went to work for the Soviet Union), and thernembodiment of the “trahmn des clercs” among the chatteringrnclass.rnIn his 1938 cssav “Two Cheers for LOemoerae-,” Forsterrnmade his famoirs declarafion of disloyalt): “[I]f I had to choosernbetween betraying mv countr- and betraying m’ friend, 1 hopernI should have tlic guts to betray m’ countn.”rnForstcr’s bald statement does seem like an inxitation to treason,rnand a sketch of his career docs little to dispel the miasmarnemitted bv his essa—a homosexual Cambridge Apostle and arnfriend of John Manard Kevnes, L tton Strachey, and thernWoolfs; a partisan of die Boers during the Boer War, a conscientiousrnobjector in the Great War, and a crifie of imperial policvrnbetween the wars; a prominent member of the communistrnfront Nafional Council of Ciil Libcrfies—so manv steps in therntraitor’s euraus hononim.rnThe ovitline, however, is deceiving. Forster was ncer muchrnof a leftist. He belonged, b’ hrs own account, to “the fag-end ofrnVictorian liberalism.” Although he did come to believe thatrncapitalism was destroying socict}’, his conventional social iewsrnshould have endeared him to conservatives on both sides of thernAtlanfie: faith in the indiidual, belief in hard work, appreciationrnof the middle cla.sses.rnWh would such a man advocate treason? The simple answerrnis that he did not. Forstcr’s full sentence begins: “I hate diernidea of causes,” before going on to saw “and if I had to choosernbetween betraying m’ eountr- and betraying my friend, I hopernI should ha e the guts to betrav my country.” I le concludes notrnwirii a ringing declarafion of the dut’ to aid die class strugglernbut wifii an appeal to ancient and medieval notions of loyaltrnand friendship: “Such a choice mav scandalize file modernrnreader . . . It would not have shocked Dante, though. Danternplaces Brutus and Cassius in fiie low est circle of Hell becairsernthev had chosen to betrav their friend Jidius Caesar rather fiianrntheir countrv Rome.”rnOf course, For.ster may have made an historical error in believingrnShakespeare’s Mark Antony—who said “Brutus wasrnCaesar’s angel” —but far from calling for ideological commitment,rnhe was declaring his opposifion to een the idea of eaiises.rnForstcr’s second novel. The Longest journey, gives a clearerrnlO/CHRONICLESrnrnrn