“A Liberal Susceptibility to the Pains of Others”: Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, Haiti and the Limits of a Forsterian Intervention

Alberto Fernández Carbajal


This article explores the literary and ideological connections between Zadie Smith’s On Beauty (2005) and E.M. Forster’s Howards End (1910); it argues that On Beauty’s transformation of Leonard Bast into Carl Thomas, a black American rapper, constitutes Smith’s successful refashioning of Forster’s commentary on cross-class relations, whilst the problematic portrayal of a Haitian community perpetuates the ideological shortcomings of Howards End in its inability to make a convincing case for the societal ‘Other’, hence diminishing the impact of the novel’s postcolonial commentary.


E.M. Forster; Howards End; Zadie Smith; On Beauty; Haiti; postcolonial

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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