Sam Waterman is Assistant Professor of English at the New College of the Humanities, where he teaches literature from 1830 to the present, and Associate Lecturer in Philosophy, English, and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. Sam is currently completing a monograph entitled After Men: Modernist Adventure and Post-Patriarchal Work, which traces a genealogy of the creative economy and the feminization of work from the modernist period to the present.
Margaret’s plea to her somewhat work-phobic younger brother might sound a little odd, since she does not—work, that is. Instead, as she enigmatically puts it in the preceding line, she “pretends” to work, engaging in a host of cultural activities with an energy redolent of work, perhaps, but with few of its economic imperatives. What this strange formulation pretending to work might mean in the context of E. M. Forster’s 1910 novel—indeed, in the context of 1910 more broadly—is one way to frame the question posed by this essay.