Originally a course of Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge University in 1927, Aspects of the Novel is E.M. Forster's look at the the driving forces of the novel.
Painfully conscious of "the gulf between the critical and the creative state" and wary of addressing a primarily academic audience, he took the audacious step of stepping away from the traditional approach to examining literature as a stately progression of style through different periods.
Discarding the historical view, Forster examines the main themes and structures in the novel: the story, people, the plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern and and rhythm. He talks as though all the novelists through history are at work together, sitting in a circular room, commenting on each other's approach.
Surprisingly, for the time, he aimed to annoy, even to madden people with his comments, and even covered himself with an attack against "pseudo-scholarship" in the opening lecture. He delighted in causing an uproar, and starting a lively debate about what the novel is and was.
The source of that rather bitter comment, "Yes - oh dear yes - the novel tells a story', this book is the source of a thousand different A Level essay questions, usually with the word 'discuss' tacked on after every quote.
He was paid 200 pounds for his series of lectures.