With Anthony Burgess on Hemingway (p. 723) and now Francis King on E. M. Forster, the ""And His World"" series of capsule, illustrated biographies seems to be leaning more and more towards rather flippant and undercutting commentators. And, for some readers, King's near-sneer may indeed provide a desired antidote to P. N. Furbank's acute but tender regard (see above); here, without the softening nest of detail, Forster's mother-dominated timidity and his homosexual tetchiness come across almost as caricature, fitting Cyril Connolly's description of Forster as ""The Sacred Maiden Aunt of English Letters."" King's omissions and interpretations of incidents (occasionally his facts are simply different from Furbank's) are consistently denigrating in effect (even the selected photographs tend towards ridicule), though he stresses Forster's political good works and praises his ""indestructible dignity and decency."" Perhaps King's needling manner stems partly from his negative critical feelings about Forster's work, which, unlike Furbank, he assesses--savaging Howards End, picking at Passage to India, ""masterpiece"" though it is. He is undeniably astute, however, about the relationship between Forster's homosexuality and his writing: ""He was obliged to find a whole series of metaphors for his real sexual preoccupations and it is in these metaphors that so much of the power of his writing resides."" By no means should this brief, idiosyncratic sketch be allowed to stand alone as the word on E. M. Forster; but as an impertinent companion to the well-mannered Furbank, it will have its uses and its admirers.