A Passage to India
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A classic novel about the misperceptions and misunderstandings that illustrate the divide between East and West, E.M. Forster's A Passage to India is a masterpiece of twentieth century English fiction, and an important text for anyone interested in understanding the British involvement in colonial India.

What really happened in the Marabar caves? This is the mystery at the heart of E.M. Forster's 1924 novel, A Passage to India, the puzzle that sets in motion events highlighting an even larger question: Can an Englishman and an Indian be friends?

"It is impossible here," an Indian character tells his friend, Dr. Aziz, early in the novel.

"They come out intending to be gentlemen, and are told it will not do.... Why, I remember when Turton came out first. It was in another part of the Province. You fellows will not believe me, but I have driven with Turton in his carriage--Turton! Oh yes, we were once quite intimate. He has shown me his stamp collection.

"He would expect you to steal it now. Turton! But red-nosed boy will be far worse than Turton!

"I do not think so. They all become exactly the same, not worse, not better. I give any Englishman two years, be he Turton or Burton. It is only the difference of a letter. And I give any Englishwoman six months. All are exactly alike."

Written while England was still firmly in control of India, Forster's novel follows the fortunes of three English newcomers to India--Miss Adela Quested, Mrs. Moore, and Cyril Fielding--and the Indian, Dr. Aziz, with whom they cross destinies. The idea of true friendship between the races was a radical one in Forster's time, and he makes it abundantly clear that it was not one that either side welcomed. If Aziz's friend, Hamidullah, believed it impossible, the British representatives of the Raj were equally discouraging.
"Why, the kindest thing one can do to a native is to let him die," said Mrs. Callendar.
"How if he went to heaven?" asked Mrs. Moore, with a gentle but crooked smile.
"He can go where he likes as long as he doesn't come near me. They give me the creeps."
Despite their countrymen's disapproval, Miss Quested, Mrs. Moore, and Mr. Fielding are all eager to meet Indians, and in Dr. Aziz they find a perfect companion: educated, westernized, and open-minded. Slowly, the friendships ripen, especially between Aziz and Fielding. Having created the possibility of esteem based on trust and mutual affection, Forster then subjects it to the crucible of racial hatred: during a visit to the famed Marabar caves, Miss Quested accuses Dr. Aziz of sexually assaulting her, then later recants during the frenzied trial that follows. Under such circumstances, affection proves to be a very fragile commodity indeed.

Arguably Forster's greatest novel, A Passage to India limns a troubling portrait of colonialism at its worst, and is remarkable for the complexity of its characters. Here the personal becomes the political and in the breach between Aziz and his English "friends," Forster foreshadows the eventual end of the Raj. --Alix Wilber

Customer Reviews:

  • A classic novel
    "A Passage to India" left me a little dissapointed. It starts so promissing, so unusual. It takes you to a different world and different time and you expect a fine journey. But somehow as the story progresse I was still waiting for some more excitment, more interesting characters, developing of deeper feeling. But unfortunately I never found it in this book. The language, the discriptions of India are beautiful. But I expected so much more from it! It's like those Marabar caves around which the plot revolves: you see them from far away, think about them, find them beautiful, but when you come to visit them they are just caves with nothing to make them special.
    There was nothing special for me in this book, except that everything in it happened in India. And I can understand why so many readers are struggling through it.
    The major plot is flat, the characters are plain and uninteresting, they look like cartoon caricatures sometimes. There are a lot of possibilities to make this story shine like a real gem stone. But Forster didn't use any of them. Though I appreciate his idea, his wonderful work over the details and mastering the dialoges. ...more info
  • Bad characters, but a good story
    Forester portrays India through a few main characters in an Indian city called Chandrapore. He describes an incident concerning an English school teacher, a local Muslim doctor, and two English woman. He tries, and the keyword here is "tries", to show the racial and cultural tensions between the English rulers and the Indian locals.

    The way the people are presented in this book is a joke. The main character, Aziz, is laughable. He's unbelievably subservient. Also, the portrayal of Hindus is almost clownlike, and the English are presented as extreme snobs. Forester's India should not be taken as a true representation of India at all.

    The first half is barely readable. The language is not too fluid, and the action is slow. One of my main gripes is that Forester interludes a lot dialog without referring to who is speaking. It's quite disconcerting. The second half is much better. It concentrates on a trial, and the aftermath on friendship. I was able to read this half in one sitting.

    The story itself is enjoyable. The aspects of justice, prejudice and friendship penetrates this novels story in every way. If this book was about some anonymous countrymen in an anonymous country, this would be well worth the price.

    I recommend this book, but as a story, and not as a cultural portrayal....more info

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  • A classic, and very tedious
    This was required reading for my British Literature class. It's the only novel in the class that I struggled with and only struggled from boredom. It is entirely possible that I just do not understand the genius that is Forster, but I did not enjoy this novel. A lover of Forster or Modernist writing might enjoy it more. It must be a classic for a reason. ...more info
  • Not Forster's Masterpiece
    E.M. Forster is definitely an artist, but in A Passage to India his artistry falls short of the mark. As in all of his novels, the themes of this book are both timely and yet eternally relevant; however, the composition of the story doesn't live up to the standard he set with Howard's End. The echoes of Forster's philsophical standards are here, but there is a sense of cynicism and hopelessness that obscures the moral value of the book. Whereas in A Room with A View Forster managed to stamp the entire novel with a certain ideology through a few well phrased and placed passages, A Passage to India is more of a "muddle". And while that metaphoric fog adds to the picturesque effect of the story, it makes the thematic elements more obscure and less open to the reader.

    This book is good, as far as the story goes, but Forster could and did do much better. ...more info
  • Rebuttal
    I first read this book about 20 years ago and it blew me. At the risk of sounding culture-vulturish, I would say that it is not only a novel, it is music with its leitmotifs, it is architectural in its structure and it is a book with a profoundly (sorry about this overused word)humanistic point of view.

    I disagree, strongly with other reviewers who have reviewed this book as a political manifesto. Forster does not condemn the English in India, but rather by allowing us to be flies on the wall to their behaviour and attitudes he allows us to observe them. The condemnation is ours. I don't feel that Forster wrote this novel in order to conform to today's political correctness and to point out "Gee, weren't the English nasty" or "Aren't White Anglo-Saxons dreadful".

    The English in India are a convenient metaphor for his themes of inclusion and exclusion, acceptance and rejection, love that comes from knowledge and acceptance or hate that arises through fear and ignorance.

    Don't read this book with a mindset of "What is going to happen at the trial" or Whodunit. Within the first few pages of the book, the central question around which this novel revolves is posited - "Can an Englishman and an Indian become friends?" and by extension can any two people break down the barriers and come together in friendship. Read the book with this question in mind....more info

  • Forster's best novel
    Miss Quested and Mrs. Moore are good Brits in turn of the century India. They have the best intentions and want to meet real Indians and see the real India. When Dr. Aziz takes them to visit the Marabar Caves, they seem to be penetrating deep into the heart of India. However, Miss Quested is overwhelmed by the caves & accuses Aziz of attacking her & for all their good intentions, they are shown to be just as incapable of understanding Indians as the worst of their fellow Brits.

    This is certainly the best of Forster's novels. The clash of cultures makes for interesting reading. However, after a century of decolonization and independence, it's legitimate to ask whether places like India are better off today, as independent nations, than they were in 1900, as colonies. Forster makes the point that the English will never understand the Indians & can never be friends with them, but will Hindus ever understand Moslems & can they ever be friends? More importantly, even if the English never could befriend the Indians, wasn't their governance, at least, enlightened & constructive? Whereas, the Hindus who feel actual hatred towards the Moslems (& vice versa) have governed in a backward and destructive manner? Should ethnicity be the deciding factor in who governs a country or are governing principles (democracy, capitalism, religious tolerance) more important to the welfare of the population?

    It seems to me that Forster & his ilk bet on ethnicity & events have shown them to be catastrophically mistaken.

    GRADE: B...more info

  • Great Imagery and Character Development but...
    "A Passage to India" contains some of the best imagery and character development of any book I have read in quite a long time. This era of writing is definitely in a class by itself. The overall plot and storyline is somewhat dissapointing though. Forster should have spent a little more time in developing the climax of the book. Overall, I would definitely suggest this book to anyone looking to get a birds eye view into India during Englands dominance....more info
  • The Echoing Malabar Caves Speak Loudly and Clearly
    At its core A PASSAGE TO INDIA is a darkly pessimistic view of the future between India and Great Britain. When E. M. Forster published it in 1924, England had but recently begun to divest itself not only of its overseas colonial empire but also the attendant mind set that was proving more difficult to eradicate. Many English still believed, even if subconsciously, that Indians, in their swarthiness and what to the English seemed like their grubby living conditions in Bombay were utterly incapable of carrying on in any meaningful way without the constant assistance of Britain. It was against this background that Forster wrote of the bitterness and harsh feelings that he saw as deeply ingrained on both sides. Ironically, for those who view his book as a raw but honest portrayal of this mutual acrimony, Forster himself is guilty of the same underlying assumptions against which he so eloquently rails.

    The dramatic focus begins with Dr. Aziz, an intelligent Moslem physician who sees the English as arrogance personified but is inclined to think that with a growing understanding and compassion, the walls of prejudice may be breached and India and England may co-exist in reasonable harmony. He is aided in this belief by his association with Mrs. Moore, a liberal Englishwoman, and Cyril Fielding, an equally understanding principal of the British Government College. However, when Aziz attends a bridge party given by various English personnel, he is rudely treated and is humiliated, causing him to rethink his earlier optimism. The climax of the book occurs when Aziz invites Mrs. Moore and her friend Adela Quested to visit the mysterious Malabar Caves, where wind and echoes resound. During their trip, Adela hears the wind and becomes disoriented. She later claims that Aziz assaulted her, a crime for which he is arrested and tried in court. This trial becomes a national event, and when Adela recants her accusation, Aziz is freed, but he is terribly embittered, and India itself sees the accusation as yet another example of English condescension. The novel ends with Aziz breaking all ties with his friend Fielding.

    Early in the novel, Forster clearly states his belief that it may not be possible for English and Indians to live in harmony. He suggests that in the early and friendly relations between Aziz and Fielding such a harmony may be realized, but as the book's events reveal, that this harmony is but an illusion, as wispy as the sounds echoing from Malabar Caves. The friendship between the two is not strong and is based more on shared philosophical goals than personal affinities. During the course of the bitter trial, this friendship proves incapable of supporting the strain and is finished. The other liberal, Mrs. Moore, is conveniently spirited out of the book so she need not testify on Aziz's behalf. When Forster closes with Aziz defiantly proclaiming that he is now staunchly in the camp of those who oppose social reconciliation, there is a tendency to overlook what undercuts what otherwise might be Forster's surface sadness at his view that matters between England and India are irreparably breached. Forster is so relentlessly insistent in his belief that this gap is permanent that the reader begins to wonder whether Forster's reasons lie more with subliminal agreement with the "white man's burden" rather than any objective assessment of undeniable fact. Further, when he allows Mrs. Moore to so conveniently avoid helping Aziz during the trial, Forster may simply have found the path of least resistance and thus not have to worry about questioning his own underlying assumptions. The problems, then, in identifying and confronting the issues that Forster raised in 1924 are as elusive today as were the echoes that resonated so loudly in the Marabar Caves the day Adela Quested opened that can of racial worms.
    ...more info
  • Passage to India from the point of view of a high schooler
    I had to read this book as a recommendation by my tenth grade English teacher for an Independent Study project. I was excited about reading it; everyone says it's good and I think India is interesting. However, having read the book thoroughly, even the confusing first half, I am not sure what the focus was supposed to be. Other reviewers said it was a look at the culture of India, my English teacher said it was a portrayal of different kinds of people, some people say it's the mystery of the trial concerned with racism and prejudice... I am not sure what I am supposed to be left feeling at the end of the book.

    This was not a "bad" book - I am glad I read it and I would recommend it to others. It doesn't have an exciting plot or particularly likeable characters, but Forster has good insight into society and what makes people make and break friendships. I was left feeling confused on almost every level from this book, but in some ways it was an eye-opener. It should not be read to learn about India, since Forster seems to mention customs and interesting places offhandly and as a matter of course; it should neither be read as an investigation into what makes people tick. If you want to save yourself confusion, don't read it at all.

    However, I liked the book because it was puzzling. I had to really think to figure out why there were such problems between Aziz and his English friend Fielding. I finished this book last night, and it has helped me understand something, though I can't yet put my finger on what....more info

  • E.M Foster's Beloved Classic
    Being the "Orientalist" that I am, I simply loved "A Passage to India" E.M Foster does an excellent job on character development and the relationships that build up to fall; then of course, build up again. The entire book is a rollercoaster of friends and foes. The book will keep you puzzled at who really is the antagonist and protagonist of the story. The book has many symbolic meanings within itself that deal with humanity and conflict in general.

    My favorite character in the book was Mr. Fielding. He related to my own character in so many ways. He seemed to be one of the few who wanted to understand the Indians (Muslim and Hindu).
    The book is dealing with the conflict that the British and Indian people had when the British Raj was in power. Looking from both sides of the spectrum, it really exposes the prejudice one had for another. Not only is it a matter of separation in India by the Indian and British, but it also deals with another internal conflict in India with Muslims and Hindus. Truly, it was a divided India.

    While sometimes a tedious read, "A Passage to India" plays out to be a very well-written story full of rich history, interesting characters, and very opinionated peoples. This book is highly recommended to anyone who would like to understand some very interesting customs of India. Check it out!...more info
  • Awesome book.
    This is avery insightful book that I would recommend to anyone. I downloading the book on my kindle a few days ago and i just finished reading it last night. I especially found the detailed reminder of the problems we have in our society today including racism and prejudice. This is a very good book to sit and read on the weekend....more info
  • East and West Can Never Meet
    Almost a century after the book's publication the most crucial problems it discussed are as current as they were during Forster's life. The impossibility of communicating across the divide of culture, religion, and race, seems to be even more alive then when he saw it. The value of the novel lies not so much in representing it but in the fact that Forster offers a way out - personal contact. There is little chance people will suddenly like Muslims, Pakistanis, gays, lesbians, Moroccans, Turkish, Kurds etc etc - there is a chance (a very slim chance, Forster would be quick to add) that an American and a Muslim, a Turk and a Kurd, an Israeli and a Palestinian can be friends. The world may not want it, the people that surround them may not want it but the results depend on us alone. If we do not try we only have ourselves to blame....more info
  • Stellar performance
    As one of Forster's greatest fans, A Passage to India is undoubtedly his greatest work. His abillity to conjure characters so different and yet so solidly entrenched in 'englishness.'

    Don't let the film version disswade you, indeed, Merchant & Ivory are masters in adapting Forster's words to images, but if you like Forster's writings, then by all means choose this one!...more info

  • Couldn't do it
    I wanted to like this classic but I gave up after Chapter 6. I found the characters confusing and couldn't relate to the story or understand a lot of the terminology used. I didn't feel compelled to make a study of it. I loved Mistry's A Fine Balance and hoped for a similarly well-developed story and characters. ...more info
  • The Kindness and Caring Required to Bridge Cultural Gaps
    A Passage to India vividly demonstrates the psychology of how people avoid those who are different than themselves. The litmus test of this problem is identified by how even friendly people assume the worst about others, rather than keeping an open mind or assuming the best.

    The book is less successful at providing a model of how to overcome those weaknesses. Mrs. Moore, a visiting Englishwoman, in the book successfully establishes a friendship with Dr. Aziz, a Muslim physician in Chandrapore, India. The connection is deeply embedded in her sincere interest in all other people and their feelings. She arrives in the book with that empathy, and only one of her sons also seems to have the same fineness of emotional connection. Another son clearly doesn't. So, it's a rare trait, even in families. There is no evidence of how to create that attitude which leads to such rapid and firm trust.

    More typical is the friendship between Dr. Aziz and Cyril Fielding. Both are committed to each other, but are quick to suspect each other's motives. A continuing effort allows them to reconcile. One has to suppose that their relationship is the model that E.M. Forester had in mind for most of us. We can connect with others we respect and like, and with hard work can overcome miscommunications and suspicion.

    Dr. Aziz is portrayed in a very thoughtful way. He wants to have friends across the cultural divide, and makes enormous efforts in that respect. However, his intentions often have unintended consequences. He bears up and moves forward. I was impressed from this character about the need to have many people who seek friendship in order to make connections possible.

    The plot builds around the arrival of Mrs. Moore, the mother of a local English magistrate, with Miss Adela Quested, who is considering whether to marry Mrs. Moore's magistrate son. Like many newcomers to colonial India, they are interested in meeting native people and seeing the local sites. In attempting to respond to their interests, the various connections take place. Both are initially appalled by the attitude of those English people who have long lived in India towards the Hindus and Muslims there.

    The book raises important questions at several levels, such as:

    (1) Can people with very different religious beliefs live in peace with one another?

    (2) Can colonialism ever be anything other than bad for all involved?

    (3) How should one adapt to the local community in which one lives, if it is different from one's own background?

    (4) What should people be willing to do to help one another?

    (5) What should people not do to help one another?

    (6) How can mistrust be dispelled?

    (7) How does racism harm the person who is a racist?

    A major drawback of the book is that many of the characters are usually unappealing. Even Mrs. Moore, who serves as the ideal in many ways, retreats into self-centered inaction as her health fails. Miss Quested repays Dr. Aziz's hospitality with putting his life and finances in great peril. Cyril Fielding seems to often do too little to bridge the cultural gaps. Dr. Aziz often comes across as a toady. The other English people have severe drawbacks. The characters are often surmounted by their agendas.

    One aspect of the book that I liked was the way it showed how those accused of crimes bring out the fundamental social flaws of the community. This happens in fiction in Gone with the Wind in the sequence where Scarlett has some problems driving her carriage, and her complaints lead the white men to attack the African-Americans who live in the area where her problem occurred. In France, the trial of the Jewish Captain Dreyfus created a similar split in the community and rise in racist feelings and actions.

    The story also seems a little dated, so that the characters seem too extreme to us today to be credible. They more often seem to be caricatures than characters.

    After you read this story, think about whom you ignore. Why do you do that? What effect does it have on those you ignore? What effect does it have on you? What should you do?

    Seek friendship and mutual understanding among all those you meet!

    ...more info

  • "I haven't received it YET"....
    Ok, that I live in Italy, but even if a whole month's already elapsed, I haven't gotten yet this book...
    Honestly, I had hoped for a quicker delivery....more info
  • East and West Can Never Meet
    Almost a century after the book's publication the most crucial problems it discussed are as current as they were during Forster's life. The impossibility of communicating across the divide of culture, religion, and race, seems to be even more alive then when he saw it. The value of the novel lies not so much in representing it but in the fact that Forster offers a way out - personal contact. There is little chance people will suddenly like Muslims, Pakistanis, gays, lesbians, Moroccans, Turkish, Kurds etc etc - there is a chance (a very slim chance, Forster would be quick to add) that an American and a Muslim, a Turk and a Kurd, an Israeli and a Palestinian can be friends. The world may not want it, the people that surround them may not want it but the results depend on us alone. If we do not try we only have ourselves to blame....more info
  • Exiles All
    First of all, I'd like to commend the reviewer G.B. Talovich (in the Spotlight Reviews as I write this) for his analysis of the archetype underpinnings of the novel. It made me reconsider the novel as a whole and appreciate it all the more.

    A Passage to India was written in 1924 and it bears similarities to some of Forster's literary contemporaries, most notably Orwell's Burmese Days and the short stories of Somerset Maugham. Here we have India, ancient, diverse, plagued with ancient schisms, a "muddle", under the authoricratic rule of colonial Britain. The British portrayed here conform to the rule: stuffy and prejudiced, with no love for their foreign station, maintaining a thin veneer of the Victorian role - to keep themselves "proper", warding away the dust and sweat and sweltering heat of an exoticism they can never truly understand, nor wish to incorporate. It's all about tennis and tea-time and the Club. As a contrast to these rigid expatriates, Forster introduces two arrivals, Mrs. Moore and Ms. Quested, initially starry-eyed and curious about the subcontinent, willing to taste the culture - if only taste, and nothing more - to satisfy the instinct for romance and adventure. This leads them into contact with the Muslim Dr. Aziz, who promises to show them India and ends up doing so more than any of them wish; "that incident at the Marabar Caves" results in explosively exposing the dichotomy of social conduct and temperament between disparate cultures, the superiority-wound ever-festering beneath the Western mandate to civilize and the East's own long-standing hierarchy establishment.

    To wit: "It was, in a new form, the old, old trouble that eats the heart out of every civilization: snobbery, the desire for possessions, creditable appendages; and it is to escape this rather than the lusts of the flesh that saints retreat into the Himalayas. (chapter 26 pg 235, old penguin edition)"

    At first I was a bit puzzled by Forster's approach, but as I read on it dawned on me that the author was displaying not just the discomfort and isolation of the British, but that of Aziz as well. As a Muslim, he is forced to inhabit three worlds: that of the dominant Hindu population, that of the snooty colonials and, deep within, that of his own faith and culture, marginalized by sheer population. Victimized as much by his own people as by the judgment-cry of the West, he eventually chooses exile, augmented in the final section `Temple'. The `Author's Voice' character, the atheist and open-minded Fielding, also capitulates to the home-town creed by the end of the novel, sacrificing his freedom for the reward of security, the buffer against the exile's loneliness, and his final meeting with Aziz - in which the earth itself seems to grumble that reconciliation between East and West cannot yet happen - is more powerful because of where these two characters have gone and what they have, in effect, given up due to outward pressures.

    A Passage to India is widely regarded as a masterpiece of the 20th century, highlighting the internal conflicts that would, in time, lead to Indian independence, casting a caustic eye to the irrevocable differences endemic to East/West relationships whenever superstition and racism rear their ugly heads... an all too common occurrence. Recommended.
    ...more info
  • There is beauty here.
    First of all, I should say that as I grow older I'm learning that everything I read more than five years should probably not be included in the list of books I've read. I first read A Passage to India in 1994. I know this because in my quasi obsession, through most of the nineties, to catch up on reading the important books years I had never read, I wrote the dates at which I started and finished each book on the inside cover. When I picked A Passage to India up again this summer, I was stunned to find that, except for a few hazy vaguenesses, I had forgotten the book completely. I certainly had no memory of its beauty. At the heart of A Passage to India are the issues of race, friendship, decency, and the clash of cultures in British India at the turn of the 20th century. Forster's story is polyphonic, which is to say it is told from a number of voices. His prose is beautiful enough to stop you, and the novel's larger questions are ones that continue to resonate with the world's denizens even at the turn of this century....more info
  • A classic about cultures colliding
    A Passage to India is a complicated novel about British imperialism in India in the 1920s, and about the relationship between the natives and the British as those two cultures collide.

    The story revolves around several characters: Adela Quested, a young woman come to India to marry a government official; her potential future mother-in-law, Mrs. Moore; Dr. Aziz, a local doctor who becomes friends with these ladies, until something shocking happens one day on an outing that changes things forever; and Cecil Fielding, another member of the expatriate community.

    In some respects, A Passage to India hasn't aged all that well. I also found my attention wandering in some places. But still, it's a well-written novel about what happens when East meets West....more info
  • Hard to Believe this Was Written 80+ Years Ago [24][58][T]
    The love-hate relationships weave throughout this book to an extent unlike any other that I have ever read.

    Major characters and young lovers, Adela Quested and Ronny Heaslop, love and hate and love and finally part from one another. Their engagement sizzles out in the heat of the Indian summer. Other major characters, Dr. Aziz and Professor Fielding, are great friends, to the point where Fielding severs relations with his separatist British friends in honor of his wrongly arrested Indian friend. But, through strange facts and circumstances, Aziz begins to hate, then detest and ultimately love him again.

    Perhaps the greatest love, with no hate, is Mrs. Moore. She loves Indians - not just India. Indians respond with a loving chant of her name - Esmiss Esmoor. She rises to the divine. But, alas even she must demure to the almighty British imperialistic state - this is a 1924 novel when India and Britain were in a love-hate relationship of their own.

    This novel is Forster's great rebound. Thought to be a severely suffering writer-blocked novelist, he could reach no more for Italy to spur him to the typewriter ("A Room with a View" and "Where Angels Fear to Tread"). Unlike "Room" or "Angels", he does not deliver an ethical question to the reader as handled by British aristocracy. The moral or ethical question here is directed to all Brits -- rich or poor, new to India or born to India -- and asks if what they do to others is devastingly harmful, let alone inappropriate.

    Divided in the three parts, the book sets you up [Part I: Mosque], slams the British [Part II: Caves] and sums it up [Part III: Temple]. To his credit, Forster's delivery of this book may have been as recklessly brave as Fielding's protection of Dr. Aziz - the British with whom each associates would not kindly take to each's allegiance to the "other" side.

    Much akin to America's great "To Kill a Mockingbird", this novel deals with the classic trial of a great citizen of the oppressed who allegedly acted wrongly to one of the young white women. Unlike "Mockingbird", this book concentrates more on the victim of the allegations and allows him to receive true justice - the white woman in this trial has a great deal more character and saves his day.

    I can only wonder how this book affected Britain. Like Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", people were probably enlightened by this book's revelations. British people would have had to discuss the atrocities contained within the pages of this novel and social change would inevitably follow. Written strongly with great drama, this book unfortunately remains applicable to today's world and probably still would be discussed if delivered to themainstream reading masses....more info
  • Forster At His Finest
    A Passage to India is the quintessential British novel of the twentieth century. It is E.M. Forster at his finest. Forster uses his experiences as a foreigner abroad to vividly display the strained relations between colonial Brits and their Indian subjects. The importance of this cross cultural novel is as relevant today as it was when first published in the 1920's. The descriptions of India are striking and beautiful, told with a simplicity reminiscent of Hemingway and an honesty I thought peculiar only to Capote. Easily Forster's most memorable and engaging novel wherein the author shows that with age comes a kind of excellence....more info
  • An interesting look at Society in British India
    Written in 1924, this book offers an excellent presentation of social constructs in Colonial India from both the British and Indian perspectives. It was fascinating to see how various actions and situations were interpreted by members of the two different civilisations. When one reads this book keeping in mind the period in which it appeared, it is amazing to note just how ahead of its time it was. Ideas presented, such as the notion that India might one day be a nation instead of several very different groups of people-Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, are really quite revolutionary. While events did not transpire quite as the book may have alluded to (Colonial India was made of up the present-day nations of India and Pakistan, which came about after a very bloody war- hence two nations not one), they are nonetheless far ahead of their times.

    While I encourage everyone to read this book for the very candid insights into the mindsets of British Colonials and Indians of the time period, I did not give this book a 5 for several reasons. Firstly, the use of many foreign words (of Urdu origin I presume), while adding flavour to the story also made reading a bit difficult as I was unfamiliar with many of them, and could not find them in and English dictionary. It was a bit confusing as many of the words were not explained. Secondly, in my opinion there were large passages where nothing of import was said. This, unfortunately, did not add to the reading experience for me. This aside, I do think it is a book worth reading, especially for its status as a modern classic and the unique point of view from which it is written....more info

  • Clash of Two Cultures Basis for Tragic Tale
    Britishers Mrs. Moore and her prospective daughter-in-law, Adela Quested, make the arduous journey to India to visit Mrs. Moore's son, Ronny Heslop. He is a magistrate in Chandrapore, India, during the British occupation of that country. The two ladies make the acquaintance of Dr. Aziz, a local doctor who offers them a chance to see the "real India" by visiting the Marabar caves. Hoping to please the British ladies, he plans a wonderfully complicated and expensive journey. However, an unfortunate misunderstanding erupts into a tragic affair that point up the cultural differences and seething anger between the two cultures.

    Was Miss Quested attacked by Dr. Aziz in the caves? This question becomes the central issue which propels the plot and lays bare the hostility and polarizing feelings of superiority and inferiority prevalent at the time. The reader is swept into the life of Dr. Aziz as more misunderstandings cause a permanent rift with his dearest friend and gives him a genuine hatred of the English. While the pompous Heslop contends his countrymen are in India to do justice and keep the peace, the appalling behavior on both sides explodes at a trial and lingers long after.

    Forster is adept at not taking sides, at showing both the British as well as the Indian side of the issues. In his fair and balanced telling, the reader can alternately sympathize with Dr. Aziz or Miss Quested. Neither wins when the truth is revealed and both are forever scarred by the incident in the Marabar caves.

    In 1984, David Lean brought this drama to the big screen and, in my opinion, actually improved on the source material by making the characters more sympathetic and capturing visually the beauty of India. Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested atop an elephant riding to the Marabar caves is a breath-taking scene and one any viewer will long remember.

    ...more info