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A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
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A Passage to India (1924)

by E. M. Forster

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,087107330 (3.77)488
  1. 50
    The Raj Quartet, Volume 1: The Jewel in the Crown; The Day of the Scorpion by Paul Scott (FemmeNoiresque)
    FemmeNoiresque: Scott's The Raj Quartet, and particularly the relationship between Daphne Manners and Hari Kumar in the first novel, The Jewel In The Crown, is a revisioning of the charge of rape made by Adela Quested to Dr Aziz. Race, class and empire are explored in the aftermath of this event, in WWII India.… (more)
  2. 50
    Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (li33ieg)
    li33ieg: Same author, different setting, same core themes
  3. 40
    Maurice by E. M. Forster (li33ieg)
    li33ieg: The man is brilliant! One should read all of his books!
  4. 30
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: You could use the theme of colonialism to pair The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver with Passage to India by E. M. Forster.
  5. 21
    The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: These two novels bear close relationship in setting and circumstance.
  6. 10
    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (Booksloth)
  7. 00
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (WildMaggie)
  8. 00
    Staying On by Paul Scott (KayCliff)
  9. 00
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (kiwiflowa)
  10. 00
    Slowly Down the Ganges by Eric Newby (John_Vaughan)
  11. 00
    Hindoo Holiday: An Indian Journal by J. R. Ackerley (SomeGuyInVirginia)
  12. 23
    The Jewel in the Crown [1984 TV Mini-Series] by Christopher Morahan (li33ieg)
    li33ieg: Similar period and themes
1920s (4)
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Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
I had actually never read any E. M. Forster before teaching this novel. There's a lot going on in it: it amazes me to think that anyone could have ever wondered if it was pro-British or pro-Indian, but maybe that's my modern anti-colonialist biases at work. (Though maybe as a feminist, I should believe the accusation.) The crux of the whole book is arguably the incident in the caves, but the alleged sexual assault is just one part of that. There's a weird break in the narration at that moment-- if there is a sexual assault, it occurs between pages, and that feels like a cheat designed to up the ambiguity, given how closely Forster renders point-of-view throughout the rest of the novel.

But is it a cheat? If there was a sexual assault, it's a very modernist move to indicate it through a break in narration: the trauma of the event would render it unthinkable and therefore unnarratable. (It's kind of like, but very different to, how Hardy handles the rape of Tess in Tess of the D'Urbervilles, which I taught in the same class.)

However, then the cheat becomes: if there wasn't a sexual assault, why is there a break in the narration? The answer to that, I would argue, lies earlier in the novel, where we are told, "Most of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it, and the books and talk that would describe it as interesting are obliged to exaggerate, in the hope of justifying their own existence" (146). Like all moments where fiction tells you about what fiction does, you have to read this as indicative of what this work of fiction is or is not doing. According to A Passage to India, there are long passages of time where nothing happens, where the brain is lying if it indicates emotion was actually felt: "a perfectly adjusted organism would be silent" (146). So if nothing happened in the caves, of course there's a break in the narration, because if nothing is happening, the book must be silent since this book is a "perfectly adjusted organism," not an exaggerator like all those earlier works of fiction.

What is easy to overlook if you focus on the sexual assault, I think, is that there's another act of violence in the cave: Mrs. Moore's crisis of faith. Mrs. Moore struggles with what she thought were fundamentals of existence when she finally travels to a place where they are not true. India is older than anything in world (135), upsetting her beliefs in Britain and in Christianity, and the darkness of the cave shows how a whisper can be echoed to seem all-consuming (166). She thinks the cave is evil, but it turns out to just be that the cave amplifies what is brought into it; I never thought I'd make this comparison, but it's basically the cave from The Empire Strikes Back. In the end, she cannot write down what happened (165)-- it really was too traumatic for her. Later we are told that there is no sorrow like Mrs. Moore's sorrow, the experience of an utterly unprofound vision. When East meets West, Mrs. Moore accesses the modern condition and realizes how meaningless life is. Poor woman.
  Stevil2001 | Mar 24, 2017 |
This book is not for those who want to jump in and devour a book. Mrs. Moore and Adela want to see the "real India" not just that which their government views as the most "civilised", i.e., most like British colonialism can make them. Mrs. Moore meets an Indian doctor who agrees to take Mrs. Moore and Adela to a local caves. What happens from this innocent invitation drives the story to its conclusion.

Forster's strength lies in his ability to connect us to the characters and places, perhaps he does this too well as I wanted to read idly on about those characters. Forster also does a good job of understand both the British and Indian mindsets of this time period. ( )
  mmoj | Mar 2, 2017 |
This novel is interesting for the different viewpoints demonstrated between the Indian population and the English occupiers. ( )
  Tifi | Oct 17, 2016 |
I can't say I'm a Forster fanatic after reading A Passage to India but I did enjoy the writing and the questions the content brought up. Not just in a racism context but, in all honesty, a general-human context even more so. From race to religion, we're so quick to classify ourselves and others. Then to set ourselves apart from various classifications as if that somehow gives us worthiness. My main view of this book is that it's excellent in it's ability to show all the idiocy for what it is, misunderstandings and the mayhem that results. ( )
1 vote lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
A brilliant novel that stands well the test of time. And so perfectly descriptive I wish that I could actually visit the places that Forster creates in his imagination. ( )
1 vote soylentgreen23 | Jul 3, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (69 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Forster, E. M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dastor, SamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diaz, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magadini, ChristopherIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanders, Scott RussellAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stallybrass, OliverEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To Syed Ross Masood and to the seventeen years of our friendship
First words
Except for the Marabar caves--and they are twenty miles off--the city of Chrandrapore presents nothing extraordinary.
Towards the end of 1906 Theodore Morison, who until recently had been Principal of the Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh and now lived ay Weybridge, Surrey, was looking for a tutor in Latin for his Indian ward Syed Ross Masood, a young Moslem of good, indeed distinguished, family who was destined for Oxford. (Editor's Introduction)
The India described in A Passage to India no longer exists either politically or socially. (Prefatory Note)
Perhaps it is chance, more than any peculiar devotion, that determines a man in his choice of medium, when he finds himself possessed by an obscure impulse towards creation. (Introduction)
Quotations
"We must exclude someone from our gathering, or we shall be left with nothing."
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A mysterious incident at the Marabar caves, involving Adela Quested, newly arrived from England, and the presumed guilt of charming and mercurial Dr. Aziz, are at the centre of Forster's magnificent novel of India during the Raj. Topical now, as in 1924, in its evocation of the dangers and ambivalences inherent in colonialism, as Forster said, it is 'about something wider than politics, about the search of the human race for a more lasting home, about the universe as embodied in the Indian earth and the Indian sky, about the horror lurking in the Marabar caves...'
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In this hard-hitting novel, first published in 1924, the murky personal relationship between an Englishwoman and an Indian doctor mirrors the troubled politics of colonialism. Adela Quested and her fellow British travelers, eager to experience the "real" India, develop a friendship with the urbane Dr. Aziz. While on a group outing, Adela and Dr. Aziz visit the Marabar caves together. As they emerge, Adela accuses the doctor of assaulting her. While Adela never actually claims she was raped, the decisions she makes ostracize her from both her countrymen and the natives, setting off a complex chain of events that forever changes the lives of all involved. This intense and moving story asks the listener serious questions about preconceptions regarding race, sex, religion, and truth. A political and philosophical masterpiece.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014144116X, 0143566385

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