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A Passage to India (1924)

by E. M. Forster

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,246115478 (3.76)530
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)
  1. 50
    Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (li33ieg)
    li33ieg: Same author, different setting, same core themes
  2. 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)
  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. 10
    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (Booksloth)
  6. 10
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (kiwiflowa)
  7. 21
    The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: These two novels bear close relationship in setting and circumstance.
  8. 10
    Natural Opium: Some Travelers' Tales by Diane Johnson (Anonymous user)
  9. 00
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (WildMaggie)
  10. 00
    Slowly Down the Ganges by Eric Newby (John_Vaughan)
  11. 00
    Hindoo Holiday: An Indian Journal by J. R. Ackerley (SomeGuyInVirginia)
  12. 33
    The Jewel in the Crown [1984 TV mini series] by Christopher Morahan (li33ieg)
    li33ieg: Similar period and themes
  13. 00
    Staying On by Paul Scott (KayCliff)
1920s (2)
Asia (10)
My TBR (22)

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» See also 530 mentions

English (108)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  All languages (116)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
I am no fan of Forster's style, but there are some gems to be found. (A philosopher at heart, it seems, Forster gets in way over his head, attempts to achieve something beyond language, but the result is clumsy and convoluted.) In a line that seems to encapsulate all of postcolonialism, Forster writes of the Indian women at the Bridge Party, "There was a curious uncertainty about their gestures, as if they sought for a new formula which neither East nor West could provide." These people haven't the benefit of a shared culture, or a shared religion, or even a shared language. Thus, any attempt at discourse will inevitably result in antagonism or reluctant acquiescence. This "new formula" that Forster writes about is what gives birth to Chinua Achebe's [b:Things Fall Apart - Classics in Context|840294|Things Fall Apart - Classics in Context (Heinemann African Writers Series)|Chinua Achebe|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1387739896s/840294.jpg|825843], Salman Rushdie's [b:Midnight's Children|879891|Midnight's Children|Salman Rushdie|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328032352s/879891.jpg|1024288], Alejo Carpentier's [b:El reino de este mundo|19277359|El reino de este mundo (Spanish Edition)|Alejo Carpentier|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386469838s/19277359.jpg|655490] -- essentially every major work of postcolonial literature. In each of them we find a discourse that emerges neither from the East nor the West, but from the locus of convergence. ( )
  TheaJean | Jun 2, 2020 |
The one word that kept coming to mind as I read this and even after I finished, is: "Remarkable".

Honestly, even if I had never been told that E. M. Forster is one of those legendary greats, as mysterious as he is beloved, I would point to his writing and say the same damn thing.

I'm genuinely awed.

Beyond simple, clear prose, I was enraptured by the humor and odd observations in the dialogues, the irony of Colonial England ladies wanting to see "The Real India", or the great way that every single character is painted without bias or slant. It's definitely a humanist novel. But beyond that, for a novel out of 1925 and dealing with the heart of English occupation of India and the enormous prejudices and idiocies on BOTH sides of the debate, I'm flabbergasted with the number of courageous turns and observations.

It's not just a condemnation of the occupation, but there's plenty of that. It's about ignorance across the board, about true friendship, understanding and, of course, rampant misunderstanding.

India is painted in a gloriously chaotic fashion and England as is stolid, claustrophobic self, but there's lots of humor and heart and simple plain erroneous humanity on both sides.

Don't mistake my ramblings as a description of a travel tale. Misfortunes abound and innocent people's lives are or are nearly ruined. Who's to blame? Everyone. Is it a comedy? Yes. Is it tragic? Yes. Is it thoughtful and emotional and wise? Yes.

What really stuck with me was the preoccupation with the idea of marriage. Not actual marriage, but the perception of it. So many faults and accidents and a weight of tradition conspired to make a real hash out of the MC's engagement. But what made this novel brilliant was the way it perfectly dovetailed and highlighted, or was reverse-highlighting the reality of the English Occupation.

Marriage and occupation are so VERY alike, are they not? And Forster is no slouch on any front. He's clever and wide-ranging with his portrayals of women. Each is as different as can be. The good, the bad, and everything in-between. :) Like anyone. But the important bit is WHEN this came out. It's no knee-jerk reaction to women's right's movements. It's just seeing them with clear eyes. Or seeing the people of India the same way, for that matter. :)

But again, don't let me persuade you that this is all the novel is about. These are just a few tastes to a VERY rich and remarkable novel. :) I think I could read it 4 or 5 times and still find new gems or facets inside it. :) ( )
1 vote bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Much has been written about Passage to India. Hundreds of writers had offered up their opinion on the classic. I won't bore you with the plot except to say India is at odds with British rule in every sense. It clouds judgement beyond reason, as most prejudices do. Indian-born Aziz is curious about the English and offers to take two British women to see the infamous caves of Marabar. My comment is Aziz acts oddly enough for me to question what exactly did happen in those isolated and mysterious caves?...which is exactly what Mr. Forster wanted me to do.
Every relationship in Passage to India suffers from the affects of rumor, doubt, ulterior motive, class, and racism. Friends become enemies and back again as stories and perceptions change and change again. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jan 31, 2020 |
Since starting this book, I've struggled to continue reading it. I repeatedly find myself picking it up, reading a few pages, not liking it, then putting it away and start another book.

Finally, after several attempts, I have now decided not to wrestle any longer with this book. It is not the right book at this time for me.
  BoekenTrol71 | Dec 22, 2019 |
A first class study of Colonial India and its effect on the rulers. The Indians are well drawn, the British as well, and the complexities of the situation are wonderfully explored. I am surprized so few Library Thingers have read it! ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 7, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (62 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Forster, E. M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burra, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dastor, SamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, FrederickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diaz, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magadini, ChristopherIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mishra, PankajIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Motti, AdrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pigott-Smith, TimReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanders, Scott RussellAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stallybrass, OliverEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilby, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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)
"We must exclude someone from our gathering, or we shall be left with nothing."
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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...'
Jacques Marchais original library book
Haiku summary
Grottes de Marabar/Mrs Moore à la mosquée/et l'Inde des Anglais/(tiercelin)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014144116X, 0143566385

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