A Passage to India

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Religion, multi-ethnicity, colonialism, imperialism, the dogged belief in the superiority of the rulers over the ruled and most specifically how very difficult it is to communicate over cultural barriers. These are the topics we look at in this book. And friendship. How does it begin? How is it kept alive? Aziz says one is an Oriental if when meeting a stranger you know if he is or is not a friend. Another character says to Dr. There is no pain, but there is cruelty. Am I confusing? Does this interest you? Well read the book. In both books readers see how well Forster draws the feel of a place, of an era and of the people.

Wherever the scene is set you see, feel, hear and sense a distinguishable tone, mood or ambience. I did feel this in both books. Having experienced it you will not forget it. Here follow a few very short quotes: -Until his heart was involved he heard nothing. For me the last line is utterly beautiful.

I should have jotted down more of the beautiful lines, not just the ones that got me thinking. I do not believe this book will satisfy everyone. It is not for those who are looking for action. It is instead the kind of book you put down and then go on thinking about. Who the characters are can best be judged on completion of the book, when you have properly seen and thought carefully about all that has occurred.

I loved how diverse cultures are shown, primarily Hindu and Muslim and British expatriates. In the beginning I had trouble with the speed and pronunciation of foreign names. The voice he uses for women could certainly be improved, particularly the younger ones. They are all too squeaky and shrill. He dramatizes too much for my liking. When he just plain reads what is happening without added dramatics, it is good.

I liked the book a lot. I really appreciate the writing, how India is drawn and how the book makes you think. View all 18 comments. Shelves: india , epic-snooze-fest , bookcrossing-books , books. Written in this so called literary classic and book is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the slow move towards Independence. This book has been showered with awards - I gave my copy of a good shake just to see if any of the awards had got stuck between the pages - although personally the only award I would be inclined to hand out for E.

M Forster's most famous novel would be the highly coveted shovelmonkey1 pillow award for producing an epic snooze fest. I read this book w Written in this so called literary classic and book is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the slow move towards Independence.

I read this book while I was commuting back and forward to office HQ and even the act of opening the pages of this beautifully covered Penguin volume was enough to send my eyeballs rolling to the back of my skull. I suspect on the whole that perhaps I am being a tad harsh, and maybe this can be attributed to the fact that I have read too many novels detailing the colonial dumb-wittedness of the British abroad, particularly swooning laydees.

Poor Dr Aziz, despite running around attending to the whims and mores of the ex-pat populace and doing everything with the very best of intentions ends up in a spot of bother after Adela Quested unjustly accuses him of trying to "cop a feel" while they're out on a day trip to the Malabar caves. Aziz had previously mused on the premise of whether Indian gentlemen might ever truly manage to be friends with an Englishman and this episode surely gives him a fairly definite answer. As the trial unfolds Adela is forced to confront the fact that everything which happened the in the caves was a product of her delicate and overwrought laydee-mind, thus presumably giving the men in the courtroom further excuse to argue, over brandy and cigars, that the colonies are no place for the "wimmin folk".

I can see the point of this book, the message it was trying to convey and I can even understand why it is regarded to be literary significance but even the memory of reading it make me prone to ZZZZZz zzzz. View all 16 comments. This tediously long page story set in a British ruled India begins when an "old" twice married Mrs. Moore brings a plain freckled-faced Adela Quested on a visit to meet her son Ronny Heaslop, the City Magistrate, with hopes of marriage. Moore soon befriends a local Indian and Surgeon, Dr.

Aziz view spoiler [ who is ultimately accused of attacking Adela while touring the Marabar Caves hide spoiler ] causing a political uproar. View all 6 comments. Feb 06, Megan Baxter rated it really liked it. Can there ever be friendship between the colonizer and colonized? Individuals from each group? Can that trust last?

Can it flourish? What happens when events put it under stress? Forster has no easy answers in this book, as he dissects British colonial rule in India, and its impact on Indians and the British who have come there expressly to rule over India. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to th Can there ever be friendship between the colonizer and colonized? You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook Jul 27, Gabrielle rated it really liked it Shelves: own-a-copy , classics , read-in , uk , cultural-shock , reviewed , movie-fodder.

The more I explore E. Racial tensions and prejudices turn a misunderstanding into quite a drama. The por The more I explore E. The Indians in turn view the English as untrustworthy — except of course for those who seek to emulate them in every way. These combined attitudes reinforce many levels of animosity between races, religions and castes. Loyalty and justice are not easily defined for those living in this strange setting, and this further muddles the water.

After just a few pages, I knew that Aziz would get himself in trouble: he is just too candid and honest to play the hypocritical social game required to stay on the good side of the British. No one directly accuses him of anything, but people assume right off the bat that he has done something wrong, that like all members of his race, he is deviant and has a natural inclination towards criminal activities.

A strange series of event makes him look guiltier and brings to the surface a lot of anger and resentment that proper social behavior had simply concealed under the surface. And the end result of that is the amplification of the negative prejudices both sides have towards each other. It is so easy to say — out of innocent ignorance — something that will be interpreted as appalling to the other side, but if there is no sensible and open dialogue, there is no resolution. Forster went to India twice, and wrote this book soon after returning to England. Obviously, the experience had not been a positive one, and the racist attitudes of his compatriots disgusted him.

But the novel is not didactic: the complexity of the situation is described in great details, to really convey to the reader that no easy solution can reconcile the politics of colonialism and personal relationship between diverse groups. Tensions are unavoidable, as are disagreement, but without openness and compassion, the conflict will remain irreconcilable. The cultural differences in this book feel impossible to overcome because of power dynamics, but it is interesting to note that the different groups of Indians are just as virulent in their opposition to each other as the British are towards them.

I was worried at first that this would be a Rousseauist story about noble savages and big bad white dudes, but Forster does not idealize the Indians and demonize the British; he simply shows that all humans are flawed despite their best intentions. By simply emulating senior officers, Mr. Some things are very hard to overcome, and institutionalized hatred is certainly one of them.

His prose is beautiful and takes you right to this exotic setting that you discover along with Miss Quested and Mrs. You will turn the last page and think about it for a long time. In other words, this is a wonderful book that touched me less personally than Mr. In some ways it's hard to believe that this was published in , given the prescience Forster demonstrates in relation to the future of the British Raj. Towards the end of the novel, one of the central characters, Dr Aziz, effectively predicts that Indians will throw out the British when England is is involved in another war in Europe and articulates - albeit not in so many words - the need for Indians to identify as Indians rather than as members of their individual religious communities in o In some ways it's hard to believe that this was published in , given the prescience Forster demonstrates in relation to the future of the British Raj.

Towards the end of the novel, one of the central characters, Dr Aziz, effectively predicts that Indians will throw out the British when England is is involved in another war in Europe and articulates - albeit not in so many words - the need for Indians to identify as Indians rather than as members of their individual religious communities in order for that happen. This is a story of the distrust and misunderstanding inherent in the relationship between colonisers and the colonised and poses the question of whether cultural differences can be overcome to find real friendship and understanding.

It centres on the consequences of an incident in which a young English woman, Adela Quested, accuses the Indian Dr Aziz of assaulting her during an excursion to the Marabar Caves. Forster's portrayal of the British colonial rulers is trenchantly critical. He exposes their hypocrisy, their fundamental fear of Indians and their desperation to retain control. While Forster's portrayal of Indian characters is largely - although not completely - sympathetic, he was a still a man of his time and there are some aspects of his portrayal of Indian characters which a contemporary reader is likely to find patronising.

Forster evokes a sense of time and place in beautiful prose and he provides plenty of food for thought. That said, there were times when the narrative seemed to meander and I wasn't always sure where Forster was going with it. This is one of those books I'm glad I listened to rather than read, because it allowed me to complete productive tasks while listening to those few parts of the novel which I might otherwise have skimmed.

I knew that Sam Dastor's voices for both the English and the Indian characters would be excellent, having listened to his narration of Kipling's Kim. However, the downside of listening to Dastor is that he does not do female voices well. This wasn't an issue with Kim , because it contains no female characters to speak of, but Miss Quested is a central character in this novel and Dastor's voice for her is simply awful. I enjoyed listening much more when Miss Quested wasn't around. This one I like a little less.

But I'm very glad that I finally tackled it and I don't know why it took me so long to do so. View all 17 comments.

"A Passage to India" Review

Apr 03, Barbara rated it liked it. This book is a classic, but its motifs of culture clash and racialism strike an unfortunate chord in current times. Set in a time when the British controlled India, the book has several sub-themes. One is the condescending attitude and behavior of the Brits toward the Indian people and the consequent mistrust and dislike the Indians f This book is a classic, but its motifs of culture clash and racialism strike an unfortunate chord in current times.

One is the condescending attitude and behavior of the Brits toward the Indian people and the consequent mistrust and dislike the Indians felt toward the Brits. Another is the vast cultural divide that made friendship almost impossible between the Indians and Brits at that time. My problem with the book is that many of the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that E. Forster attributed to the Indian people don't ring true to me.

It feels like the author's personal attitudes about India were foisted onto the native characters Nevertheless, it's an interesting story, lyrically told, and gives little glimpses into the Hindu and Muslim customs of old India. View all 4 comments. Sep 12, Madeline rated it really liked it Shelves: the-list. By herself she can do little - only feeble outbursts of flowers.

But when the sky chooses, glory can rain into the Chandrapore bazaars or a benediction pass from horizon to horizon. The sky can do this because it is so strong and so enormous. Strength comes from the sun, infused in it daily; size from the prostrate earth. No mountains infringe on the curve. League after league the earth lies flat, "The sky settles everything - not only climates and seasons but when the earth shall be beautiful.

League after league the earth lies flat, heaves a little, is flat again. Only in the south, where a group of fists and fingers are thrust up through the soil, is the endless expanse interrupted. These fists and fingers are the Marabar Hills, containing the extraordinary caves. But that's only the barest plot description.

The book is an exploration of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed, human imperfections and mistakes, and whether friendship can ever exist between the colonizer and the colonized. It's also a thoughtful and powerful critique of the British presence in India, which Forster shows us by shrinking the conflict to a handful of people.

Our main characters are Dr. Aziz, a native Muslim; Mr. Fielding, a British teacher who has not yet become one of the "Anglo-Indians"; and Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested, fresh off the boat from England. Miss Quested is in India to marry Mrs. Moore's son, and both women express an interest in seeing "the real India. Moore befriends Dr. Aziz when she meets him in a mosque, and this leads to a friendship between her, Aziz, Miss Quested, and Fielding.

After the women express an interest in seeing the Marabar caves, Dr. Aziz offers to be their guide. The trip doesn't occur until halfway through the book, but the caves are a constant presence in the story, always looming somewhat menacingly in the background While Aziz is at the caves with the women, an incident occurs, and due to a misunderstanding, Aziz finds himself accused by Miss Quested.

An unfortunate series of events makes him seem guiltier than he is, and he is arrested. Miss Quested's accusation, and the sides the characters take in the ensuing trial, bring long-standing resentments and issues bubbling to the surface, and no one gets out unscathed. The latter didn't really grab me until about a hundred pages in, but this had me enthralled from the beginning. I loved Forster's beautiful descriptions of India, his look into people's minds, and the fact that a British author could write such a blistering portrayal of colonization.

Better yet, he doesn't simply villify the English and idealize the Indians - everyone is flawed here, but no one is outwardly evil. Characters are all well-intentioned, but not always sympathetic. And once Aziz is arrested, Forster's description of the panic that grips the British is evocative and sadly familiar to 21st-century readers: "They had started speaking of 'women and children' - that phrase that exempts the male from sanity when it has been repeated a few times. Each felt that all he loved best in the world was at stake, demanded revenge, and was filled with a not-unpleasing glow, in which the chilly and half-known features of Miss Quested vanished, and were replaced by all that is sweetest and warmest in the private life.

View all 8 comments. The mind boggles at the immensity and confusion of India, at the distant mountains, at the strange religions, at the endless tracts of land blending with the gray and threatening sky. This is a landscape of dreams and terrors. It is unreal, but not romantic - a land of deceit, irrationality, vague but persistent danger. Tempted here by mirages, the British have built their colony on a foundation of sand and it must soon crumble. But behind these fragments of visions, shimmering in the background as if through a hazy gauze at a glimpse at the true, permanent world, lie the Marabar Caves.

They are present, but shadowy, just out of reach. What is inside those caves? The answer? The soul of India itself? Or something else? Why do the caves remain in the mind like an echo, as they do to poor Adela? I am haunted by the Marabar Caves, as Adela was haunted by them, as Mrs. Moore was haunted by them. They expand in my imagination, they beckon and seem to explain, and yet I cannot enter. The cavern dims and darkens as it curves away into the mountain, beyond my ken.

The Marabar Caves are the key to the meaning of this novel, just as their counterpart in our collective unconscious is the key to understanding human existence, but that key, like the rest of India, is beyond my understanding. What Forster has achieved here is a brilliant evocation of India as conjured by the hopes and fears of the British imagination. It is one of the most striking environments I have ever encountered in a novel. It seems to embody everything that Britain opposes - emotion, chaos, incomprehensibility - in contrast to Britain's self-perception of orderliness, control, reason, and duty.

It is a canvas on which the English mind can display its deepest anxieties. Forster captures those anxieties with uncommon force. And, to play on that wondrous stage, Forster has supplied an equally stellar cast of characters, to enact the greater drama of the British Raj's influence on the people of both England and India.

A Passage to India

Aziz is amiable and proud, and deeply invested in ingratiating himself to his British masters, but he is also self-conscious and anxious. He reaches heights of happiness and expectation and then plunges into anger and resentment, all within a matter of moments, a product of having assimilated the slave mentality, which affects his every move and thought. Fielding is the Principal of a British school in India, benevolent, rational, without family ties, and desirous to befriend Aziz to separate himself from what he perceives to be the racism and ignorance of his fellow countrymen.

He wants to prove he can be friends with an Indian. Aziz wants to prove he can be friends with a Brit. The relationship they form is remarkable for its subtlety and its truthfulness, and remains surprising right to the end of the novel. Something else happened. But what? And Ronny, her fiancee, is the casually pompous British Magistrate of the city of Chandrapore who would like nothing better than to have all these Indians whipped.

I loved Mrs. Her transformation after the caves is devastating. And I felt for Adela. On the stand, at the trial, she does a selfless and honourable thing, and it made me so glad. Aziz's transformation after the trial is unspeakably sad, but absolutely realistic. I despised Ronny, but ultimately pitied him, for how can he be expected to escape the social and political forces that forged him? These people were real to me. They are fascinating, believable, unforgettable. The prose of this novel is scintillating.

It is intensely ironic in tone, and satirical, but it also has a strangely suggestive side, enigmatic, mysterious, hinting at things unsaid that stick into the mind like an icicle, or opening vistas of possibility one can only see as through a haze. It weaves in and out of these modes with an astounding level of finesse and control, from satirical to funny to poetic and back again, insinuating secrets, dancing impishly, but never allowing us to forget, not for long, the mystery at the center of all things, the Marabar Caves. The question is not merely, what happened in those caves?

But rather, what are the caves? And what is India? And what is human existence? Is there hope, and meaning, and purpose? Is there a purpose to the British Empire? Is there a purpose to human connection? Is there a purpose to empathy and understanding? Or is it all merely an endless echo in a dark cave, BOUM? All these questions, it seems to me, are the same question, the question that drives the engine of this novel, and indeed all examinations of why greater powers have always seen fit to oppress, manipulate, and exploit the weaker.

And mysterious. That was the biggest surprise - the uncanny, amazing feeling running through the entire text that there are deeper forces at work, that there are answers to the human conundrum just out of our line of sight, just around the bend of the cave. Highly recommended. View all 10 comments. Jul 29, Veronique rated it really liked it Shelves: favourites-5and , The main plot had remained in my memory but not much else.

A Passage To India

As you expect, most of the English b 4. As you expect, most of the English behave in the most atrocious manner, full of conceit, bigotry, racism, and indeed ignorance. That in itself is not groundbreaking. No, the shock came from the author portraying both sides in his narration, giving voice to the natives too, and thus challenging the very essence of colonialism. Sounds familiar? The other thing that I noticed from my early 21st century viewpoint is the role of women, some behaving even worse than their spouses, others trying to do the right thing, all used as pawns.

I do wonder what made Forster write this and if his own circumstances especially his personal ones making him feel outside the social norm gave him the impetus to analyse further. The novel doesn't really give a 'solution' but, by bringing these issues to the fore, make us more aware of them and hopefully teach us too. View all 3 comments. Jun 27, Kinga rated it really liked it Shelves: pub Adela Quested who arrives in colonial India with the best and purest intentions ends up causing irreparable damage to the reputation of an Indian doctor Dr Aziz, and in consequence ruins his friendship with Cyril Fielding, an English teacher.

We may hate one another, but we hate you most.


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If I don't make you go, Ahmed will, Karim will, if it's fifty-five hundred years we shall get rid of you, yes, we shall drive every blasted Englishman into the sea, and then "—he rode against him furiously— "and then," he concluded, half kissing him, "you and I shall be friends. The same way she thought she could survive Indian heat but in the end it killed her.

Those stereotypes are never buried deep and can be excavated very quickly if need be. Even these two words could be interpreted in different ways. Are the temples ineffective as a place of worship, because they have been of no help against the invasion of the British, or are they ineffective as landmarks from the British tourist-visitor point of view. He seems to truly believe it. Was conformism the true villain of this novel?

A Passage to India

Race, imperialism, and all of it with the undertones of repressed sexuality, especially in the fantastic scene in the caves that really should make anyone hot and bothered and filled with a mixture of fear and excitement — if they know how to read all the symbols, that is. But now, months later, I think I do. Sep 16, Bradley rated it it was amazing Shelves: traditional-fiction , shelf. 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.

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 The one word that kept coming to mind as I read this and even after I finished, is: "Remarkable".

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 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.

E M Forster: A Passage to India

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? Is it a comedy? Is it tragic? Is it thoughtful and emotional and wise? 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. Mar 20, Sony Pictures Entertainment. Judy Davis as Adela Quested. Victor Banerjee as Dr. Peggy Ashcroft as Mrs. Alec Guinness as Godbole. James Fox as Richard Fielding. Nigel Havers as Ronny Healsop. Richard Wilson as Turton.

Antonia Pemberton as Mrs. Michael Culver as McBryde.

Aziz doesn't want to see Fielding in Mau because

Art Malik as Mahmoud Ali. Saeed Jaffrey as Hamidullah. Clive Swift as Maj. Ann Firbank as Mrs.

Roshan Seth as Amritrao. Sandra Hotz as Stella. Rashid Karapiet as Mr.

Full text of "A Passage to India"

Khan as Dr. Pana Lal. Sally Kinghorn as Ingenue. Krishnamurthy as Hassan. Phyllis Bose as Mrs. Dina Pathak as Begum Hamidullah. Ishaq Bux as Selim. Moti Makan as Guide. Paul Anil as Clerk of the Court. Adam Blackwood as Mr. Mellan Mitchell as Indian Businessman. Edward Fox. Ashok Mandanna as Anthony. Mohammed Ashiq as Haq. Nov 6, Full Review…. Jun 24, Full Review…. Jun 15, Full Review…. Apr 17, Rating: 3. Nov 6, Rating: 3. View All Critic Reviews Jan 31, Lean's final film is an epic masterpiece presents a classic take on incidents of racism within a colonial context but does so in a vibrant manner.

John B Super Reviewer. Nov 07, Yes it lacks the near perfection of David Lean's earlier epics, but that shouldn't deter anyone from watching it. A good not great film from Lean is still much better that a lot of other stuff out there. Its a well crafted adaptation of E. Foster's novel that is full of small moments of brilliance, mostly in relation to the way Lean uses stillness and silence to capture the beauty of India.

Alec B Super Reviewer. May 18, Christian C Super Reviewer. Jun 03, Man, if you there was an epic drama to be made, then David Lean seemed to be the go-to guy for the longest time, especially if your epic was about some kind of multicultural adventure that took place in the s.

He's escorted Lawrence to Arabia, watched Dr. Zhivago run through a revolutionary Russia and is now, for this, his final picture, searching for a passage to India. I don't know about y'all, but maybe he wasn't so much crazy about the idea of these epics, as much as he was into traveling to all kinds of exotic locations, and if that's the case, then I must say that boy had a pretty terrible taste in vacation spots. Such friendships cannot last in the heat of the Indian sun nor under the auspices of the British Empire. Forster ushers us into the minds of the characters with his stream-of-consciousness style.

We begin to understand the missed meanings, the failure to connect. Ultimately, we begin to see how these characters are kept apart. A Passage to India is a marvelously written, marvelously sad novel. The novel emotively and naturally recreates the Raj in India and offers insight into how the Empire was run. Ultimately, though, it's a tale of powerlessness and alienation.

Even friendship and the attempt to connect fails. Share Flipboard Email. Updated February 27, Continue Reading.