Penguin Classics Passage To India Paperback – Aug 30 2005
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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.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.
"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."
"Why, the kindest thing one can do to a native is to let him die," said Mrs. Callendar.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.
"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."
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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up-By E.M. Forster. Narrated by Flo Gibson.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
A Passage to India is E.M. Forster's most famous novel and for good reason. The book says a great deal about British attitudes toward the Indian culture and people during the 1920's. Forster portrays a love-hate relationship among key players. The difference in cultures and lack of understanding is superbly drawn, as is the barely concealed disdain between the British and locals. You can almost feel the simmering animosity threatening to erupt into a full explosion.
The book is fairly long at 421 pages, yet I wished I'd known more about how secondary characters dealt with the aftermath of the trial. Forster barely mentions some of the characters afterward, which is a shame. Still, this is my favorite of his collection, and well worth reading.
Now I can hardly wait to read another. I absolutely loved this book, without quite knowing why it was so magical. I do know that I found the first chapter absolutely perfect, as it allows the reader to go into a "descriptive section" daze, and then jerks are attention suddenly back to the Marabar caves. And with the exception of one or two patches that dragged a little but were soon over, I found the rest of the book equally magnetic.
I enjoyed Fortster's deftness in portraying all the characters, not so much as individuals, but in terms of how they felt about each other. In particular I loved the relationship between Fielding and Aziz, while understanding completely the dislike each had for aspects of the others character.
The ending is marvelous. So often books that hold your interest like this just peter out, but it's refreshing to find an author like Forster who understands that what makes for an ideal conclusion is to give the readers a taste of what they want, and then hold back the last little bit.
This is the first Forster book that I've read completely. I have seen all the movie adaptations of his books (except A Pssage To India) and have enjoyed them thoroughly. But an attempt at reading A Room With A View wasn't at all successful (stopped twice at chapter 3) and I gave up (perhaps a little too hastily) reading any of the books themselves. Recently however, I have become intrigued with Indian authors and books about India and suddenly, A Passage to India popped into my mind and I picked up a copy. Forster's prose reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald's in its
nuanced simplicity although the former can at times become somewhat abstract. Forster conveys the complexity of colonial India but the read was spectacularly easy, aided by many humorous points. Halfway through the book, I was so impressed by the book and wondered if it had made it onto the Modern Library's best 100 works of fiction in the 20th century. And it did.
The two naive Englishwomen who have booked passage to India should have read a manual on social survival skills; it simply will not Do to upset the proven status quo--however it seems tipped in the favor of Western power. The herd instinct must prevail or all is lost; woe to those Anglos who defy experience and tradition in dealing with treacherous, scheming, unreliable or childlike natives. Whom to trust and whom to defend--whom to choose as a loyal ally, a friend or even a life's partner? How can one make these critical decisions in an atmosphere of mutual suspicion,
cultural snobbery and religious extremism?
The normally straightforward British lifestyle is suddenly complicated in a myriad ways as soon as one is transported to the steaming sub- continent.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
got this as a gift for a friend who'd been wanting to read it for years. She was thrilled to receive it. no complaints.Published 12 months ago by Inkysmiles
Dated, but with the Forster stamp of classic excellence. A slow read, good for the literary nourishment I'm needy of in my dotage. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Thomas Mackan
First published in 1924, over the vast sweeping landscape of India under British rule A Passage to India examines the cultural differences between the Indians and the English. Read morePublished on Nov. 1 2007 by Teddy
It's a pleasure to hear E.M. Forster's A Passage To India brought to life under the studied British accent of Sam Dastor: it offers a fine performance which brings to life the... Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2003 by Midwest Book Review
I think this book was great. It shows the way life was in India during the British control. It was good. It couldnt of been more correctly writen. Read morePublished on March 11 2002 by Devil Rose
E.M. Forster is a masterful writer. This book is my favourite of his novels, although all of them are excellent. Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2002 by Claus Hetting
This is an accomplished novel. Beautifully written and interesting, it portrays a very believable world of people who quite probably no longer exist. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2002 by asphlex