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A Passage to India Paperback – 31 Oct 1985

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; Reprint edition (31 Oct. 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432589
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,090,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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?

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.

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, but 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 paints 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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

E. M. Forster is one of the great twentieth century authors. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Except for the Marabar Caves - and they are twenty miles off - the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Felix Valencia on 3 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
In a world far removed from the one in which Forster was writing, is there any place for a novel like A Passage to India other than as an idle curiosity of a bygone era? Written based on first hand experience of the British Raj, this open critique of colonialism caricatures the Anglo-Indian in his element, questioning the morality and justification of the British presence in the subcontinent.

A Passage to India is built upon its characters, who are the led through a fairly mundane plot, a jejune stage for the actors to perform upon. Yet through their actions, we discover this world of Empire, where Anglo-Indians hold themselves aloof from the population, where relationships are grounded on the basis of ruler and ruled. Forster challenges the British Raj as it was then. But he also poses questions relevant to our everyday lives: can the cultures of East and West ever truly understand one another? is it possible even for two individuals to truly understand one another? can anything good ever come from a relationship in which one party dominates the other? and what can we really understand about 'identity' through the prism of nationhood?

There is no doubt much in this book which can be analysed and overanalysed to the nauseating degree that only a literature class can provoke, and I can imagine that many who studied this novel in a classroom environment learned only to hate it. Where the simplicity of the plot provides only a thread for the characters to follow, the imagery of India's weather and terrain, her townships and cultural diversity, combine to provide symbolic tapestry lending itself to interpretation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brownbear101 on 7 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
A closely observed and tremendously atmospheric story of friendships, love and racism in British colonial India, exquisitely told - it is like reading lace.

Forster almost abandons plot and certainly abandons many of the conventions of novel writing in this, his last and some say greatest, novel. The central character is Aziz, a doctor of Indian birth working for the British. He meets a white woman - Mrs. Moore, newly arrived in India and it seems they fall in love. But Mrs. Moore's companion, Adele, accuses Aziz of assault, a charge that inflames tensions and personal relationships in the Chandrapore Township.

Mrs. Moore and Adele appear at first to be the centre of the book, but their characters fade away once Aziz is accused and instead it becomes clear that Forster is more interested in Aziz's friendship with Fielding - the British schoolmaster. He is the only white who believes that Aziz is innocent.

Forster beautifully captures the colours, sounds and spirit of India - he's obviously completely spellbound by India. His descriptions are more tender and subtle than Kipling's. Forster is just wonderful at capturing the cultural gulf between the two communities and between Hindus and Muslims. Tiny mannerisms, misunderstandings and different tastes are constantly explored and refined, often with a great deal of sly humour. India exists as a real person, there is a sense of history, beauty, spirituality and menace about the place, flies and snakes abound, cholera and disease is looked for, cars crash, carriages ride into hedges, boats capsize - danger is everywhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan Crawford on 2 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
I love Forster. His works are at the same time a gentle slice of contemporary life and a sharp exposition of the psychological world his characters inhabit.

A Passage to India is set in the rural landscape during a time of British occupation. This is a (not necessarily damning) examination and critique of colonialism and offers a very wide view of the issues it raises. There are no heroics here. Aziz is the downtrodden 'native' character, apallingly abused, to whom my sympathies attached, and yet the hatred that surrounds him turns him to hatred and propels down a vengeful path towards a kind of destruction. Only his long-standing friendship with Mr. Fielding can save him, but Mr. Fielding is English, and Aziz must reconcile himself with this and conquer his own hatred.

The novel is set in a world of echoes. Hatred begets hatred, and historical abuses resound forever until something changes. There is racism in both the English and 'native' Indians and everything continuously feeds into the same old cycles.

Forster intersperses the narrative with incisive and beautiful sentences that give the reader no alternative but to put the book down and think for a moment; for example (on rational arguments against irrational ideas): "Outside the arch there seemed always an arch, beyond the remotest echo a silence."

I have given this four stars (and not five) because, whilst important and thought provoking, the narrative (whilst getting rather hot on a couple of occassions) never really catches fire like in some of Forster's other novels and the world we are introduced to is so alien to our 21st century minds that I found myself wishing there were more detailed descriptions.
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