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E.M. Forster A Passage to India

ISBN 13: 9780141441160

A Passage to India

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Exploring issues of colonialism, faith and the limits of comprehension, E.M. Forster's A Passage to India is edited by Oliver Stallybrass, with an introduction by Pankaj Mishra.

When Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced 'Anglo-Indian' community. Determined to escape the parochial English enclave and explore the 'real India', they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim. But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects. A masterly portrait of a society in the grip of imperialism, A Passage to India compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world.

In his introduction, Pankaj Mishra outlines Forster's complex engagement with Indian society and culture. This edition reproduces the Abinger text and notes, and also includes four of Forster's essays on India, a chronology and further reading.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) was a noted English author and critic and a member of the Bloomsbury group. His first novel, Where Angels Fear To Tread appeared in 1905. The Longest Journey appeared in 1907, followed by A Room With A View (1908), based partly on the material from extended holidays in Italy with his mother. Howards End (1910) was a story that centred on an English country house and dealt with the clash between two families, one interested in art and literature, the other only in business. Maurice was revised several times during his life, and finally published posthumously in 1971.

If you enjoyed A Passage to India, you might like Rudyard Kipling's Kim, also available in Penguin Classics.

'His great book ... masterly in its presence and its lucidity'
Anita Desai

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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?

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

Review:

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 --By Felix Valencia on 3 Nov. 2012

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. --By Dan Crawford on 2 Aug. 2012

The language of this work is by far the best I've come across. Amazing! E M Forster is undoubtedly one of the most eloquent writers. The character build-up is slow, steady and realistic. Gives a very close picture of the Indian society that existed during the British Raj and remnants of which can still be found in us Indians - not only our buildings, out attitude, our tastes and our demeanor in general --Saad Hashmi Dec 30, 2014

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780156711425: A Passage to India

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ISBN 10: 0156711427 ISBN 13: 9780156711425
Publisher: Mariner Books, 1965
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The Ea..., 1992
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9781857150292: A Passage To India (Everyman's Library Classics)

Everyman, 1991
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9781950330300: A Passage to India

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9780241214992: A Passage to India: Penguin Essentials

Penguin, 2015
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