Without intimate knowledge of colonial India, I'm not sure how much reading this novel in full versus just reading it in parts has been of benefit...*shrugs* Forster, E. M. A Passage to India. 1924. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1989.Summary
: While on an excursion to India to meet her future husband, Miss Quested, along with Mrs. Moore, befriend the Indian Dr. Aziz. But when Miss Quested accuses Aziz of attempted rape during day trip to the Marabar Caves, all hell breaks loose as tension between the Anglos and Indians reaches a head. Mr. Fielding is the only Anglo to ally with Aziz during the crisis, but even they cannot maintain their alliance after Fielding marries Mrs. Moore's daughter in England. Comments
: In some ways, this novel is like Howard's End
with race, religion, and nationality thrown into the roiling mix of English manners, morals, and class. Yet, this novel, far better than anything Forster had attempted up until this point, captures his larger, recurring thesis of the complexities of connection; the "love triangle," as it were, between Dr. Aziz, Mr. Fielding, and Miss Quested in particular is quite impressive. (Obviously, this novel also captures Forster's homoerotic preoccupation with Indian boys...but that's a decidedly low observation.) If you don't understand the history of the period, many of the references will definitely be oblique, but needless to say Forster at least touches briefly on EVERYTHING. In any case, the "Mosque" and "Temple" chapters at times feel belabored and weighted with reams of revealing dialogue, but the "Caves" section is magnificent from a pure reader perspective--the story ignites as the deeply personal becomes intensely political. The ultimate thesis, however, seems to be that England and India will never be able to reconcile while England is still a colonial power...yet, on the other hand, India needs England for its civilizing influence. Hence, and inescapable paradox (though you may disagree with the rather ethnocentric latter half of it.)Notes
: hardcover, Harcourt Brace Modern Classic edition, 6th printingRating
- A rich and important work of fiction, particularly for the light of reason that it sheds on England's colonial ambitions.