A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
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E. M. Forster's 1924 masterpiece, A Passage to India, is a novel that tackles the thorny notions of preconceptions and misconceptions through characters' desire to overcome the barrier that divides East and West in colonial India. Here we see the limits of liberal tolerance, good intentions, and good will as we try to sort through the common problems that exist between two very different cultures. But Forster's India is a country where the English and Indians stare at each other across a cultural divide and a history of imbalanced power relations, mutual suspicion, and ill will. A fresh reader must wonder whether connection is possible at all.

A Passage to India begins simply enough: with people genuinely desiring to connect and to overcome the stereotypes and biases that have divided the two cultures. Mrs. Moore accompanies her future daughter-in-law, Adela Quested, to India where both are to meet Mrs. Moore's son Ronny, the City Magistrate. From the outset, Adela makes it clear that she wishes to see the "real India" and Mrs. Moore soon befriends and Indian doctor named Aziz. Cyril Fielding, an Englishman and the principal of a local government college, soon becomes acquainted with everyone and it is his tenuous friendship with the Indian Dr. Aziz that really constitutes the backbone of this novel.

While it is true that the primary characters take great pains to accept and embrace difference, their misunderstanding, fear and ignorance made that connection far more difficult than they expected. Getting to know the "real" India proves to be a daunting and challenging task. The bulk of this perhaps falls to Dr. Aziz, who soon learns that the indignities of life under British rule and the insults--unintentional and intentional--of his English acquaintances make him suspect that although genuine friendship may be desired, the two cultures are not yet ready.


E. M. Forster published his first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread, in 1905, which was quickly followed in 1907 by The Longest Journey and then in 1908 with A Room with a View. However, Forster's major breakthrough came in 1910 with the book Howard's End, which is often still regarded as his greatest work. Forster was associated with the Bloomsbury Group: a collective of intellectuals and peers, among them Virginia Woolf, Benjamin Britten, Roger Fry, and John Maynard Keynes. The 1924 publication of A Passage to India firmly cemented Forster in the literary firmament as one of the most important writers of the twentieth century with this being one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. It was, however, the last novel Forster ever completed.

Forster seems to have harbored a growing disillusionment with traditional liberalism and instead turned his attention to teaching and criticism, beginning with the Clark Lectures he delivered at Cambridge in 1927, which were gathered into a much-admired collection of essays published as Aspects of the Novel. In 1946, Forster accepted a fellowship at Cambridge where he remained until his death in 1970.


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About E.M. Forster

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Edward Morgan Forster was born on January 1, 1879, in London, England. He never knew his father, who died when Forster was an infant. Forster graduated from King's College, Cambridge, with B.A. degrees in classics (1900) and history (1901), as well as an M.A. (1910). In the mid-1940s he returned to Cambridge as a professor, living quietly there until his death in 1970. Forster was named to the Order of Companions of Honor to the Queen in 1953. Forster's writing was extensively influenced by the traveling he did in the earlier part of his life. After graduating from Cambridge, he lived in both Greece and Italy, and used the latter as the setting for the novels Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and A Room with a View (1908). The Longest Journey was published in 1907. Howard's End was modeled on the house he lived in with his mother during his childhood. During World War I, he worked as a Red Cross Volunteer in Alexandria, aiding in the search for missing soldiers; he later wrote about these experiences in the nonfiction works Alexandria: A History and Guide and Pharos and Pharillon. His two journeys to India, in 1912 and 1922, resulted in A Passage to India (1924), which many consider to be Forster's best work; this title earned the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Forster wrote only six novels, all prior to 1925 (although Maurice was not published until 1971, a year after Forster's death, probably because of its homosexual theme). For much of the rest of his life, he wrote literary criticism (Aspects of the Novel) and nonfiction, including biographies (Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson), histories, political pieces, and radio broadcasts. Howard's End, A Room with a View, and A Passage to India have all been made into successful films.
Published January 9, 2014 by RosettaBooks. 370 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance, Education & Reference, History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, War, Travel, Erotica. Fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for A Passage to India


Forster wrote a book to explore the tense relationships between the two cultures inhabiting India, but he did it without taking the time to really explore India.

Feb 13 2013 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...

AV Club

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David Lean's final film may lack the majesty of Lawrence Of Arabia or Doctor Zhivago, but not the luxuriant detail.

Jun 05 2016 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...

Los Angeles Times

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Udaweera, unlike Aziz, is allowed to have real sensual feelings, although nothing happens between the manager and Mrs. Horniman, just as nothing happens between Aziz and Adela: as soon as Udaweera realizes the Hornimans are not in fact married he imagines himself touching the Western woman, invit...

May 04 1993 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

The 1984 epic, starring Judy Davis and Peggy Ashcroft, was nominated for 11 Academy Awards (it won 2) and was the last film directed by Lean (whose other credits include Oliver Twist, Summertime, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago).

May 26 2008 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...


A Passage to India was the director’s first film in 14 years, and the script, which was written by Lean in New Delhi, took more than 18 months to finish.

Apr 24 2008 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...

Monsters and Critics

Set in 1928, this film portrays an indelibly sardonic picture of British life in territorial India.

Apr 16 2008 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...

Lit Lovers

But truth in Forster's world is neither one thing nor the other.Religion is a powerful theme throughout the novel, especially the Hindu belief in the "unity of all things," a notion that offers, to Indians and British alike, potential for redemption.

Jan 14 2015 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...

The New York Review of Books

Noel Annan’s admirable review of A Passage to India [NYR, January 17] devotes some space to an account of the meeting between Mr. David Lean, who was to direct the film, and certain fellows of King’s College, Cambridge, which owns Forster’s copyrights.

Feb 14 1985 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...

Spirituality & Practice

While Ronny and the other English bureaucrats feel quite at ease sequestered in their enclaves, which are off-limits to Indians, Mrs. Moore and Adela feel deprived by their isolation.

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... While initially it comes off as English Vs Indian people, as you read through the
book you realise Forster really was looking into human ...

Apr 23 2012 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...

Socialist Review

Marlow is moved by Kurtz's eloquent report for the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs, that "by the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded" - only to come across the scrawled comment at the end, "Exterminate all the brutes!"

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Project MUSE

There are certainly brief moments when he makes significant contributions to Forster studies: an insightful contrastive analysis of Walter Benjamin's "Unpacking My Library" and Forster's "In My Library," an exceptional discussion of "the textual practice of everyday life" to illuminate Forster's ...

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Artswrap - A Passage to India - EM Forster Search this site: Log In / Register ...

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Responding to Adela Quested (Fenella Woolgar) and her intended mother-in-law, Mrs. Moore (Susan Tracy), because they're intent on meeting Indians rather than observing them from exclusive club verandas, Aziz invites the ladies on an excursion to the area's sole tourist attraction, the mysterious ...

Nov 04 2004 | Read Full Review of A Passage to India (RosettaBo...

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Anastasia Lebedev 13 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 2 out of 5

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Anastasia Lebedev 5 Sep 2013

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