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A Passage to India

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  72,776 ratings  ·  3,311 reviews
Set in British India in the 1920s, this book looks at racial conflict. The characters struggle to overcome their own differences and prejudices, but when the Indian Dr Aziz is tried for the alleged assault of Adela Quested even the strongest inter-racial friendships come under pressure.
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published 1991 by Everyman's Library (first published 1924)
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Sravya Personally,I feel like her engagement with Ronny created a sort of disillusion for her. Which in turn, gave her an overwhelming feeling and constraine…morePersonally,I feel like her engagement with Ronny created a sort of disillusion for her. Which in turn, gave her an overwhelming feeling and constrained her. India is very humid, and so that adds to the pressure and feeling of being closed in, almost claustrophobic in a way. All the pressure just sort of pushed on her and created this sort of closeness/intimacy that she did not wish to have. So I think that feeling is what brought on the supposed "insult", not an actual physical male trying to mess with her. But this is just my viewpoint :]
I would really like to know what actually did happen in that cave though, from the author's perspective in writing the story. Or maybe he doesn't know himself. It could just be a "left to the imagination" thing.(less)
Alex I think these are good things about the book:
1. Characters are inconsistent like real people: they have conflicting motivations and emotions; their ac…more
I think these are good things about the book:
1. Characters are inconsistent like real people: they have conflicting motivations and emotions; their actions aren't always consistent or easily explicable.
2. There is muddle everywhere. What really happened? The explanations don't always match the events; the events themselves aren't always 'facts' - i.e. what happened depends on your point of view. People jump to the wrong conclusion, and act on prejudice and 'gut' rather than any rational working-out of what's best. Bit like life.
3. Beautifully and subtly written, and on each reading something new comes to the fore.(less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Adventures do occur, but not punctually. Life rarely gives us what we want at the moment we consider appropriate.”

 photo IMG_0778_zps7691e8b1.jpg
Illustrations from the Folio Edition by Ian Ribbons.

Adela Quested and Mrs. Moore have journeyed to India with the intention of arranging a marriage between Adela and Mrs. Moore’s son Ronny Heaslop. He is the British magistrate of the city of Chandrapore. He is imperial, much more so than when Adela knew him in England.

”India had developed sides of his character that she had nev
Make no mistake. This, to me, will always be Forster's magnum opus even though I am yet to even acquaint myself with the synopses of either Howards End or Maurice. Maybe it is the handicap of my Indian sentimentality that I cannot remedy on whim to fine-tune my capacity for objective assessment. But strip away a colonial India from this layered narrative. Peel away the British Raj too and the concomitant censure that its historical injustices invite. And you will find this to be Forster's unambi ...more
Sean Barrs
In a rather ironic piece of narration, E.M. Forster sums up my opinion of this book perfectly:

“Most of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it, and the books and talk that would describe it as interesting are obliged to exaggerate, in the hope of justifying their own existence.”

Indeed, this book was so terribly dull. Ordinary, bland and mundane are all words that spring to mind. Nothing happened other than a single piece of melodrama that somehow managed to dominate the b
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 20-ce, uk
A Passage to India seems a bolder statement on Colonialism and racism than ever. The Indians are thoughtful and droll, speaking about the trouble making friends with Englishmen, who become less personable the longer they are in India. The British seem to a man all about keeping the Indian down, of holding the colony by force. The writing is beautiful. I just finished E.L. Doctorow's The March, which errs on the purplish side at times. There's no such overwriting here. Even when one reads more sl ...more
Henry Avila
Jul 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adela Quested a plain looking young , affable and naive English school teacher travels to distant India in the early 1920's accompanied by the elderly , kind Mrs. Moore (maybe her future mother-in-law) a widow twice and see the real country, more important to decide if she will marry Mrs. Moore's son the magistrate, of the unimportant city of Chandrapore disillusioned Ronny Heaslop ( he dislikes Indians now)...Conditions are very uneasy in India the natives hate the British rulers and seek indep ...more
Paul Bryant
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, novels

Forster deals blows right and left in this novel and modern readers will grimace when they read the intricately exposed racism of the British in India (the lofty British ladies learning just enough Urdu to be able to give instructions to the servants); but alas, some of the generalisations about Indians will jar as the narrator throws out stuff like

Like most Orientals, Aziz overrated hospitality, mistaking it for intimacy, and not seeing that it is tainted with
In a novel with the line “a perfectly adjusted organism would be silent” it is no surprise that the centre of this cloud of writing is the idea of the difficulty, or the possible impossibility of communication and direct connection between people.

Instead understanding has to be intuitive and incommunicable, Mrs Moore knows nothing has happened but can’t convince her son, how she knows or how Professor Godbole knows about her and the wasp is unclear and if we don’t like telepathy as an answer the
I read A Passage To India for my Completist Book Club on Goodreads. This is a book that I may have never even heard of if it was not for that group. For those who are curious, it is a club that chooses books from must read lists to read each month. Because of this club, I have been able to find some interesting, some challenging, and, sadly, even some boring books that I cannot figure out why they are must reads. But, whatever the case, I am always glad to be a part of the group because it has r ...more
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The past! the infinite greatness of the past!’ thrilled Walt Whitman in ‘A Passage to India’. A quarter of a century later, Forster borrowed Whitman's title, but with a very different mood in mind. In place of the American's wild-eyed certainties, Forster gives us echoes and confusion; instead of epic quests of the soul, there is only an eternal impasse of personal and cultural misunderstanding.

Animals and birds are half-seen, unidentified; the landscape is a featureless blur; motives are illog
So easy going - and then wham!
Quentin Tarantino could learn a lot from E M Forster. He'd learn that there's no need to pile on the menace in the early stages. The shock, when it comes is much more effective if the reader/viewer has been led into thinking all is ordinary and relatively safe. Forster is a master story teller, and a true philosopher as well.
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a Saturday evening, and you and your significant other have just arrived at an outdoor barbecue, hosted by your sweetheart's employer.

As you step out on to the patio, you do a quick visual sweep of the social atmosphere. At first glance, it looks as though the party is dominated by your partner's coworkers, which is unfortunate, as they are all metallurgists. That's right. They're all metallurgists, and you're. . . well, you're you.

You've got your fingers crossed that someone's significant
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So there's this book, and every summary you read says it's about what happens one afternoon in one of these caves. So you pick up the book and begin to read. There's the caves, and there's the event, and as you turn the final page you realize you have never been so happily deceived, for this book has been one of the most memorable tales of a friendship you have read. Is it wrong that in future you may consider reading only Part III? It begins with a collar stud, and somewhere in the middle there ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first encountered this book,it felt like a chore. It was required reading for class,and had to be crammed.

Years later,I saw David Lean's magnificent film adaptation.It was a superb effort,which quickly became one of my favourite films.I can watch it again and again.

When this book was written,the end of British rule in the sub-continent was still decades away. Unusually for an Englishman of that era,Forster depicts the growing resentment against the British Raj in India. George Orwell's Bu
Katia N
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started to listen to this novel, but then I loved it so much that I’ve bought the actual book. It is a superb realistic novel: the characters, social conflict, the plot, the setting and also something intangible which is hard to express in words. But that, intangible is what really matters.

Through my reading experience, I could not shrug off the feeling how little the dramatic development depended on the action of any individual character. How there was a certain inevitability and logic where
Katie Lumsden
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this. Such an interesting novel, with such well-crafted characters. E.M. Forster is a fantastic writer, and never ceases to impress me.
A Passage to India is set in the time the British ruled India. Forster wrote this book after visiting India and having first hand seen the real relationship of the ruling British and the ruled natives. Since he had personal experience, it was easy for him to paint a true and accurate picture of how the British administrators governed the natives. First and foremost, Forster saw it was to be oppressive; he was not happy with the way the natives were treated. He observed a difference in the Brit ...more
The more I explore E.M. Forster’s books, the more I come to realize that he was a man who held very unconventional views for his days. In “A Room with a View”, he discussed the independence of spirit of women, in “Howards’ End”, the subtle ways the class division separates people and in “A Passage to India”, he expresses very anti-colonialist views about what was once the jewel of the crown: British-occupied India.

Racial tensions and prejudices turn a misunderstanding into quite a drama. The por
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for literary nytol
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Written in 1924 this so called literary classic and 1001 book is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the slow move towards Independence. This book has been showered with awards - I gave my copy of a good shake just to see if any of the awards had got stuck between the pages - although personally the only award I would be inclined to hand out for E.M Forster's most famous novel would be the highly coveted shovelmonkey1 pillow award for producing an epic snooze fest.

I read this book w
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is so far my favorite book by E.M. Forster. I tried A Room with a View first and gave that three stars. This one, set in India probably about a decade or two before independence, mirrors British colonialism and the multicultural diversity of the land. This one has much more meat on its bones. Religion, multi-ethnicity, colonialism, imperialism, the dogged belief in the superiority of the rulers over the ruled and most specifically how very difficult it is to communicate over cultural barrie ...more
This tediously long 362 page story set in a 1924 British ruled India begins when an "old" (twice married) Mrs. Moore brings a plain freckled-faced Adela Quested on a visit to meet her son Ronny Heaslop, the City Magistrate, with hopes of marriage. Mrs. Moore soon befriends a local Indian and Surgeon, Dr. Aziz (view spoiler) causing a political uproar.

At this point in the novel.....a little over 160 page

The one word that kept coming to mind as I read this and even after I finished, is: "Remarkable".

Honestly, even if I had never been told that E. M. Forster is one of those legendary greats, as mysterious as he is beloved, I would point to his writing and say the same damn thing.

I'm genuinely awed.

Beyond simple, clear prose, I was enraptured by the humor and odd observations in the dialogues, the irony of Colonial England ladies wanting to see "The Real India", or the great way that every single
Megan Baxter
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can there ever be friendship between the colonizer and colonized? Individuals from each group? Can that trust last? Can it flourish? What happens when events put it under stress?

Forster has no easy answers in this book, as he dissects British colonial rule in India, and its impact on Indians and the British who have come there expressly to rule over India.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to th
Set against the back drop of the British Raj this books explores the question of whether there could ever be a real bond of friendship and brotherhood between people belonging to two different nations, religion, culture. Although published in 1924, this book is suggestive of the mood which eventually led to the events of 1947 in the Sub Continent.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

In some ways it's hard to believe that this was published in 1924, given the prescience Forster demonstrates in relation to the future of the British Raj. Towards the end of the novel, one of the central characters, Dr Aziz, effectively predicts that Indians will throw out the British when England is is involved in another war in Europe and articulates - albeit not in so many words - the need for Indians to identify as Indians rather than as members of their individual religious communities in o
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The India of Forster’s imagination is a vast, incoherent land of hostile earth and oppressive air; the weather, inhospitable to human life; the sun, a burning, penetrating force that crushes the soul; in the distance, sand, fields, bushes, more sand, more bushes, all indecipherable, all impenetrable to human reason. The mind boggles at the immensity and confusion of India, at the distant mountains, at the strange religions, at the endless tracts of land blending with the gray and threatening sky ...more
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list
"The sky settles everything - not only climates and seasons but when the earth shall be beautiful. By herself she can do little - only feeble outbursts of flowers. But when the sky chooses, glory can rain into the Chandrapore bazaars or a benediction pass from horizon to horizon. The sky can do this because it is so strong and so enormous. Strength comes from the sun, infused in it daily; size from the prostrate earth. No mountains infringe on the curve. League after league the earth lies flat, ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To some degree this novel has dated because the world it depicts no longer exists - British empire India. This means it has unintentionally become historical fiction. Sexual politics too have changed since Forster's day and I'm not sure too many novelists nowadays would pivot a novel on an overwrought woman falsely accusing a man of molesting her. There's a danger here of using one prejudice to condemn another - a sexist prejudice against women to condemn racism. However, Forster is too astute a ...more

This book is a classic, but its motifs of culture clash and racialism strike an unfortunate chord in current times.


The plot revolves around an Englishwoman who wrongly accuses a Muslim Indian doctor of attempting to assault her while they're visiting mystical Indian caves. Set in a time when the British controlled India, the book has several sub-themes.

One is the condescending attitude and behavior of the Brits toward the Indian people and the consequent mistrust and dislike the Indians f
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"India likes gods."
"And Englishmen like posing as gods.”

I first read this classic back when I was 18 and remember liking it. The main plot had remained in my memory but not much else. Re-reading it now in my 40s, I’m amazed how this text is so relevant to today’s sociological and indeed political landscape.

Forster’s novel, published in 1924, dealt with imperialism, showing the interactions between British and Indians in the fictional city of Chandrapore. As you expect, most of the English b
Susan's Reviews
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one shortly after I inhaled A Room with a View. I was way, way too young to understand everything that was going on in the story, but the writing was lovely, and I did get the gist of all the injustice, corruption and racism that was Colonialism. I remember thinking: when will humans stop conquering each other and just live in peace? But, then, of course, I had yet to learn the bitter fact that money makes the world go around. Time for a reread? I think there is a film adaptation of ...more
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Edward Morgan Forster, generally published as E.M. Forster, was an novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. His humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be aptly summed up in the epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End: "Only connect".

He had five

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“Adventures do occur, but not punctually.” 240 likes
“Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate.” 163 likes
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