Veronique's Reviews > A Passage to India

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
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really liked it
bookshelves: favourites-5and4-5, 2017


"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 behave in the most atrocious manner, full of conceit, bigotry, racism, and indeed ignorance.

That in itself is not groundbreaking. No, the shock came from the author portraying both sides in his narration, giving voice to the natives too, and thus challenging the very essence of colonialism. Forster also showed the tension between the Muslim and Hindu characters, who often were just ‘bundled’ together in the eyes of the British.

Reading this, I could see the inherent incomprehension between the two sides, their wild and ungrounded assumptions in both race and religion, making the ‘explosion’ only too natural. Sounds familiar? The other thing that I noticed from my early 21st century viewpoint is the role of women, some behaving even worse than their spouses, others trying to do the right thing, all used as pawns.

I do wonder what made Forster write this and if his own circumstances (especially his personal ones making him feel outside the social norm) gave him the impetus to analyse further. The novel doesn't really give a 'solution' but, by bringing these issues to the fore, make us more aware of them and hopefully teach us too.
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Reading Progress

July 29, 2014 – Shelved
January 12, 2017 –
page 120
31.91% "India likes gods; and englishmen like posing as gods..."
Started Reading
January 13, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie Glad you enjoyed it, Veronique!

message 3: by David (new) - added it

David A fine book indeed.

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