Kerry Hennigan's Reviews > A Passage to India

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
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Mar 08, 2012

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Read in March, 2012

It wasn't until I found a sumptuous leather bound illustrated edition of E M Forster's classic novel in a charity bookshop that I actually got around to reading "A Passage to India" even though I've known, loved and watched David Lean's movie adaptation many, many times.

The book is, of course, an entirely different experience, as it should be. Written with great insight into the plight of Indians in British Indian, and the British themselves in India, it is a reflection of a now by-gone age, yet expresses some very modern sensibilities when it comes to the inequalities in society encountered by the different social, cultural, religious and racial groups in the story.

Aziz, Fielding, Miss Quested, Ronnie and Mrs Moore are portrayed as individuals who each provide a different perspective, a way of perceiving and interacting with India and the Indians that surround them.

Aziz is a Muslim doctor, working for the English, and pleased to associate with those he considers the best examples, like the school headmaster Fielding. Fielding himself has an enlightened approach to India and Indians, but manages to disappoint both Aziz and the English when Miss Quested's misadventure at the Marabar Caves spells disaster for the young Indian doctor.

Miss Quested starts out desirous of getting to know the real India - and hopes Aziz will show her - but she is restricted by both her fiance Ronnie and the situations in which she finds herself overwhelmed by the 'otherness' of India.

Mrs Moore, the wise soul who appears goddess-like to some of the Indians, including Aziz, will desert them when they most need her support.

The story of "A Passage to India" is so well known, yet not so easily understood. The literary version is equally if not more enigmatic than the movie. If you're looking to have some of the mysteries explained, you'll be disappointed. But if you're hoping for an insight into the life and times of the British Raj in the 1920s, and the Indians who were a part of it, but not of if, you will find the novel richly rewarding.


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