Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Passage to India

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Harcourt, Inc, 1952
Originally Published 1924
362 pages
Classic; FITG

Source: Bought and read for class

Summary: Adela Quested and Mrs. Moore are British citizens, excited to journey to India and see the scenery.  A new friend of Mrs. Moore's, Dr. Aziz invites them to see the Marabar Caves where a most unfortunate incident occurs leading to a court case and aggravating relations between the British colonizers and the colonized Indians.

I was really excited about this but I was left unsatisfied.  I was expecting a tale of the clash of cultures as Anglo/Indian relations were explored and gender roles were examined.  And to a degree, I got that.  But the prose was not to my liking at all.  Forster's descriptions of the scenery were so boring (almost Tolkien-esque-the only way I got through LOTR was by skimming the endless scenery descriptions and focusing on the actual plot) and it was very slow-moving.  The incident described on the book-flap is Aziz being falsely accused of sexually molesting Adela; do you know when that happens? Nearly halfway through the book! Before that, there is plenty of description and a lot of set-up to establish the personalities of the characters and the relationship between the British and the Indians.

I didn't particularly like any of the characters either.  The four main characters are Brits Adela, Mrs. Moore, and college principal Fielding in addition to Indian doctor Aziz.  My inability to feel completely connected to any of them soured my opinion of this book.  I'm not sure if that was part of Forster's intention.  However this is an useful book for study of the time period.  Rising nationalism makes an appearance and is a topic I find fascinating.

Overall: I was really disappointed; have I missed something huge with regards to Forster? I'd love to give him another try-any recommendations?

Read for personal FITG challenge.


  1. I only watched the movie and found it a bit boring. The story raises good issues, but they somehow fall flat. I haven't read Forster, but I hear that A Room with a View and Howards End are great reads.

  2. Kind of the feeling I felt when I read Joyce, was I missing something? Or as I now put it, just bad lol

  3. I've noticed a strange phenomenon recently where the cover flaps in "classics" editions reveal plot points that happen very late in the book. Either older books tended to draw out the dramatic punch or publishers think that readers really want to know the twists that happen relatively late in the book... how frustrating.

    I've heard good and bad about Forster but it seems like a lot of people agree that the writing is a bit on the dull side... one of the reasons I've yet to give his books a try...


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