A Passage to India, Paperback
4 out of 5 (10 ratings)


Exploring issues of colonialism, faith and the limits of comprehension, E.M.

Forster's "A Passage to India" is edited by Oliver Stallybrass, with an introduction by Pankaj Mishra.

When Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced 'Anglo-Indian' community.

Determined to escape the parochial English enclave and explore the 'real India', they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim.

But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects.

A masterly portrait of a society in the grip of imperialism, "A Passage to India" compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world.

In his introduction, Pankaj Mishra outlines Forster's complex engagement with Indian society and culture. This edition reproduces the Abinger text and notes, and also includes four of Forster's essays on India, a chronology and further reading.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) was a noted English author and critic and a member of the Bloomsbury group.

His first novel, "Where Angels Fear To Tread" appeared in 1905. "The Longest Journey" appeared in 1907, followed by "A Room With A View" (1908), based partly on the material from extended holidays in Italy with his mother. "Howards End" (1910) was a story that centred on an English country house and dealt with the clash between two families, one interested in art and literature, the other only in business.

Maurice was revised several times during his life, and finally published posthumously in 1971.

If you enjoyed "A Passage to India", you might like Rudyard Kipling's "Kim", also available in "Penguin Classics". "His great book...masterly in its presence and its lucidity". (Anita Desai).




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Showing 1 - 5 of 10 reviews.

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I have always loved this book, and I am a big Forster fan, mainly because I think he captures a sense of otherness uncommon amongst many Edwardian writers. This novel sympathetically portrays India and castigates British social constructs and sensibilities that preserved an artificial and inhuman hierarchy in the Empire.

Review by

A memorable study of cultural misunderstanding that becomes a wider contemplation of human suffering. It well deserves to be considered a classic.

Review by

“A Passage to India” takes place during the early years of Britain’s colonization of the government. The Indian citizens are looked on as a lesser race in their own country! Western ways are thought to be desired by the natives … the foods, dress, etc… are copied. The white man is catered to for the wealth he brings which amounts to little more than pennies for the natives. Mrs. Moore is visiting from England with Adela Quested, a young woman, who is to marry her son Ronny, a magistrate, in the town of Chandapore. The two women are anxious to see the real India. Not the recreation of English life in an Indian setting. Not the typical elephant ride, but everyday life of common Indians. In a mosque Mrs. Moore becomes acquainted with an Indian doctor, Aziz, who offers to take her and Miss Quested on a tour of the Marabar Caves.The country is beautifully described, but the meat of the story revolves around racial conflict.At the caves, a suspicious assault on Adela takes place, and in her disoriented state she falsely accuses Aziz as her “attacker.” When the case goes to trial, Ronny sends his mother home rather than let her testify, because she believes Aziz is innocent. When Adela is called to the stand she recants her earlier testimony and denies the charge against Aziz, claiming she was and is confused about the situation. After Adela changes her story, Ronny breaks the engagement. Ronny believes the stereotype that Indian men lust after white women. Mr. Felding, an Englishman, but also a friend of the Indian doctor tries to remain loyal. Even so Aziz has lost his faith in “whites” after the ordeal he went through when held suspect for the crime.The misunderstanding of intentions can’t be avoided when considering the different beliefs of these two cultures.Forster leaves us to ponder the difficulties that mixing race and cultures can bring, as well as the danger of prejudices.I recommend that this book not be overlooked. And if you think I’ve spoiled the story by revealing too much, there are many parts not mentioned that will surprise you and keep you reading until the end.

Review by

In A Passage to India, Forster writes about ruling British colonials and their relationship with India in the early 1900s. At the heart of the story are complex issues of empire, race, religion, cultural differences, mistrust, decency, and tension between the English (Anglo-Indians), Muslims and Hindus. It raises the question of the possibility of friendship between an Englishman and an Indian in the context of British colonialism. The relationship between the British and Indian characters is quite compelling and is told from a number of different voices; characters whose emotions and feelings are based on their perceptions of each other through distorted racial prejudice.Forster uses his experiences as a foreigner abroad to paint a picture of India as striking and beautiful, a diverse "muddle" of formless countryside, unidentifiable nature and various ethnic, religious and linguistic groups, under the ordered and authoritative yet condescending rule of colonial Britain. Two women, Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested, arrive seeking the "real" India of adventure and mystery, and resolve to experience it without the prejudices exhibited by their English compatriots. They soon meet a young Muslim Indian physician, Dr. Aziz, whose relationship with his unpleasant superiors has made him scornful of the English. Aziz quickly develops a deep respect for Mrs. Moore, however, and pronounces her Oriental. Through Mrs. Moore, he also develops a tentative friendship with Cyril Fielding, an educator who is interested in discovering more about India. Aziz organizes a tour of the Marabar Caves for his new friends, and from this the central crisis arises. The crux of the story is the mystery or "muddle" of what did or did not occur at the caves and the harm the incident brings to each of the main characters and their relationships with each other. As Aziz says, until India is free from the British, an Indian and an Englishman cannot be true friends.I really enjoyed this book, especially the interactions of the characters who often misunderstand each other's words or intentions due to linguistic and cultural differences. The prose was philosophical and poetic, yet easy to read. The larger questions of racism and oppression explored in the novel continue to resonate today.

Review by

This was the first book I was able to finish for my English class. While parts were confusing and it was not the most "action-packed" book, I enjoyed reading it to a pretty high extent. The language is very nice and the way Forster described some parts was utterly comical. I wish I didn't have to rush through the book but at least I got to finish it.

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