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A Passage to India

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Plot

Passage to India, A, a novel by E. M. *Forster, published 1924. It is a picture of society in India under the British Raj, of the clash between East and West, and of the prejudices and misunderstandings that foredoomed goodwill. Criticized at first for anti-British and possibly inaccurate bias, it has been praised as a superb character study of people of one race by a writer of another.

The story is told in Three parts, I, Mosque, II, Caves, III, Temple, and concerns Aziz, a young Muslim doctor, whose friendliness and enthusiasm for the British turn to bitterness and disillusionment when his pride is injured. A sympathy springs up between him and the elderly Mrs Moore, who has come to visit her son, the City Magistrate. Accompanying her is Adela Quested, young, earnest, and charmless, who longs to know the 'real' India and tries to disregard the taboos and snobberies of the British circle. Aziz organizes an expedition for the visitors to the famous Caves of Marbar, where an unforeseen development plunges him into disgrace and rouses deep antagonism between the two races. Adela accuses him of insulting her in the Caves, he is committed to prison and stands trial. Adela withdraws her charge, but Aziz turns furiously away from the British, towards a Hindu-Muslim entente. In the third part of the book he has moved to a post in a native state, and is bringing up his family in peace, writing poetry and reading Persian. He is visited by his friend Mr Fielding, the former Principal of the Government College, an intelligent, hard.bitten man. They discuss the future of India and Aziz prophesis that only when the British are driven out can he and Fielding really be friends. Among the many characters is Professor Godbole, the detached and saintly Bramin who makes his final appearance in supreme tranquillity at the festival of the Hindu temple.

(Text from Drabble, Margaret. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Oxford, New York: OUP, 1998.; © Margaret Drabble and Oxford University Press 1985, 1995; cited here by permission of Oxford University Press.)

Film Adaption

A Passage to India (1984) was directed by David Lean, adaption for film by David Lean. Cast overview, first billed only: Judy Davis - Adela Quested, Victor Banerjee - Doctor Aziz, Peggy Ashcroft - Mrs. Moore, James Fox (I) - Richard Fielding, Alec Guinness - Professor Godbole, Nigel Havers - Ronny Heaslop, Richard Wilson (II) - Turton, Antonia Pemberton - Mrs. Turton, Michael Culver - McBryde, Art Malik - Mahmoud Ali, Saeed Jaffrey - Hamidullah, Clive Swift - Major Callendar, Anne Firbank - Mrs. Callendar, Roshan Seth - Amritrao, Sandra Hotz - Stella, ....; runtime: 163 min.; country: UK; language: English; colour: colour; sound: Dolby; certification: Argentina:Atp, Finland:K-12, France:K-12, Sweden:11, USA:PG.

Play of the Month: Passage to India (1965) was a TV production, directed by Waris Hussein. Cast overview: Michael Bates (I), Cyril Cusack, Saeed Jaffrey, Virginia McKenna, Zia Mohyeddin, Sybil Thorndike; country: UK; language: English.

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On-line material

  • Audio book: A Passage to India (Free, abridged) at Yahoo.

  • Critisism: ClassicNotes: A Passage to India

  • Essay: Language of the document: Italian. Cerra, Daniele. "E.M.Forster e l'India." Homepage. 26 Mar. 2001. 6 Aug. 2003.

    Cerra shows in his bachelor thesis the importance of E. M. Forster's visits to and his subsequent writings about India. Index, introduction, the first chapter and an extensive bibliography are on-line.

  • Essay: Confusion In The Caves Of India

  • Essay: Patel, Amit and Emma Richardson. "The Role of the Marabar Caves in A Passage to India." 25 Nov. 1996. 23 July 2003.

    Short essay reading the Marabar Caves as symbol of a general decadence after World War I.

  • Essay: King, Steve. "Literary Daybook, June 4." Salon.com Books. 4 June 2002.

    The section "Today in Literary History" explores into the publication of E. M. Forster's last novel in 1924.

  • Project: A Passage to India: A project by Springfield students, consisting of an overview, a bibliography, etc..

  • Radio broadcast: NPR News Book Club January 20, 2000: A Passage to India by E.M. Forster (Real Audio, 46"41' in 14.4 or 28.8 quality).

  • Review: "A Passage to India" (20 June 1924, The Guardian) at The Guardian's homepage.

 
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