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A Passage to India 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 masterful 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 It s a Saturday evening, and you and your significant other have just arrived at an outdoor barbecue, hosted by your sweetheart s employer As you step out on to the patio, you do a quick visual sweep of the social atmosphere At first glance, it looks as though the party is dominated by your partner s coworkers, which is unfortunate, as they are all metallurgists That s right They re all metallurgists, and you re well, you re you.You ve got your fingers crossed that someone s significant It s a Saturday evening, and you and your significant other have just arrived at an outdoor barbecue, hosted by your sweetheart s employer As you step out on to the patio, you do a quick visual sweep of the social atmosphere At first glance, it looks as though the party is dominated by your partner s coworkers, which is unfortunate, as they are all metallurgists That s right They re all metallurgists, and you re well, you re you.You ve got your fingers crossed that someone s significant other will turn out to be a pole dancer or a comedian, but as you approach the first pockets of people, you realize that, as usual, you re dreaming.You dash off to find alcohol to sustain you, only to discover that the host is a recovering alcoholic and the only beverage that will be served on this night is a cucumber infused water What in the hell Soldiering on, you bravely break into one or two of these small social packs, trying to crack a joke, entertaining yourself by balancing the sliced cucumbers on your eyes, pretending they are pennies and you are blessedly dead.No such luck You re alive, but you re invisible, and you are stone cold sober and this may be the most boring evening of your life Your partner has abandoned you to some work related issue, and you are completely hopeless until you stumble upon a group of three people, standing off to the side You hear something about a Dr Aziz and some accusations that are damning, that apparently have been made by a female coworker Two of the people reveal in the conversation that they are HR employees, and they are investigating the claim You are suddenly a fly on the paper plate You can t hover closely enough You are riveted You hate to admit it, but you ve always loved a good scandal as long as it doesn t involve you.You listen for as long as possible, until the small group breaks apart and walks away Your partner startles you, returning to you, pulling you out of the trance of the story, and indicates to you that it s time to leave Time to leave But it just FINALLY got interesting Adventures do occur, but not punctually Life rarely gives us what we want at the moment we consider appropriate Illustrations from the Folio Edition by Ian Ribbons.Adela Quested and Mrs Moore have journeyed to India with the intention of arranging a marriage between Adela and Mrs Moore s son Ronny Heaslop He is the British magistrate of the city of Chandrapore He is imperial, muchso than when Adela knew him in EnglandIndia had developed sides of his character that she had nev Adventures do occur, but not punctually Life rarely gives us what we want at the moment we consider appropriate Illustrations from the Folio Edition by Ian Ribbons.Adela Quested and Mrs Moore have journeyed to India with the intention of arranging a marriage between Adela and Mrs Moore s son Ronny Heaslop He is the British magistrate of the city of Chandrapore He is imperial, muchso than when Adela knew him in EnglandIndia had developed sides of his character that she had never admired His self complacency, his censoriousness, his lack of subtlety, all grew vivid beneath a tropic sky he seemedindifferent than of old to what was passing in the minds of his fellows,certain that he was right about them or that if he was wrong it didn t matterMy impression is that Heaslop may have been elevated rather quickly and had no time to develop his own ideas of the way things were in India, but simply borrowed the established views of thesenior British officials in India In this new role he was required to play he is a very different person than the young lad that Adela knew in England She had decided to break off the engagement and then fate intercedes with a near death experience that allows her to see Heaslop in a different light The engagement is back onSometimes I think too much fuss is made about marriage Century after century of carnal embracement and we re still no nearer to understanding one another It is always interesting to listen to people talk about marriage Sometimes people can be too cerebral and talk themselves out of a perfectly acceptable relationship Others give the commitment of marriage the same amount of thought as they do to deciding what they want for lunch Arranged marriages used to work perfectly well simply because they were an alliance usually involving money and future offspring We decided, at some point, that romance was the elixir that we must desire the most in a relationship Divorce rates have skyrocketed and most people are not any happier than when marriages were arranged for them by their relatives, but free will has given people the idea that happiness can be achieved if they can just find that right person It is always better to own your unhappiness or happiness instead of having it decided for you Adela is not very pretty, but she does have some money Heaslop seems rather indifferent about the whole arrangement Yes, he wants the marriage, butfor fulfilling a necessary obligation The sooner it is settled the sooner he can move on to other things ofimportance Adela is trying to decide whether to accept this situation or wait to see if their is a better one on the horizon Dr Aziz meets Mrs Moore by chance in a mosque and though their meeting is rocky in the beginning a friendship quickly blossoms Adela wants to see the real India, by, well, interacting with real Indians A meeting is arranged with Dr Aziz and in the course of their conversations with one another Aziz extends an invitation to take them on a journey to see the Marabar Caves This is one of those invitations that are extended as a courtesy during a party that are never expected to be fulfilled To his horror, he discovers, a few days later through an intermediary that the women fully expect him to take them to the caves At great expense to himself he arranges this outing Aziz has always been a friend of the British, in fact, one of his best friends is a British teacher named Cyril Fielding He had arranged for Fielding and another friend to go with them on this journey to provide the much needed cultural bridge between him and the ladies His friends miss the train Disaster looms Aziz is accused of physically assaulting Adela in one of the caves Ridiculous Fielding says Of course he attacked her the British community insists All these brutes desire our women As events unfold it becomesandunclear as to what really happened, but even as doubt is raised the Colonialists continue to believe that Aziz is guilty He must be guilty.This is considered E M Forster s masterpiece and lands on most top 100 books of all time lists I personally did not enjoy this book as much as I have some of his other books, but because of the subject matter of this book and when it was published, I fully understand why people look on this novel as his most significant book He was poking a finger in the eye of his own government and their insistence on continuing to try to rule the world with brutality laced with blatant racism I can see the men, who returned triumphantly from their postings abroad, sitting around their clubs back in London angrily discussing this book I won t tell you what happened to Adela or what happened to Aziz, but tragically there was a realignment of thought for both of them Adela never wanted to see India again Aziz never wanted to see an Englishman woman again In fact, for the first time he feels at peace with who he is I am an Indian at last If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at Make no mistake This, to me, will always be Forster s magnum opus even though I am yet to even acquaint myself with the synopses of either Howards End or Maurice Maybe it is the handicap of my Indian sentimentality that I cannot remedy on whim to fine tune my capacity for objective assessment But strip away a colonial India from this layered narrative Peel away the British Raj too and the concomitant censure that its historical injustices invite And you will find this to be Forster s unambi Make no mistake This, to me, will always be Forster s magnum opus even though I am yet to even acquaint myself with the synopses of either Howards End or Maurice Maybe it is the handicap of my Indian sentimentality that I cannot remedy on whim to fine tune my capacity for objective assessment But strip away a colonial India from this layered narrative Peel away the British Raj too and the concomitant censure that its historical injustices invite And you will find this to be Forster s unambiguous, lucid vision of humanity languishing in a zone of resentful sociocultural synthesis, his unhesitant condemnation not merely of racism, casteism, religion ism and what other noxious, vindictive ism s we have had throughout the history of our collective existence but of the fatalistic human tendency of rejecting a simple truth in favour of self justifying contrivances.Yes there s the much hyped crime analyzed in the broader context of presupposed guilt and innocence There s the issue of race, class and privilege factoring into the ensuing judicial process The ripples of the eventual fallout of this mishap disrupt the frail status quo that all parties on either side of the race divide were tacitly maintaining so far and pose crucial existential questions before people of all communities Then there are hypocritical Englishmen who cannot choose between preserving the sanctity of the Empire s administrative machinery and upholding their own prejudices And hypocritical Indians who righteously accuse the Englishmen of institutionalized hatred while stringently maintaining their own brand of intolerance But greater than the sum of all these thematic veins is the connecting thread of Forster s sure footed, measured prose which explores not only the inner lives of the central characters but tries to penetrate the heart of a nation state in the making.The India depicted here is a foreign country to me a time and a place yet to be demarcated irreversibly along lines of communal identities that are presently dominating our political rhetoric It is of little appeal to the newly arrived umpteenth Englishman but, nonetheless, presents itself as an amalgamation of unrealized possibilities Not once did my brows knit together in frustration on the discovery of any passage or line even casting a whiff of Forster s bias against the people or the land My senses were stretched taut all the time in an effort to detect any Sure, Dr Aziz is a little infantilized and his importance is sometimes reduced to that of a plot device used for manufacturing the central conflict while Adela Quested, Mrs Moore and Mr Fielding appear before a reader as upright individuals who stand for the truth The other Indian characters seem to be defined by their general pettiness But these imperfect characterizations can bethan forgiven in the light of what Forster does accomplishThe song of the future must transcend creed There are times when the narrator s voice dissects the drama unfolding against unfamiliar Indian landscapes with a kind of fond exasperation and times when it dissolves into a withering regret for the way the engines of civilization continue to trundle along towards some catastrophic destiny without ever pausing for the purpose of self assessment And it is the profound clarity of Forster s worldviews and his sensitivity and forthrightness in deconstructing the enigma of the Orient that elevates his writing even furtherPerhaps life is a mystery, not a muddle they could not tell Perhaps the hundred Indias which fuss and squabble so tiresomely are one, and the universe they mirror is one It s not the handicap of my Indian sentimentality after all Forster sought to extract the kernel of truth buried underneath layers of artifice and his craft could successfully flesh out the blank spaces between that which can be expressed with ease Those are always worthy enough literary achievements in my eyes In a rather ironic piece of narration, E.M Forster sums up my opinion of this book perfectlyMost of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it, and the books and talk that would describe it as interesting are obliged to exaggerate, in the hope of justifying their own existence Indeed, this book was so terribly dull Ordinary, bland and mundane are all words that spring to mind Nothing happened other than a single piece of melodrama that somehow managed to dominate the b In a rather ironic piece of narration, E.M Forster sums up my opinion of this book perfectlyMost of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it, and the books and talk that would describe it as interesting are obliged to exaggerate, in the hope of justifying their own existence Indeed, this book was so terribly dull Ordinary, bland and mundane are all words that spring to mind Nothing happened other than a single piece of melodrama that somehow managed to dominate the book I understand why this book is so widely read and studied From a critical postcolonial perspective, there are lots of juicy bits in here to dissect There s a lot to talk about, and I could easily write an essay on it because it raises so many important debates about race and national identity in the wake of colonialism Seeing the true face of India becomes a difficult task because it has become so obscured with foreign influence and prejudices.Indeed, the book is fiercely anti imperialist and presents a compelling case for the benefits of an independent India It also highlights the injustices the Indian native faced Colonial rule is never good, and the coloniser always thinks his ways are better to the detriment of local culture, education and employment He takes over and ruins everything despite how much he naively believes that he is improving the life of those he is oppressing Despite all this the plot has no energy There were perhaps a few chapters, nothat forty pages or so, where the narrative managed to gain some momentum The protagonist was imprisoned for a crime he didn t do and the bits leading up to his trial were quite engaging When the verdict was eventually reached the rest of the novel dribbled on There was no story left Yet it continued for another hundred pages This meant that for a relatively short book, this felt like a really, really, long book This is a book I SHOULD have liked I was really surprised at my reaction to this This is a book that appeals directly to my interests yet, it just seemed so painfully convoluted and dull I did, however, really appreciate E.M Forster s prose He is a very skilful writer and a wordsmith, his sentences and paragraphs roll into each other perfectly This seems like a generic point, though I only make it because the surface level of his writing is so eloquent in places It s just a shame the plot did not carry the same level of mastery It just needed to be tighter andfocused to be effective Like Heart of Darkness it occupies an uncertain place in the cannon of English literature it s not quite radical enough and prejudice free to be fully anti colonial yet is still demonstrates the need for change It s a book I could study, but never one I could enjoy Although I didn t like this, I will still be trying another one of E.M Forster s novels in the future

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