lunedì 7 maggio 2007

A Passage to India - Forster's 1924 novel

It's one of books which I prefer!!!

"A passage to India", written by E.M.Forster(1879-1970), is a story set in India in the early twenties. Forster begins to write this book, that is his last novel, during his first visit to this country. His interest in human relationships seems to be developed during his years at the King's College in Cambridge.
In this novel, Forster underlines the enormous difference between the Indian and the English culture.This book mainly points out the behaviour of superiority that the British rulers have towards the Indian people.The conditions of life of the English colonies in India are really difficult and the poverty is too much. So Forster tries to show the dramatic situation of an English colony: Chandrapore.
The novel tells the story of a young English lady, called Adela Quested, who has come to Chandrapore to visit her future husband, the City Magistrate. During this travel, she makes acquaintance with a young Muslim doctor, Aziz, who organises an expedition to the Marabar Caves for Adela and the City Magistrate's mother, Mrs. Moore. In the visit to the Caves there is terrible accident: Adela accuses Aziz of attempting to rape her inside the Caves. So trial is made against the doctor, but during this, Adela suddenly reveales that she is wrong and the accusation against the doctor is unfounded. Aziz is released and this represents an important victory for India on English superiority.
Adela has a very strange personality. She seems interested in the Indian culture and ways of life but she also seems disturbed or almost scared of this. During the visit to the caves, during the trial and during her ride by bicycle we can see her weak psychology and her confusion that at a wide exent brings her to invent and to imagine that she has been raped by Aziz, her Indian friend. At the trial she asks herself: "In virtue of what had she collected this roomful of people together", but she can't find a reason. She feels herself upset and at a moment "Her body resented being called ugly, and trembled." During the trial, "while the prosecution continued, Miss Quested examined the hall - timidly at first as though it would scorch her eyes". When she is called to testify, she shows herself timorous and uncertain, almost feared of speaking. Her mind is full of confused images. "Her vision was of several caves. She saw herself in one, and she was also outside it, watching its entrance, for Aziz to pass in. She failed to locate him. It was the doubt that had often visited her, but solid and attractive, like the hills, ' I am not- ' Speech was more difficult than vision. ' I am not quite sure' ". Adela can't speak and she really feels too insecure. She doesn't know anymore what she has to say and what she thinks. Suddenly she organizes her ideas and she understands what she really has to say . So she explains that she is wrong. This revelation is very important: Aziz is in her hands and the British rulers only wait for his condemnation because he is an Indian.
However, the story has a happy end, even if the human relationship - even that of the most open-minded characters - in the end fails to overcome cultural and social barriers. An only doubt remains: what influenced Adela? Too much sun, as Aziz says to Mr. Fielding, her weak and strange personality or the sense of English superiority?


DR. AZIZ - an Indian Muslim doctor. He is a widower who loved his wife so much that he has refused to agree with his mother's suggestions that he should remarry. He begins as a gentleman who accepts the English rulers and tries to live according to their dictates, although not happily.

RONNY HEASLOP - a British District Magistrate. He is the son of Mrs. Moore and fiancé of Adela Quested. He has neither sympathy nor understanding of India, the Indian culture, or the attitude of the Indians to life. He believes that the only way to rule the Indians is by subduing them, controlling them, and even insulting them on occasions.

MRS. MOORE - an elderly British woman, who is the mother of Ronny Heaslop. She believes that people are born to love one another. She is shocked and unhappy about her son's attitude to Indians and dismayed at the behavior of many people in India.

ADELA QUESTED - the British fiancée of Ronny Heaslop. She comes to India with Mrs. Moore as a prospective bride for Ronny. She, like her future mother-in-law, is a sensitive person who does not like the behavior of the British in India. She is interested in learning about India and rather ambivalent about her engagement. She falls victim to her own imagination.

CYRIL FIELDING - the Principal of Chandrapore College, where young Indians are educated in the British style. There is no feeling of racial superiority in him. He is also scholastic, believes in the value of education, and is popular with his students. The English men tolerate him, but English women dislike him because he is not a real Sahib.

RALPH and STELLA - the children of Mrs. Moore by her second marriage. They are left in England during Mrs. Moore's trip. Forster does not develop their characters, and they are presented only towards the end of the novel. Stella Moore is married to Fielding, who confides to Aziz that his wife is inclined towards the spiritual. Ralph is an idiot savant.


- superiority towards the Indians
- cross-cultural relations
- physical passage between India and England (the Suez Canal, which opened in 1902, made it possible for the English to make their geographic passage to India in about six to eight weeks, considerably less time than previously possible)
- a journey to friendship and loyalty between people from differing cultures
- love is the key to establishing true human relationships
- different kinds of relationships are explored -- between mother and son, between a young man and woman who are engaged, between Hindus and Muslims, among Hindus themselves, between the British and the Indians, and among the British themselves.

There's also a film aout it. It's very nice:

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