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"A Passage To India" by E.M. Forster

I'm excited to announce something new to our meetups- A book exchange!  Well... to a small degree.  Bring a book with you to the monthly meetup and be ready to swap with someone else; it can even be the book of the month that we are discussing at the meetup.  I don't want to be stuck with a stash of unwanted books though, so only bring one to three at a time for swapping, and be prepared to leave with the same number of books.

 

Now on to November's book of the month.  This will be my first time to read anything by E.M. Forster, but everyone I know who has read this book absolutely raves about it, much like this reviewer:

This is book is incredible, and one of my personal favorites. Its beauty is too easily overlooked, because it is so elegantly subtle. Every aspect of the storytelling is masterful: the prose is lush and nuanced, and every character is exquisitely drawn. Drawing from the slimmest of plots, Forster weaves what seems to be an isolated incident into a complex tapestry of emotion. The central focus are the characters, who are sharply realistic and utterly, utterly human. Another aspect that I liked very much is that it takes an era, the British Raj in India, which is otherwise interpreted only with the most hotly colored emotions, and presents it with a marked neutrality, presenting it only through the eyes of the characters. A marvelous read.

http://www.amazon.com/A-Passage-India-E-M-Forster/dp/0156711427

 

A little more about the plot summary to get you interested if you aren't already...

 

E.M. Forster's A Passage to India was written at a time when the end of the British colonial presence in India was becoming a very real possibility. The novel now stands in the canon of English literature as one of the truly great discussions of that colonial presence. But, the novel also demonstrates how friendships attempt (though often failing) to span the gap between the English colonizer and the Indian colonized.
Written as a precise mixture between a realistic and recognizable setting and a mystical tone, A Passage to India shows its author as both an excellent stylist, as well as a perceptive and acute judge of human character.

Overview: A Passage to India

The main incident of the novel is the accusation by an English woman that an Indian doctor followed her into a cave and attempted to rape her. Doctor Aziz (the accused man) is a respected member of the Muslim community in India. Like many people of his social class, his relationship with the British administration is somewhat ambivalent. He sees most of the British as enormously rude, so he is pleased and flattered when an English woman, Mrs. Moore, attempts to befriend him.

Fielding also becomes a friend, and he is the only English person who attempts to help him--after the accusation is made. Despite Fielding's help, Aziz is constantly worried that Fielding will somehow betray him). The two part ways and then meet many years later. Forster suggests that the two can never really be friends until the English withdraw from India.

Wrongs of Colonization: A Passage to India

A Passage to India is a searing portrayal of the English mismanagement of India, as well as an accusatory missal against many of the racist attitudes the English colonial administration held. The novel explores the many rights and wrongs of Empire--the way in which the native Indian population was oppressed by the English administration.

With the exception of Fielding, none of the English believe in Aziz's innocence. The head of the police believes that the Indian character is inherently flawed by an ingrained criminality. There appears to be little doubt that Aziz will be found guilty, because the word of an English woman is believed over the word of an Indian.
Beyond his concern for British colonization, Forster is even more concerned with the right and wrong of human interactions. A Passage to India is about friendship. The friendship between Aziz and his English friend, Mrs. Moore, begins in almost mystical circumstances. They meet at a Mosque as the light is fading; and they discover a common bond.

Such friendships cannot last in the heat of the Indian sun--nor under the auspices of the British Empire. Forster ushers us into the minds of the characters with his stream-of-consciousness style. We begin to understand the missed meanings, the failure to connect. Ultimately, we begin to see how these characters are kept apart.

A Passage to India is a marvelously written, and marvelously sad novel. The novel emotively and naturally recreates the Raj in India, and offers insight into how the Empire was run. Ultimately, though, it's a tale of powerlessness and alienation. Even friendship and the attempt to connect fails.

http://classiclit.about.com/od/passagetoindia/fr/aa_passage.htm

Join or login to comment.

  • Rachel

    Loved the book, loved the discussion, loved the Indian food we ate during the meeting.

    December 20, 2012

  • Mark

    While I wasn't exactly crazy about the book, I did enjoy the discussion, which improved my appreciation of the book and the writer, and certainly of the story's context.

    November 26, 2012

  • Alvin C

    Great venue choice! They serve vegetarian food too.
    Here is clearer map for those who try to find the way: http://spicesutra.com/ss/images/ss_map.jpg

    November 22, 2012

    • Rachel

      Thanks for the map!

      November 25, 2012

  • Rachel

    I thought Spice Sutra would be an appropriate venue choice for this book. :) Please be aware that the bookclub doesn't charge fees or admission, but I do ask that everyone be prepared to order something off the menu at the restaurant since they are gracious enough to let us use their space. See you there!
    Ps- and please update your RSVP if you are unable to attend.

    November 22, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    hi i am first time here, how much do we need to pay :-)

    November 22, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Is there a location yet for our meeting? Looking forward to it!

    November 11, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Is there a location yet for our meeting? Looking forward to it!

    1 · November 11, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Is there a location yet for our meeting? Looking forward to it!

    November 11, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Is there a location yet for our meeting? Looking forward to it!

    November 11, 2012

  • ajmal

    i really wish to join you guys but timing matter to me. why you guys dont organise in the morning ......i used to read books in the morning and when the temparature get hot i cannot grasp 7 am to 10 am best time .....passage of india movie i watched in 1999 when only 13 years old from singapore national library. at that time they used to lend free laser discs huge size of(khubz)arab pitta bread ...the condition i had to watch from the library it self...i liked the movie very much

    November 10, 2012

    • Mark

      I think many people spend Sunday morning sleeping in, after spending Saturday night having a big night out or watching late-night English football...

      1 · November 11, 2012

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