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Definition: Passage to India from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Novel (1924) by E M Forster. In his last and possibly best novel Forster depicts Indian and English characters under the British Raj who attempt to connect and fail. The Muslim doctor Aziz and the English teacher Fielding have a friendship which is soured by an incident involving a false accusation by a confused young Englishwoman. Aziz also feels a deep bond with Mrs Moore, whose death leaves a sense of unfinished mystery. This is the keynote of the book, with its acute insights into the cultural muddles and cross-purposes of the British Raj era.


Summary Article: Passage to India, A
from Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable

A novel (1924) by E.M. Forster (1879-1970) whose three parts represent respectively the Muslim, Western and Hindu approaches to truth, rationality and spirituality. Forster visited India in 1912-13, when he saw the Barabar Hills, which became in his novel the Marabar Caves, where the fateful encounter takes place that is at the heart of the book. He returned to India for six months in 1921, to act as secretary to the Maharaja of Dewas, after which he went back to writing the novel, which he had begun in 1913. The title comes from the poem of the same name by Walt Whitman (1819-92), of whom Forster wrote that there was 'no-one who can so suddenly ravish us into communion with all humanity or with death' (Two Cheers for Democracy). An intelligent film version (1984) of the novel was directed by David Lean. See also Aziz, Dr; First lines of novels.

Copyright © Cassell / The Orion Publishing Group Ltd 2000, 2009

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