Book: A Passage To India, by E. M. Forster
Back from a long summer break, during that time I finished reading the second of the "great novels" from a list which I am slowly working through...
More of a character novel than many modern novels, A Passage To India doesn't have quite the action or sex or even violence that features all too commonly in works of fiction these days, yet it is proof that such cheap thrills are not needed to keep the reader's interest, if the writer is good enough.Although centring mainly on an Indian doctor and an English teacher living in Chandrapore, at around the time it was written (1924), along with their friendship, a large number of less important characters appear, and more importantly are developed, throughout the course of the story. The political conditions in India presented in the story are based on what they actually were at the time, and although it is noted in the introduction (or possibly the after-story notes, i forget) that even when Forster wrote the book, the situation in India was changing - for the better - it is still surprising to think that change was only coming about just less than 60 years before I was born. Then I remember apartheid, and segregation, and all that other bad stuff...anyway, A Passage To india is something of a puzzle for me. I can understand, particularly after reading most of "Peter Burra's Introduction to the Everyman Edition" (included in my version of the book, but at the end), how certain happenings in the book would have been considered violent back when it was written, but these days, I doubt anyone would raise an eyebrow. And yet, for all the lack of action, and the fact that at many points it doesn't feel as if the story is actually "going anywhere" (instead it is just going), it managed to hold my interest without fail. I finished it, and I enjoyed it, I probably missed some of the subtler touches but I don't really care about that. I loved the descriptions of places and people and events. Often, I find that God really is in the details, and A Passage To india is proof of that. It's probably only two things that caused me to enjoy this book as much as I did; the level of detail, and the fact that there didn't seem to be a definite point to the story. When it reaches the end, you don't really feel like that's the end, but not in a bad and unfinished way. it's a little difficult to explain. the best way I can put it is, I am at that stage in my life where I've not got any long-term commitments, and there are many countries I would like to visit. I am only 21, so hopefully have at least a decade or so in which to go off exploring without worrying that I've left someone or something behind. I have no definite future plans. Somehow, something in this book "clicks" with all of that, all the way through. i could shrug and say, it's just because of the descriptions of India, India being one of the countries I'd like to see some day, but whilst I can't put into words exactly why it is so, I know that'd not be enough to explain it.if you want to read an in-depth analysis of A Passage To India, in fact it's of E.M. Forster and his works generally, you could start with Peter Burra's Introduction to the Everyman Edition, being a quite detailed look at Forster's writings (though not covering any particular one in great detail).
paperback (Everyman's Library Classics)
paperback (Penguin Modern Classics)