Passage to India
By: E. M. Forster (1879-1970)
E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India is widely acclaimed as one of the hundred best literary works of 20th century. Time magazine rates it among the top 100 English-language novels of all time.
A Passage to India is set at the moment when the lasting supremacy of the British Raj could no longer be taken for granted. Imperial power had been effectively supported by old and deep-seated religious and cultural conflicts between India’s Hindu and Muslim populations, which divided and sapped the local powers ultimately needed to overthrew imperial rule in 1947. Forster illustrates how this rift begins to be overshadowed by the increasing resistance of all Indians to the extreme racism, oppression and socio-political mismanagement of British rule.
The work is perhaps best known for his brilliant development of the relationships between his characters, which are fraught by a wide range of precarious cultural, social, political and economic dualisms: e.g., Occident / Orient; imperialist / colonial; men / women. He carries the idea expressed in his famous words “only connect” to its limits, examining the difficulties – often the inherent impossibility – of “connection” across racial, sexual, religious and social divides. - Summary by Kirsten Wever