Century of Books

My project to read the top 100 English-language books of the twentieth century.

Location: San Francisco, United States

I am an Australian writer and blogger living in San Francisco. Visit my professional site at caitlinfitzsimmons.com, or my travel and food blog at Roaming Tales or my personal blog at The Niltiac Files. I am also on Twitter as @niltiac. See the full list of books or visit me on BookCrossing.

14 September 2006

A Passage to India by E. M. Forster

A Passage to India was published in 1924, as India stood on the threshold of great changes. The portrait it paints of Anglo-India (the British in India) is quite damning and the portrayal of the Indians is not especially flattering either. The Brits were nearly all close-minded snobs and the natives were overly emotional and inclined to value form and courtesy over truth and genuine compassion.

I felt claustrophobic reading this novel as if I were forced to choose between the tiresome and confined world of the Anglo-Indians or the grinding poverty and daily humiliation of the Indians. There was no sense of openness or freedom; everything seemed narrow and closed.

To be completely honest, I found this book a hard slog. I didn't find any of the characters especially sympathetic, the plot was hardly gripping and the device of Adela's psychological condition after the incident in the caves felt contrived and untrue. The novel covers rich thematic territory but without the emotional engagement it all felt a bit abstract.

I know Forster is rated very highly and I would be willing to try again with some of his other novels such as Howard's End or A Room with a View. I am not saying that A Passage to India is a bad novel and indeed I can see why others might like it. However, it is my personal response to literature that matters to me and ultimately this novel neither moved nor interested me.

I read this book through BookCrossing - see all journal entries for this copy here.

37 down, 63 to go...


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