Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review: A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

Given that I’d heard so much about this book, I had high expectations. Which I should know by now is bound to result in disappointment. This is a novel set in 1920s India smack in the midst of British rule. During a trip to visit some caves, a British woman who is visiting her beau in India accuses an Indian man of raping her. The run-up to the visit to the caves, the actual visit, subsequent drama, approach of the trial, and aftermath comprise the entirety of the novel. Forster’s writing is beautiful, expansive, and detailed, I will give him that. The novel illustrates how exquisite the English language can be, if known and used properly. I’ve not recently read a book with quite so many words I didn’t know. That being said, I just felt it wasn’t going anywhere. At all. I really struggled to get into the story for some reason. Which is maybe the point, in a way- the stagnation of relations and cultural interactions, the slow pace of change, and the deeply ingrained prejudices. I’m glad I read it, as I enjoyed getting a glimpse (for what it’s worth) into that time/society, but I wasn’t particularly crazy about it. 

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