The Classics Reclamation Project is my personal challenge to read and enjoy the classics. Each Wednesday, I post about the classic I’m reading at the moment.
My current classic is A Passage to India by E.M. Forster. I’m listening to the 1924 novel, read by Sam Dastor. I’m only on disc 2 of 9, so I still have a way to go. So far, the story is interesting and the narrator is quite good. He does all the British and Indian accents, which makes the recording engaging.
Thus far, A Passage to India is essentially about the relationship between Britain and India in an India still under British rule. It’s set in fictional Chandrapore, India, in a community including citizens of both nationalities in close contact with one another. There is Dr. Aziz, a Muslim physician; several of his friends; Mrs. Moore, an elderly British woman visiting her son, Ronnie; Adela Quested, a potential bride for Ronnie; Fielding, the British headmaster of a local college; and many others. The scenes so far have mostly taken place in social settings: at parties, during social calls, and the like. The characters view one another with a wide range of reactions, from geniality to curiosity to disdain, so Forster has plenty to explore. Not much has happened so far, though I expect that to change.
As I began listening to A Passage to India, I found myself wondering why Forster had chosen to write about India. Had he traveled there? Was the book based somehow on his life, or did it come from his imagination? I headed over to my favorite quick reference source–Wikipedia–to find out.
The first thing I learned was that even though he lived until 1970, Forster didn’t publish any novels after A Passage in India in 1924 (Maurice was published posthumously, in 1971). He spent time in India on two separate occasions. The first was while traveling. The second was as the private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas in the early 1920s. I also learned Forster wrote a nonfiction account of his time in India called The Hill of Devi, which I’m now interested in reading!
In college I read Howards End, the only other Forster I’ve ever encountered. I remember liking it, though I’m hazy on the details. It’s still early to tell whether I’ll like A Passage to India, but so far, so good. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes.