Edward Morgan Forster was the only child of Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster who was an architect by profession and Alice Clara Lily. He was born in January 1879 in London. Both his parents died in his childhood leaving him with a legacy of 8000 Pounds. This money helped him in his livelihood and enabled him to follow his ambition of becoming a writer. His schooling was done at Tonbridge School in Kent where the theater got named after him. He attended Cambridge University where his intellect was well groomed and he was exposed to the Mediterranean culture which was much freer in comparison to the more unbending English way of life. After graduating he started his career as a writer; his novels being about the varying social circumstances of that time. In his first novel ‘Where Angels Fear to Tread’, which was published in 1905, he showed his concern that people needed to stay in close contact with their roots. The same pattern of theme was followed in ‘The Longest Journey’ (1907) and ‘Howards End’ (1910) which is a motivating story about two sisters Margaret and Helen who live in a house called Howards End. Margaret marries Henry Wilcox, a businessman and brings him back to Howards End. Howards End was the first successful novel by Forster. He also wrote a comic novel named ‘A Room with a View’ in 1908. This was the most optimistic of all his novels and was also made into a film in 1985.
In 1911 Forster also published several short stories with a rustic and unpredictable writing tone. These include ‘The Celestial Omnibus’ and ‘The Eternal Moment’. During 1912 and 1913 he traveled to India with his close friend Syed Ross Masood. His novel ‘Maurice’ was written in 1913; its subject matter revolved around a homosexual theme as he himself was a non declared homosexual. However this book was published after his death nearly sixty years after he wrote it. Many of his books had a similar theme but this one did raise suspicions as his sexuality was not open to the public. Forster visited India again in the early 1920s where he was the private secretary to Tukojirao III, the Maharajah of Dewas. In his novel ‘The Hill of Devi’ he tells a non-fictional version of his trip. His book ‘A Passage to India’ was published in 1924 receiving great appreciation. Forster was also awarded the ‘James Tait Black Memorial Prize’ following this successful novel.
Apart from homosexuality, another notable factor in Forster’s writing is symbolism as a technique and mysticism. In his book ‘Howards End’ there is a certain tree and in ‘A Passage to India’ the characters have this ability to connect to unknown people.
He also wrote for many magazines like ‘The Athenaeum’. He was against filming books. In his opinion a film or stage performance did not do justice to a literary piece of work. Despite that many of his works were adapted to films which were highly praised. In 1946 Forster was voted as an honorary ‘Fellow’ of King’s College. He was presented knighthood in 1949; an offer he declined. He was made a ‘Companion of Honor’ in 1953 and in 1969 a member of the ‘Order of Merit’. Forster continued to write till his death on 7th June 1970 due to a stroke.
E M Forster
English academic, critic and novelist
Forster wrote about his Humanism in a famous essay entitled What I Believe. He was a Vice-President of the Ethical Union in the 1950s, and a member of the Advisory Council of Humanists UK from its foundation in 1963.
His work and viewpoint were summed up in a series on British Authors (Cambridge University Press) as:
“the voice of the humanist – one seriously committed to human values while refusing to take himself too seriously. Its tone is inquiring, not dogmatic. It reflects a mind aware of the complexities confronting those who wish to live spiritually satisfying, morally responsible lives in a world that increasingly militates against individual’s needs. Sensitively and often profoundly, Forster’s fiction explores the problems such people encounter.”
E M Forster is one of the greatest of British twentieth-century novelists, his well known novels including A Passage to India, Howard’s End and A Room with a View. His open-minded and humanist view of life is seen in his novels in their focus on human relationships and the need for tolerance, sympathy and love between individual human beings from different parts of society and different cultures. He shared many ideas with, and was friendly with, members of the Bloomsbury Group. Several of his novels have been made into successful films which you may have seen. He wrote and spoke in favour of tolerance in many areas of life, and he vigorously opposed censorship. He was President of the National Council for Civil Liberties (now known as Liberty). Forster called himself a humanist, and was President of the Cambridge Humanists from 1959 to his death. He was a Vice-President of the Ethical Union in the 1950s, and a member of the Advisory Council of Humanists UK from its foundation in 1963.
In What I Believe he wrote:
“I do not believe in Belief. But this is an Age of Faith, and there are so many militant creeds that, in self defence, one has to formulate a creed of one’s own. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy are no longer enough in a world where ignorance rules, and Science, which ought to have ruled, plays the pimp. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy – they are what matter really, and if the human race is not to collapse they must come to the front before long.”
After an unhappy conventional middle-class upbringing and public school education, Forster found the intellectual freedom of Cambridge, where he spent much of the rest of his life, liberating; he began to question religious belief while a student there. After reading Lowes Dickinson’s The Meaning of Good(which replaced God with Good, an influential idea at the turn of the century) he walked down King’s Parade declaring, ”You shall never take away from me my meaning of Good.” This underpinned his humanist view that it is possible to be good without a belief in a god.
His travels in Italy were another liberating experience and are reflected in two of early novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread and A Room with a View. He wrote: “Italy is a beautiful place where they say ‘Yes’ and the place where things happen.” This openness contrasted with the narrow-minded attitudes of the British middle-class. Another early novel was The Longest Journey. This was more personal and drew on his own experiences at school and university. The main character has a club-foot – a symbol for people who are different from the norm but have the right, nevertheless, to be treated equally.
Forster’s two masterpieces are A Passage to India and Howard’s End. The latter is prefaced with the phrase “Only connect”. It is about the need for two parts of society – the intellectual and cultural, and the commercial, to meet and understand each other. He writes not only about the need for society to be interlinked as a whole, but of the need for individuals to “connect the prose and the passion”, to link their rational and emotional sides. A Passage to India arose from his friendship with individual Indians and from his visits to India. During one, he became private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas – but he wanted to know Indian people and life rather than the tea parties and bridge games of the British people living in India. In the main character, Dr Aziz, Forster brilliantly creates a character from a different civilisation from his own. At that time, India was ruled as a part of the British Empire. Forster felt deeply that this situation prevented the Indians and British from being true friends. The novel ends with one of the main characters, the Englishman Fielding, saying to Aziz, “Why can’t we be friends now? … It’s what I want. It’s what you want.” It is said that this novel played an important part in changing attitudes in Britain, and thus helped the movement towards Indian independence.
Forster was gay. He fell in love with Muhammad, a bus conductor, while working for the Red Cross in Cairo during the First World War. Later, after Muhammad’s death from tuberculosis (TB), he fell in love with a policeman with whom he had a close relationship for the remainder of his life. He wrote a novel,Maurice, depicting the problems of gay men at a time when homosexuality was illegal. He decided it should not be published until after his death, and he did not reveal his homosexuality publicly during his lifetime.
Passage to India Review
E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India was written at a time when the end of the British colonial presence in India was becoming a very real possibility. The novel now stands in the canon of English literature as one of the truly great discussions of that colonial presence. But, the novel also demonstrates how friendships attempt (though often failing) to span the gap between the English colonizer and the Indian colonized.
Written as a precise mixture between a realistic and recognizable setting and a mystical tone, A Passage to India shows its author as both an excellent stylist as well as a perceptive and acute judge of human character.
The main incident of the novel is the accusation by an English woman that an Indian doctor followed her into a cave and attempted to rape her. Doctor Aziz (the accused man) is a respected member of the Muslim community in India. Like many people of his social class, his relationship with the British administration is somewhat ambivalent. He sees most of the British as enormously rude, so he is pleased and flattered when an English woman, Mrs. Moore, attempts to befriend him.
Fielding also becomes a friend, and he is the only English person who attempts to help him after the accusation is made. Despite Fielding’s help, Aziz is constantly worried that Fielding will somehow betray him). The two part ways and then meet many years later. Forster suggests that the two can never really be friends until the English withdraw from India.
Wrongs of Colonization
A Passage to India is a searing portrayal of the English mismanagement of India, as well as an accusatory missal against many of the racist attitudes the English colonial administration held. The novel explores the many rights and wrongs of Empire and the way in which the native Indian population was oppressed by the English administration.
With the exception of Fielding, none of the English believe in Aziz’s innocence. The head of the police believes that the Indian character is inherently flawed by an ingrained criminality. There appears to be little doubt that Aziz will be found guilty because the word of an English woman is believed over the word of an Indian.
Beyond his concern for British colonization, Forster is even more concerned with the right and wrong of human interactions. A Passage to India is about friendship. The friendship between Aziz and his English friend, Mrs. Moore, begins in almost mystical circumstances. They meet at a Mosque as the light is fading, and they discover a common bond.
Such friendships cannot last in the heat of the Indian sun nor under the auspices of the British Empire. Forster ushers us into the minds of the characters with his stream-of-consciousness style. We begin to understand the missed meanings, the failure to connect. Ultimately, we begin to see how these characters are kept apart.
A Passage to India is a marvelously written, marvelously sad novel. The novel emotively and naturally recreates the Raj in India and offers insight into how the Empire was run. Ultimately, though, it’s a tale of powerlessness and alienation. Even friendship and the attempt to connect fails.
A Passage to India Book Review
A Passage to India (1924) is a novel by E. M. Forster set against the setting of the British Raj and the Indian Independence Movement in the 1920s. It was considered as one of the 100 great works of English literature by the Modern Library and won the 1924 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. Time magazine included the novel in its “TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005”
The story centers around four characters: Dr. Aziz, his British friend Cyril Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Adela Quested. During a tour to the Marabar Caves (modeled on the Barabar Caves of Bihar), Adela blames Aziz of attempting to assault her. Aziz’s trial, and its run-up and consequences, draw out all the racial tensions and prejudices between indigenous Indians and the British colonists who rule India. In A Passage to India, Forster employs his first-hand knowledge of India.
Foster started writing A Passage to India in 1913 just after his first visit to India. The novel was not revised and completed, however, well until after his second stay in India in 1921 when he served as Secretary to the Maharaja of the Dewas State Senior. Published in 1924, A Passage to India examines the racial misunderstandings and cultural hypocrisy that characterized the complex interactions between Indians and the English toward the end of the British occupation of India.
This book defiantly would be a brilliant choice for those who are keenly interested in Indian history and culture.
A Passage to India Summary
Dr. Aziz had been doubly snubbed that evening. He had been summoned to the Civil Surgeon’s house while he was taking his supper. When he arrived at the Civil Surgeon’s house he found that his superior had gone to the club without bothering to leave any message. In addition, two English-women emerged from the house and departed in his hired tonga, without even thanking him.
The doctor started going back towards the city of Chandrapore on foot. He was tired and he stopped at a mosque to rest. He was furious when he saw an English woman emerge from behind its pillars with her shoes on as he thought. Mrs. Moore, however, had come barefoot to the mosque. Finding her to be decent and friendly, Dr. Aziz engaged with her in conversation. .
Mrs. Moore had newly arrived from England to visit her son, Ronny Heaslop, the City Magistrate. Dr. Aziz found that they had common ground when he learned that she did not care for the Civil surgeon’s wife. Her disclosure prompted him to toll her about the usurpation of his carriage. The Doctor walked back to the club with her. As an Indian, he could not be admitted.
At the club, Adela, Ronny Heaslop’s prospective fiancée declared that she wanted to see the real India, not the India which came to through the rarified atmosphere of the British colony. To please ladies, one of the members offered to hold, what he whimsically termed, a bridge party and to invite some native guests.
The bridge party was a miserable affair. The Indians retreated one side of the lawn and although the conspicuously reluctant of British ladies went over to visit the natives, an awkward prevailed.
There was, however, one promising result of the party. The Principal of the Government College, Mr. Fielding, a man, who apparently felt neither rancour nor arrogance towards the Indians, invited Mrs. Moore and Adela to a tea party at his house. Upon Adela’s act Mr. Fielding also invited Professor Godbole, a teacher at his school, and Dr. Aziz.
At the tea, Dr. Aziz charmed Fielding and the guests with the elegance and fine intensity of his manners. But the gathering broke up on a discordant note when the priggish and suspicious Ronny Heaslop .chastised Fielding for leaving Adela, his fiancée, alone with Aziz and Godbole. :
Adela, irritated by Heaslop’s callous behaviour, informed him that she did not intend marrying him, but before the evening was over she had changed her mind. During the course of a drive in the Indian countryside, a mysterious figure, perhaps that of an animal, loomed out of the dark and nearly upset the car in which they were riding. Their mutual loneliness and a feeling of the unknown drew them together and Adela asked Ronny to disregard her earlier refusal.
The one extraordinary thing about the city of Chandrapore was a phenomenon of nature known as the Marabar Caves located several miles outside the city. Mrs. Moore and Adela accepted the offer of Dr. Aziz to escort them to the caves; but the visit proved catastrophic for all. Entering in one of the caves, Mrs. Moore realized that no matter what was said the walls returned only a prolonged, booming and hollow echo.
Pondering over that echo while she rested, and pondering over the distance that separated her from Dr. Aziz and Adela and from her own children, Mrs. Moore saw that all her Christianity, all her ideals of moral good and bad, in short, all her ideals of life amounted only to what was made of them by the hollow and booming echo of the Marabar Caves.
Adela entered one of the caves alone. A few minutes later she rushed out terrified; saying that she had been nearly attacked in the gloom. Dr. Aziz, the doctor was arrested.
There had always been a clear division between the natives and the British ruling community, but as the trial of Dr. Aziz drew nearer, each group demanded strict loyalty. When Mrs. Moore told her son that she was sure that Dr. Aziz was not capable of the alleged crime he advised her to go back to England. And when Fielding expressed an identical opinion at the club, he was promptly ostracized.
The tension which marked the opening of the trial had a great affect on all concerned. The first sensational incident occurred when one of Dr. Aziz’s friends rushed into the court room and shouted that Ronny Heaslop had smuggled his mother out of the country because she would have testified to the Doctor’s innocence. When restless Indian spectators heard the name of Mrs. Moore, they worked it into a kind of chant as though she had become a deity. The English colony was not to learn, until later, that Mrs. Moore had already died, aboard the ship.
The second incident concluded the trial. It was Adela’s testimony. The effect of the tense atmosphere of the court-room, the reiteration of Mrs. Moore’s name, and the continued presence of a buzzing sound in her ears since the time she left the caves, produced a trance-like effect upon Adela. Under the interrogation of the prosecuting attorney, she recollected the events at the caves. When she reached the moment of her lingering in the cave, she faltered, suddenly changed her mind and withdrew all charges.
After the conclusion of the trial, Chandrapore remained a bedlam for several hours. The Britishers sulked while the Indians excluded. AS for Adela, so far as British India was concerned she had crossed the line. Ronny Heaslop carefully explained that he could no longer associated with her. After accepting Fielding’s hospitality for a weeks, she returned home. In spite of Dr. Aziz’s increased antipathy to the Britishers, Fielding persuaded him not to press Adela for legal damages.
Two years later, Dr. Aziz became the court physician of an aged Hindu potentate who died on the night of the Krishna festival. The feast was a frantic celebration and the whole town was under spell when Fielding arrived on an official visit. Fielding had got married and Dr. Aziz assuming he had married Adela Quested, avoided his old friend. When he ran into him accidentally, however, he was Mrs. Moore’s daughter Stella, whom Fielding had married. The Doctor felt more embarrassed at his mistake.
The rape that never was: Forster and ‘A Passage to India’
E.M. Forster died 50 years ago, at the age of 91 on June 7, 1970. But it feels that he has been gone for much longer, because the last novel he published in his lifetime was nearly 100 years ago — A Passage to India, in 1924. His long terminal silence was in stark contrast to the brisk fecundity with which he had begun, publishing four novels in the five years between 1905 and 1910.
These included The Longest Journey, an autobiographical novel about his student days of long walks and longer idealistic discussions at King’s College, Cambridge, and a state-of-England novel, Howard’s End, about the class question and the issue of materialist versus spiritual inheritance. In between came his two ‘Italian’ novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread and A Room with a View, in which young English ladies on reaching that fabled country promptly throw their primness to the winds and begin behaving in erotic Mediterranean ways.
It is A Passage to India, however, which remains Forster’s undoubted masterpiece, a modern classic that regularly ranks high in every poll of the 100 Best Novels on both sides of the Atlantic. It has a special appeal for us in India for it is probably the best novel ever written about the country by an Englishman. Together with half a dozen short stories by Rudyard Kipling and his poetic peripatetic saga Kim (1901) depicting an earlier era, Forster’s novel remains an enduring literary monument of the 200 years of British rule in India. It preserves for us human feelings and attitudes from that fraught period as only literature can.
The story of A Passage to India hinges on a rape that never was. A white young woman accuses a charming Indian Muslim doctor of having assaulted her in a dark cave during a picnic, but at the trial of the accused a few weeks later, she goes to the witness box and says she cannot be sure and is withdrawing all charges.
The pukka sahebs for whom she has become a rallying point of racial honour lose face and the impassioned Indians milling around the court are jubilant as Dr. Aziz walks free. The heroically honest young lady, Adela Quested, is obliged to slink quietly back to England and be left on the shelf, instead of marrying the City Magistrate which she had come out to India to do.
Forster here boldly reverses many Raj stereotypes. The race-and-rape narrative had been common in English novels about India ever since the “Mutiny” of 1857 when several such incidents were believed to have happened. The trope of an oppressed ill-treated native raping a woman of the master race in a token act of revenge for the greater crime of the coloniser having raped his country had been inaugurated in English literature by Shakespeare in The Tempest (1611).
In this play, the last that Shakespeare wrote, the dispossessed and enslaved native Caliban is accused of raping the usurper Prospero’s virginal daughter Miranda, to which he retorts that he wishes he had actually raped her and populated the island with many little Calibans! In a variation on the theme, white women living in tropical colonies sometimes half-wishfully fantasised that they had been raped by a native. Many strands of this potent colonial situation are brought to bear by Forster on the episode in his novel.
But then he raises the stakes even higher. He chooses as the venue for the non-rape the Marabar Caves, modelled on the Barabar Caves near Bodh Gaya, the oldest known rock-cut caves in India that have a religious significance encompassing Buddhist, Jain and Hindu beliefs. They are described by Forster as being primal, in being bereft of all carving or sculpture (though one of them, the Lomas Rishi Cave, has in fact a highly ornate entrance). In the novel, the caves generate a bewildering echo which does not return the original human sound but each time utters “Boum!” — which may sound close to “Om” but is deliberately a negation of that pious expectation.
It is within such an elemental womb of resounding nullity that Adela Quested believes an Indian man followed her and attempted to assault her.
As the manuscript reveals, Forster wrote and rewrote this episode many times, apparently because he had no clear idea of what he wanted to happen in the cave, except that he wished this key event to have some large philosophical import. He wanted it to be a “mystery” but it seemed to have turned into a “muddle,” two terms that Forster himself used interchangeably. In an instance of the mimetic fallacy, Forster seems to have thought that if India was a muddle, it had best be represented in a muddled way.
When the novel came out and an old Cambridge friend wrote to ask what exactly happened in the cave, Forster just muddied the waters more: “In the caves it is either a man, or the supernatural, or an illusion. And even if I know!” Perhaps his difficulty here was that he could not abruptly turn symbolic in the middle of a novel which he had written throughout in the comic-ironic mode. A brief abstinence from narratorial omniscience could not all of a sudden raise the comic to the cosmic.
Another inconsistency or fissure in the novel is caused by the fact that Forster had begun writing it in 1912 but finished it only in 1924. Meanwhile, a World War had been fought in Europe and the political situation in India had undergone a sea change. The draconian Rowlatt Act had been passed and unarmed protesters against it had been massacred in Jallianwala Bagh in 1919. The following year, Gandhi had launched the nationwide Non-cooperation Movement which had mobilised the entire nation. None of this is reflected in the novel (except for a single allusion to the “crawling order” in Amritsar), so that when the novel was published in June 1924, it already seemed outdated and politically sanitised. Forster may not have known this but just a few months later, in January 1925, Premchand would publish his epic novel of Gandhian nationalism, Rangabhumi.
There are other things here, however, that Forster gets brilliantly right. As Adela walks up the hill with Aziz in a haze of mounting heat and makes desultory conversation with him about his marriage and wife, her subconscious mind is occupied with the vexing question of whether she herself loves the man she is planning to marry. It may not be quite the stream-of-consciousness method that Forster’s Bloomsbury friend Virginia Woolf practised but it is an eddy of Adela’s covert emotional turmoil that the hapless Aziz is sucked into.
Aziz himself is portrayed as a hugely charming but volatile and sentimental man. He obsesses about past Muslim glory when the Mughal emperors ruled the land. His hero among them is not Akbar, whom he calls “half a Hindu,” but Alamgir (i.e., Aurangzeb) who was firm of faith. Later, the Brahmin Godbole (“sweet of speech”) finds Aziz a job in a Hindu princely state safely away from British India, where Aziz, as his ally, is regarded as a Brahmin too and the two “often joke about it together”.
Forster gave up writing novels after A Passage to India because, as a homosexual, he said he had lost interest in love between man and woman which is the staple theme of the English novel. (Of his five man-woman novels, three feature broken engagements.) His one homosexual novel, Maurice, which he wrote in 1913 while A Passage to India hung fire, was published posthumously in 1971. Meanwhile, he had abandoned or burnt several other pieces of such furtive fiction.
Another vein of writing which he gave up no sooner than trying it out was science fiction. In his dystopian short story, ‘The Machine Stops’ (1909), each person lives deep below the surface of the earth in stark “isolation” in a cell, all communication is by “pneumatic mail” or by a Skype-like device, and there is a Book of the Machine which each person swears by and worships. Until, of course, the Machine stops and almost everyone perishes as they try to scramble up to the natural surface of the earth. (But there is no pandemic; just a Big Brother dehumanised into a Machine.)
The less Forster published in his last decades, the more his fame grew. He became in particular the patron saint of aspiring Indian writers in English including Mulk Raj Anand (whom he once called “Mulk of cow” in mild exasperation), Raja Rao and Ahmed Ali, all of whom he helped find publishers in England. In those pre-postcolonial times, Forster had mocked Indian nationalist aspirations even on the last page of A Passage to India (“India a nation!”), and he seemed to think of “politics” as a dirty word. But his own goodness and faith in personal relationships made him an icon of the Liberal humanism that he had grown up with, and privately he continued to swear by “the secret understanding of the heart”.
PART I: MOSQUE
Except for the Marabar Caves—and they are twenty miles off—the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary. Edged rather than washed by the river Ganges, it trails for a couple of miles along the bank, scarcely distinguishable from the rubbish it deposits so freely. There are no bathing-steps on the river front, as the Ganges happens not to be holy here; indeed there is no river front, and bazaars shut out the wide and shifting panorama of the stream. The streets are mean, the temples ineffective, and though a few fine houses exist they are hidden away in gardens or down alleys whose filth deters all but the invited guest. Chandrapore was never large or beautiful, but two hundred years ago it lay on the road between Upper India, then imperial, and the sea, and the fine houses date from that period. The zest for decoration stopped in the eighteenth century, nor was it ever democratic. There is no painting and scarcely any carving in the bazaars. The very wood seems made of mud, the inhabitants of mud moving. So abased, so monotonous is everything that meets the eye, that when the Ganges comes down it might be expected to wash the excrescence back into the soil. Houses do fall, people are drowned and left rotting, but the general outline of the town persists, swelling here, shrinking there, like some low but indestructible form of life.
Inland, the prospect alters. There is an oval Maidan, and a long sallow hospital. Houses belonging to Eurasians stand on the high ground by the railway station. Beyond the railway—which runs parallel to the river—the land sinks, then rises again rather steeply. On the second rise is laid out the little civil station, and viewed hence Chandrapore appears to be a totally different place. It is a city of gardens. It is no city, but a forest sparsely scattered with huts. It is a tropical pleasaunce washed by a noble river. The toddy palms and neem trees and mangoes and pepul that were hidden behind the bazaars now become visible and in their turn hide the bazaars. They rise from the gardens where ancient tanks nourish them, they burst out of stifling purlieus and unconsidered temples. Seeking, light and air, and endowed with more strength than man or his works, they soar above the lower deposit to greet one another with branches and beckoning leaves, and to build a city for the birds. Especially after the rains do they screen what passes below, but at all times, even when scorched or leafless, they glorify the city to the English people who inhabit the rise, so that new-comers cannot believe it to be as meagre as it is described, and have to be driven down to acquire disillusionment. As for the civil station itself, it provokes no emotion. It charms not, neither does it repel. It is sensibly planned, with a red-brick club on its brow, and farther back a grocer’s and a cemetery, and the bungalows are disposed along roads that intersect at right angles. It has nothing hideous in it, and only the view is beautiful; it shares nothing with the city except the overarching sky.
The sky too has its changes, but they are less marked than those of the vegetation and the river. Clouds map it up at times, but it is normally a dome of blending tints, and the main tint blue. By day the blue will pale down into white where it touches the white of the land, after sunset it has a new circumference—orange, melting upwards into tenderest purple. But the core of blue persists, and so it is by night. Then the stars hang like lamps from the immense vault. The distance between the vault and them is as nothing to the distance behind them, and that farther distance, though beyond colour, last freed itself from blue.
The sky settles everything—not only climates and seasons but when the earth shall be beautiful. By herself she can do little—only feeble outbursts of flowers. But when the sky chooses, glory can rain into the Chandrapore bazaars or a benediction pass from horizon to horizon. The sky can do this because it is so strong and so enormous. Strength comes from the sun, infused in it daily, size from the prostrate earth. No mountains infringe on the curve. League after league the earth lies flat, heaves a little, is flat again. Only in the south, where a group of fists and fingers are thrust up through the soil, is the endless expanse interrupted. These fists and fingers are the Marabar Hills, containing the extraordinary caves.
A Passage to India – Waris Hussein (1965)
A Passage to India – David Lean (1984)