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"Such a rewarding choice"
A marvellous reading of a favourite book. The narrator brings the many different characters - Indian, English and Anglo-Indian; Hindu, Muslim, Christian and atheist- vividly to life. I had forgotten how very interesting,moving and funny this book is.
"India is not a drawing room....."
Here’s another one that I first read as part of my degree just about thirty years ago, that has again only improved with age and expanded context. I’ve always enjoyed Forster as ‘comfort reading’ and his novels are the ones that I turn to again and again with Hardy and Maugham.
The strongest impression on this re-reading, is what a terrible state Imperialist Britain was - and what an awful set of people it put in place and maintained. Forster’s observations are very sharp and well defined. The critics now seem to set up the homosexual sensitivity against the feminist perspective and modern reviewers are always drawn to observe that the women portrayed in India come out particularly badly. However, there is absolute consistency in Forster’s observations on the dreadful male characters - all ‘of a sort’ but with a real insight which was ahead of its time.
The notion that “all of the uprisings in colonial India have the linking theme which one can only attribute to the Jews” is particularly execrable - and one which came leaping out of the page on this reading.
I loved the book but hated the sentiments it portrayed - and given that Forster was writing in 1924 whilst maintaining a seat at the heart of the Establishment is his really wonderful achievement. It is a book that needs to be read when young and must be enjoyed when older - one of the best achievements of English literature and deservedly part of the central cannon.
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