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A Passage to India

Narrated by: Sam Dastor
Length: 11 hrs and 3 mins
4 out of 5 stars (497 ratings)

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Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Dr. Aziz is a young Muslim physician in the British Indian town of Chandrapore. One evening he comes across an English woman, Mrs. Moore, in the courtyard of a local mosque; she and her younger travelling companion Adela are disappointed by claustrophobic British colonial culture and wish to see something of the 'real' India. But when Aziz kindly offers to take them on a tour of the Marabar caves with his close friend Cyril Fielding, the trip results in a shocking accusation that throws Chandrapore into a fever of racial tension.

Set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s it deals with the common racial tensions and prejudices between Indians and the British who ruled India.

Many of Forster's novels observed class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society including A Passage to India, the novel which brought him his greatest success. A secular humanist, Forster showed concern for social, political, and spiritual divisions in the world.

Time magazine included A Passage to India in its All-Time 100 Novels list and it was selected as one of the 100 great works of 20th century English literature by the Modern Library.

Directed by David Lean, a film adaptation was released in 1984 that won numerous awards including two Oscars.

Narrator Biography

A Cambridge graduate who trained at RADA under the direction of Sir Laurence Olivier, Sam Dastor has long featured on screen and stage. He is best known for The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) and for twice portraying Gandhi in both Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy (1986), and Jinnah (1998).

Sam Dastor has starred in many West End productions with roles such as Ariel in The Tempest, and Orlando in As You Like It. His most recent work has included starring on stage at the Wolsey Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2016). He has narrated a large catalogue of audiobooks including V.S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"[Narrator Sam] Dastor's performance is outstanding. A huge cast of characters of all classes and nationalities comes vibrantly alive as he takes the voice of each.... His eloquent reading transforms into powerful performance literature." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful masterpiece

I read this immediately after Room with a View and could see how Forster developed between the two. Both are brilliant but this is mesmerising. The performance by San Dastor is the best I have heard in an audio book and I've listened to very many.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • T
  • 01-03-15

Amazing

I can't believe it's taken me this long! It is an exceptional book. That being said, I could not have fully appreciated had I been any younger.
It is so well written, really gets into the complexities and emotions of people. Even characters you don't like much are three dimensional so you can see their point of view- even if you don't agree with them. For such a large book not much happens- but the words are so wonderful it doesn't matter. A brilliant performance- so well read. I can't praise it enough and will go on to read more of EM Forster.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Excellent presentation

A challenging novel, superbly narrated. Great writing brought to life with skill and sensitivity. Highly recommended.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Poignant in this 70th anniversary of partition

Wonderfully performed by Sam Dastor, with what sounded to my non-Indian ears like a convincing array of different accents and characterisations.

The book intertwines the political and the intimate in a masterly way, and ends with a suitably ambivalent take on race relations and imperial domination.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, some poor quality recording

Good story and performance, let down by some fuzzy recording quality here and there. Very noticeable through headphones. If you're listening on speakers it's less noticeable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unafraid lucid and humorous

I wish I had discovered this writer many years ago, this story is so fresh and captivating and relevant. Who'dve guessed.....you maybe, I wasn't expecting such a lucid perspective on the British in India thing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Don't overlook an older book...

What did you like most about A Passage to India?

A not unsympathetic colonial perspective on India that shows how attitudes were not always as prejudiced as we may imagine whilst reminding us of the worst facets of British colonial racism.

What about Sam Dastor’s performance did you like?

His extraordinary ability to range between Indian and British accents

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definitely!

Any additional comments?

I imagined this would have been a lot fustier than it was.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant

Brilliant book that gives a subtle insight into India and even better performance by Sam Dastor!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Rochelle
  • 02-01-14

Poor sound quality

There is a problem with the sound quality on this version of the book. It begins in chapter 2 & is very intrusive. I'd advise bypassing this version until Audible can get a quality recording.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Diane
  • 02-06-11

Extraordinary!!

There's a reason why books are classics. To quote Wikipedia, "A Passage to India" "was selected as [25th] of the 100 great works of English literature by the Modern Library and ...Time magazine included the novel in its...100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005." It's a novel inextricably bound up in the time and place of colonial India, yet absolutely timeless in its compassionate insights into the human character. The meaning of the title may be understood on many different levels. The skillful narration enriches the listening experience. I would give this book 10 stars if I could--it stands in a category by itself. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

30 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Vee
  • 28-04-11

First audio book. A Passage to India.

This audio book has lived up to my expectation for it. I had found it a difficult book to read so have enjoyed the experience of having it read to me. Sam Dastor does an amazing job of reading all the different characters.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Susan
  • 28-12-09

Transported

As with all EM Forsters works, the language and descriptions took me to another time and place. Whilst some of the reading was a little too heavily accented to be pleasant listening the reading style in general was perfect, languid where necessary, excited as needed to convey this wonderful novel. The underlying political message was not lost.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs. Tj Stipinovich
  • 20-11-17

Excellent performance

I thought Sam Dastor did the most wonderful job as narrator of this epic novel. He brought the characters to life, male and female, Indian and British, with such effortless charm. I felt as if I could see them standing before me they were so vivid. Just magnificent - I was totally gripped.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • LauraRose
  • 06-06-14

A Bit Ponderous; Enjoyable Enough and Educational

I think if I had tried to read this book in print, I would not have gotten very far, or I would have glossed over many parts, which are actually a significant part of the education, while searching for the evasive plot-line. Luckily, it was well enough narrated that I was kept relatively attentive throughout. I learned quite a bit about the time period and situations of British Rule and the emergence of self-identity in the ever diverse world of India during the early 20th century. I'm sure E.M. Forster would agree that no one book can cover even all of a small portion of Indian life and history thoroughly, but this was an enjoyable enough start.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alisa
  • 30-05-12

Compelling Story and Reading

What made the experience of listening to A Passage to India the most enjoyable?

Quintessential modernist text--Forester deals artfully with British colonialism in India, managing to paint both the Indians and the English sympathetically. Most of the characters are full and dynamic. Anchoring the story in the friendship of Mrs. Moore (an elderly woman) and Dr. Aziz (a widower) begins the story's exploration of the power of relationships and the difficulty of forming and sustaining "intimate" relationships. A Passage to India is a moving story the lure of power and about the difficulty of knowing another.

What other book might you compare A Passage to India to and why?

Howard's End--just another excellent Forster text, dealing with some of the same issues of disconnectedness.

Which scene was your favorite?

When Aziz first met Mrs. Moore.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A quest for identity set in the heat and beauty of India...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 19-03-19

Portrait of an Empire in Decline

I was not terribly enthusiastic about diving into this novel as I had just finished Rudyard Kipling's Kim which also was set in India. But, as it was next on my list from the Modern Library Top 100 and it did provide the perspective from a different era I pushed on despite my misgivings. I am glad I did.

Kim was penned by an author who sincerely loved the British Empire and the important role it played as colonizer of India. Though Kipling loved India he sincerely viewed it as a net plus to its colonies.

Forster takes a wholly different views, seeing the classism and racism endemic in colonization. As Indians make every attempt to be liked and accepted by their English colonizers, the English who find themselves relegated to the an imperial backwater vent their resentment against the masses they are trying to govern. This inevitably leads to conflict.

Originally published in 1924, the novel ultimately reveals the tension and duel disdain and distrust both the English and Indian feel towards each other exacerbated when a respected Muslim Indian doctor finds himself accused and tried for an assault against an English woman. The case finds itself on the forefront of a growing desire for Indian self governance and the desperate intent of England to maintain its hold on the subcontinent. It does prove prophetic as those forces of independence patiently await the time when England no longer has the resources or will to dominate India.

A phenomenal novel and a wonderful preview of what to expect from the other E.M. Forster works on my very long list of future reads.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Martin
  • 29-05-12

A Classic Spoiled

E. M. Forster's haunting masterpiece is given a poor performance here.

The passages of narration are fine, but character voices are exaggerated to the point of caricature. It is impossible to take them seriously. Yet this is the antithesis of the wonderfully "round" characterization at which Forster so excelled.

Find another performance or read the book in print rather than listening to this version.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • 12-01-12

Bad accent

What didn’t you like about Sam Dastor’s performance?

The narrator's heavy Indian accent that he applied to the various characters was VERY hard to understand. For that reason I didn't finish the book

8 of 11 people found this review helpful