Monday, July 23, 2012

Personal Realities - A Passage to India

Why the interest in India? For Forster the interest was highly personal. Forster was a homosexual and it was his love affair with an Indian, Syed Ross Massood, a long and turbulent affair, which opened his eyes to India. The novel is dedicated to Massood and is, partly at least, an attempt to come to terms with that relationship through its exploration of Anglo-Indian friendship. Massood died in 1923, when Forster was working on the novel, and inevitably his thoughts and feelings regarding the relationship worked themselves into the novel's characterisation, its imagery, and its treatment of personal relationships. It certainly explains a great deal about the characterisation of Aziz and the narrative's attempt to see events from Aziz's point of view. In part also Forster's treatment of inter-racial friendship draws upon his other affairs, most notably with Mohammed, whom Forster had first met in Alexandria in 1917. Throughout his novels Forster explores ways in which the barriers - of race, of class, of age and gender - can be broken down or even transcended. In Howards End, for example, the novel's insistence on the need to connect("only connect") permeates the exploration of the various friendships, and Forster's other Edwardian narratives continue this in their presentation of Anglo-Italian relationships, or in the friendships which cross the barriers of class. As a liberal novelist Forster is determined to explore these friendships from all perspectives, from a variety of points of view.

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