21 responses

  1. kathy peck leeds
    June 28, 2011

    I LOVED this book. Going to download it to my IPAD to read again for my summer travels. Undoubtedly, my favorite Forster novel.
    I enjoy your father’s posts very much. He must be such a lovely man.

  2. Kelly
    June 28, 2011

    Forster has sat on my shelf for several years, still unread. Professor C’s series has made me think that it might be time to remedy that. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jane and Lance Hattatt
    June 28, 2011

    Hello Lisa:
    This is a most interesting post. Forster for us remains one of the greatest English novelists of his time. We shouldprobably place ‘Howard’s End’ over ‘A Passage to India’ and whilst we enjoyed the films of both, we feel that they in no way equal the novels themselves.

    May and Bob Buckingham, in whose house Forster died, we knew very well through a shared interest in music. Bob Buckingham, as you will know, was, of course, Forster’s lover.

  4. Susan Tiner
    June 28, 2011

    I have seen the film multiple times, and love it, but never read the book. Now I will! Thank you for another interesting review.

  5. The Preppy Princess
    June 28, 2011

    Thank you for sharing such stellar insight on all of this, weighty topics indeed. While I pretend to be confident in thoughts and assumptions, it is always nice to see affirmation; your comments about the film’s casting are very similar to mine. In fact, as much as I loved the film (and do love the score), I think I remain miffed about Alec Guinness in the lead. But then I remember economic realities and understand why he was selected for the role.

    This is a wonderful piece, I very much enjoyed it.

  6. Stephanie
    June 28, 2011

    I’ve read the book, but not seen the film. I think I’m tempted to do so now. And I absolutely love this series!

  7. Mary Jo
    June 28, 2011

    Thank you for this thoughtful insight into the film and all of it’s cultural implications. So many fabulous films from earlier times suffer from these kinds of casting catastrophes–even Breakfast at Tiffany’s, such a fun american classic is marred with one of the most offensive racist characterizations I have ever seen. I still love the movie even though I am part asian, but hope that in these more liberated times that film and people and will evolve past these missteps permanently.

  8. Staircase Witch
    June 28, 2011

    Thanks so much for this, Professor C. It was always my favorite Forster novel, and I admit to having kind of a blind spot for David Lean’s films, which are gorgeous but, I realize, can be rather imperialist in outlook. I was fourteen when the film came out, and it and Gandhi were my first real exposure to the history of colonialism. Having just downloaded a bundle of Forster novels on my Kindle a few weeks ago, I had decided to reread them in chronological order and will be revisiting Passage at some point in the not too distant future. Your post will give me new perspective–especially regarding the possibility that the love between Fielding and Aziz wasn’t entirely fraternal–that is now stunningly clear, thanks to you.

    What’s next? Another Forster book/movie pairing would be grand–there are so many from which to choose! But I look forward to anything you choose to take on.

  9. Duchesse
    June 28, 2011

    Thank you for your observations, and for placing your history within it. I would like to see the film re-made or adapted for the stage; so much could shift, now. When I spent time in India (in this decade), I found the remnants of the Raj seductive. I was not proud of that, and at times took, at other times refused, the sumptuous services offered for, to North American eyes, so little. At least I had the awareness not to call them “cheap”.

  10. Anonymous
    June 28, 2011

    Thank you for this thought-provoking, insightful post. Also, my thanks and respect to Professor C. I especially appreciate the mention of Gay Pride Week.

    You might enjoy reading GREAT SOUL, the recent biography of Gandi.

    Sorry for the caps in the title. I was unable to underscore.

  11. Flo
    June 29, 2011

    I learn so much from reading the Professor’s particular framing of thoughts, how he isolates issues amid the myriad choices available, then creates/follows tangents from and to, why this, why not that, then he builds. And his daughter is this SAME kind of rich thinker, broad dexterity and command of language, it’s always an inspiration to observe this secondary [primary?] level at work, separate from yet bound to the subject matter. So inspiring. Thank you Professor and Lisa.

  12. Mise
    June 29, 2011

    Very interesting, thank you, Professor C. This is the only one of Forster’s books to which I never gave a decent chance – I had seen the film before I read the book, and that so stunted my visual imagination that I felt I could not assimilate the story, that it was merely a piece of literary merchandise rather than a creation with which I could interact. That is so long ago now that you have prompted me to give the book another go. I’m looking forward to your next topic.

    Dr M.

  13. Legallyblondemel
    June 29, 2011

    Excellent stuff; I haven’t actually read Forster, but he’s on the ever-expanding list. As always, thank you, Professor C – and Lisa. It is remarkable that you both have such a way with words, for (my) lack of a better phrase.

  14. bigBANG
    June 29, 2011

    Was in our massive library in Jaipur and although P. consumed it without coming up for air and counts it among his very favorites, I still have yet to read it.

    Now I will.
    Fabulous, fabulous essay. Xo

  15. Ida
    June 30, 2011

    This essay brings back memories from childhood when we visited army officers’homes full of relics from their Indian careers they lived with those memories for the rest of their lives.
    I agree with Hattatts prefer the books to the film.
    I have never read Howard’s End must find a copy.

    Thank you Lisa & your father I always enjoy and learn much from his posts. Ida

  16. materfamilias
    June 30, 2011

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve pulled my copy off the shelf and will try to reread it soon with this post in mind AND to check out the film. I first read the novel in my late 30s, I think, back to school to finish my undergrad. I’d been directed to it by the prof of my Commmonwealth Lit course, a gay man whose attraction to post-colonial theory/literature was its relevance to his own marginalized status. Forster’s “only connect” was hugely important to him.
    Reading The Professor here on academe in the 60s, the possibility at that time of seeing its concern with homosexuality/homosociality, the Professor’s own honesty about his naïveté, I can’t help but think of Colin Firth’s splendid, devastating performance in A Single Man, and of Isherwood, of course, before him . . .

  17. Lara of Long Beach
    June 30, 2011

    Very interesting, Professor C. Will now have to read the book. The film always bothered me, like there was something not looked at closely enough. Certainly, I was able to see that it might’ve been the relationship between Fielding and Aziz. The Stella scene seemed somehow off, and there were times that I noticed Aziz behave more as I would expect a petulent lover to behave. Alec Guinness was ludicrous. His roll should have been played by an Indian actor as I believe all the other Indian rolls in the movie were, if I am not mistaken. Having watched so many Indian films in recent months, re-watching APTI was difficult because the stereotypes seemed so much more blatant.
    Thank you for giving me new eyes!

  18. Lara of Long Beach
    June 30, 2011

    May I interject a small bit of humor here?

    There were two billy goats wandering the alleyways of Hollywood when, what should they find, but a trash receptacle filled with disposed-of tins of movie film. After a pleasant nosh, one billy goat asked the other how he enjoyed his repast of film. The reply: “It was good, but the book was better.”

  19. Lisa
    June 30, 2011

    Thank you all so much for reading and commenting and even telling jokes. I feel extremely honored to have my father write these pieces. And I am very happy that you all appreciate his efforts, although not surprised. I’m fortunate to have such intelligent, good-hearted readers.

    Professor C. says thank you too, as he reads all the comments. It appears that we will have a summer break, and return in the fall. Suggestions for the new quarter (I have to use Stanford’s system, of course, rather than semesters) are welcome.

  20. Skippy Pea
    July 8, 2011

    What an excellent, insightful essay. Let me start by saying that I am Indian. I have never watched or read Passage to India. I am often reluctant to red non-indian authors take on India, especially from colonial times. I find the works to be extremely racist and bigoted – if not overtly then definitely subtly. The characters are either openly nasty or condescending towards the so called “native” population. I tried to read the secret garden and stopped out of disgust. The caste system of India is oft trotted out by westerners as an example of moral degradtion of the local social system. IMO, the british class system is worse where under the guise of equality, if someone deserves “notice” (as in simple acknowledgment of existence of that person) from another person was dependent upon his station at birth.

    I guess that I should cchalk it up to various fallings of human psyche, becuase there is no denying that any Indian in the middle ages must have regarded the dirty slovenly europeans as uncouth and not worthy of notice.

    Without commenting on casting of a non-indian, non-brahmin as a brahmin in the film, the correct pronunciation of Godbole is Goad-bo-lay not lee.

    Similarly, the name is Gandhi! Not Gandi or Ghandi!I see this one ALL the time. Is it really that difficult or are some people really just that lazy or dumb?

  21. Melissa
    July 14, 2011

    This is a fascinating post. I loved both the book and the film (though Howard’s End remains my favorite Forster) and I loved reading the Professors insights.

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