Ramlal Agarwal’s essay is a revaluation of the novel – A Passage to India by E.M. Forster, with Mrs. Moore and Fielding at its center.
Forster, as is well-known, was a humanist, soft-spoken, cultivated, cultured man. He believed in personal relations and universal brotherhood. He was also a man of rare intelligence and insight and dreamed of a society that was tolerant and friendly. He visited India twice, first, in 1912-13 and then in 1921. Though the visits were brief, Forster acquired extensive knowledge of Indian society and its inner workings. He formed an intimate friendship with some Indians and moved about the country freely. He had his personal vision of life and another vision of social life in India. Armed with double vision, the symbolic and the realist, he wrote his last novel A Passage to India in which he deals with the struggle of the internal disturbances of India and his own struggle to unite his double vision into one.
Forster set A Passage to India in India in the 1920s when Indian society was seething with strife and distrust among its main constituents, the Hindus, the Muslims, and the British. The social and political atmosphere of the country was completely vitiated by its constituents who hated one another. The novel gets at the heart of it and strives to make peace, and succeeds, though moderately or one might say symbolically.