E. M. Forster's A Passage to India was published in 1924, in the decade after the Indian independence movement really started to gather steam. Forster incorporated this into his novel, showing the strong emotions raised within the British and the Indian communities after an Indian Muslim is arrested for assaulting a British schoolmistress. What did the British and Indians of the time make of this novel? Were there any articles written about this novel, or books reporting on it? I've tried Googling for contemporary reviews, but I just end up with reviews of the movie, made in 1984, long after India became independent in 1947.

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    Interesting question. It might be worth pointing out that it won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, according to Wikipedia, in the same year that it was published (1924). This is an old and prestigious British literary award. But admittedly, this does not come close to answering the question!
    – ktm5124
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 21:17
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    I'm astonished how hard it seems to be to find definitive answers to what appears to be an interesting and pertinent question. Having searched, the best information I can find is this - bl.uk/20th-century-literature/articles/… - which suggests it sold well but elicited much negative criticism from both sides of the divide. No references, however, so not worthy of an answer.
    – Matt Thrower
    Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 9:47
  • It looks like this book might have a section on "Contemporary Reception": whsmith.co.uk/products/emforster-a-passage-to-india-casebook-s/…
    – Gaurav
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 2:49

1 Answer 1


It's difficult to try and judge a reception of a novel that's nearly 100 years old. Especially as reviews seem to be 'nicer' in those days than some of the scathing remarks you see in the present day.

However, there is a review of the book from the Guardian in 1924 :

We have had novels about India from the British point of view and from the native point of view, and in each case with sympathy for the other side; but the sympathy has been intended, and in this novel there is not the slightest suggestion of anything but a personal impression, with the prejudices and limitations of the writer frankly exposed.

Full review from the Guardian - June 20th 1924

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