Passage to India (1924) - Adela Quested visits Chandrapore with Mrs Moore in order to make up her mind whether to marry the latter's son. Mrs Moore meets his friend Dr Azis, assistant to the British Civil Surgeon. She and Adela accept Azis's invitation to visit the mysterious Marabar Caves. In this trip Mrs Moore nearly faints in the cave and goes mad for an instant. Adela asks Azis, "Have you one wife or more than one?" and he is shocked. "But to ask an educated Indian Moslem how many wive he has - appalling, hideous!" She believes herself to have been the victim of a sexual assault by Azis, who is arrested. Adela is pushed forward by his frieds and family but she admits that she was mistaken. "Something that she did not understand took hold of the girl and pulled her through. Though the vision was over, and she had returned to the insipidity of the world, she remembered what she had learnt. Atonement and confession - they could wait. It was in hard prosaic tones that she sais: 'I withdraw everything.'" Mrs Moore dies onthe voyage home at sea. "The heat, I suppose," Mr Hamidullah says. Azis has changed his liberal views. "We may hate one another, but we hate you most. If I don't make you go, Ahmed will, Karim will, if it's fifty-hundred years we shall get rid of you; yes, we shall drive every blasted Englishman into the sea, and then' - he rode against him furiously - 'and then,' he concluded, half kissing him, 'you and I shall be friends.'" - The novel's title derives from Walt Whitman, but the American poet's celebration of the opening of the Suez Canal as bringing together East and West is qualified by Kipling's assertion that 'ne'er the twain shall meet.' The Nobel writer V.S. Naipaul has claimed once that Forster knew hardly anything about India: "He just knew a few middle-class Indians and the garden boys whom he wished to seduce."
Forster contributed reviews and essays to numerous journals, most notably the Listener, he was an active member of PEN, in 1934 he became the first president of the National Council for Civil Liberties, and after his mother's death in 1945, he was elected an honorary fellow of King's and lived there for the remainder of his life. In 1949 Forster refused a knighthood and in 1951 he collaborated with Eric Crozier on the libretto of Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd, which was based on Herman Melville's novel (film 1962, dir. by Peter Ustinov). Forster was made a Companion of Honour in 1953 and in 1969 he accepted an Order of Merit. Forster died on June 7, 1970.
"So Two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism."
Forster often criticized in his books Victorian middle class attitudes and British colonialism through strong woman characters. However, Forster's characters were not one-dimensional heroes and villains, and except his devotion to such values as tolerance and sense of comedy, he was uncommitted. "For we must admit that flat people are not in themselves as big achievement as round ones, and also that they are best when they are comic. A serious or tragic flat character is apt to be a bore. Each time he enters crying 'Revenge!' or 'My heart bleeds for humanity!' or whatever his formula is, out hearts sink." (from Aspects of the Novel) The epithet 'Fosterian' - liberal, unconventional, sceptical, moral - had started to circulate since the publication of Howard's End. Forster's famous essay 'Two Cheers for Democracy' (also: 'What I Believe'), which was originally printed in 1938 in the New York Nation reflected his concern for individual liberty. He assumed liberal humanism not dogmatically but ironically, writing in unceremonious sentences and making gentle stabs at pomposity and hypocrisy "If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country." (from 'Two cheers for Democracy') The British Humanist Association has reissued this classical work and similar essays.
For further reading: E.M. Forster by Lionel Trilling (1943); The Novels of .M. Forster by J. McConley (1957); Down There on a Visit by Christopher Isherwood (1962); The Achievement of E.M. Foerster by J. Beer (1962); The Cave and the Mountain by Wilfred Stone (1966); E.M. Forster: a Life by B.N. Furbank (1977-78, 2 vols.); An E.M. Forster Dictinary by Alfredo Borello (1971); An E.M. Forster Glossary by Alfredo Borello (1972); The Bloomsbury Group by S.P. Rosenbaum (1975); A Bibliography of E.M. Forster by Brownlee Jean Kirkpatrick (1986); E.M. Forster, ed. by Harold Bloom (1987); A Passage to India by Judith Scherer Herz (1993); A Passage to India, ed. by Tony Davies and Nigel Wood (1994); The Prose and the Passion by Nigel Rapport (1994); Morgan: A Biography of E.M. Forster by Nicola Beauman (1994); E.M. Forster: Contemporary Critical Essays, ed. by Jeremy Tambling (1995); The Modernist as Pragmatist by Brian May (1997); Queer Forster, ed. by Robert K. Martin and George Piggford (1997); Howards End, ed. by Paul B. Armstrong (1998)