A Passage to India, the French New Novel and English Romanticism

  • John Beer


When I first wrote about A Passage to India some years back, I was mainly concerned to trace the continuities within Forster’s fiction as a whole and their relationship to some central themes in English romanticism. His interest in the human imagination, with its power to betray those who indulged it too easily and to act as an important guide to the nature of reality in those who knew how to and on what terms to trust it, had emerged for me as an important clue in understanding his achievement as a whole, and I argued that it was still at work within the largely negative vision of his Indian novel, contributing to its unusual shape and organization.1 In a more recent essay I have taken a closer look at some romantic images, notably those involving echoes and reflections, which are used in that novel and help suggest the ambiguous status of the individual in the universe.2 I want now to approach it from a different point of view again, looking primarily at those elements in it which have led critics to acclaim it as one of the first great ‘modern’ novels. In spite of all that has been written about it in recent years, there has been comparatively little attempt to determine its nature as a body of fiction.


Paradise Lost Early Romantic Obsessive Work Intense Pleasure Romantic Image 
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  1. 1.
    John Beer, The Achievement of E. M. Forster (London: Chatto and Windus, 1962), Ch. 6.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    E. M. Forster, The Manuscripts of A Passage to India, ed. Oliver Stallybrass, Abinger ed. ( London: Edward Arnold, 1978 ), pp. 267–8.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    John Sturrock, The French New Novel: Claude Simon, Michel Butor, Alain Robbe-Grillet (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp. 178–9; 187–8.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    Malcolm Cowley, ed., Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews ( New York: The Viking Press, 1958 ), pp. 26–7.Google Scholar
  5. 22.
    E. M. Forster, Abinger Harvest ( London: Edward Arnold, 1936 ), pp. 59–61.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Judith Scherer Herz and Robert K. Martin 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Beer

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