By E. M. Forster

Among the best novels of the 20 th century and the root for director David Lean’s Academy Award-winning movie, A Passage to India tells of the conflict of cultures in British India after the flip of the century. In beautiful prose, Forster finds the risk that lurks simply underneath the outside of normal existence, as a typical false impression erupts right into a devastating affair.

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Sample text

Parrot," he hazarded. " The bird in question dived into the dome of the tree. It was of no importance, yet they would have liked to identify it, it would somehow have solaced their hearts. But nothing in India is identifiable, the mere asking of a question causes it to disappear or to merge in something else. "McBryde has an illustrated bird book," he said dejectedly. "I'm no good at all at birds, in fact I'm useless at any information outside my own job. " "So am I. " shouted the Nawab Bahadur at the top of his voice, causing both of them to start.

As if turbans were the natural product of darkness a fresh one would occasionally froth to the front, incline itself towards him and retire. He was preoccupied, his diction was appropriate to a religious subject. Nine years previously, when first he had had a car, he had driven it over a drunken man and killed him and the man had been waiting for him ever since. The Nawab Bahadur was innocent before God and the Law, he had paid double the compensation necessary; but it was no use, the man continued to wait in an unspeakable form, close to the scene of his death.

It was Sunday, always an equivocal day in the East and an excuse for slacking. He could hear church bells as he drowsed, both from the civil station and from the missionaries out beyond the slaughter house different bells and rung with different intent, for one set was calling firmly to Anglo-India and the other feebly to mankind. He did not object to the first set; the other he ignored, knowing their inefficiency. Old Mr. Graysford and young Mr. Sorley made converts during a famine, because they distributed food; but when times improved they were naturally left alone again and though surprised and aggrieved each time this happened, they never learnt wisdom.

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