A Passage to India (1924), the last of E. M. Forster's novels to be published in his lifetime, became an immediate bestseller and also met with critical acclaim for its moral and political commentary on the crossings between individuals and cultures in the India of the British Empire. Forster's record of the terrible consequences of failed connection, of the unexpected upheavals that unsettle the calm of middle-class life, and of the challenges to the ideological foundations of Empire draw their strength from the novel's blend of intense realism and complex narrative technique. In this Readers' Guide, Betty Jay considers the establishment of Forster's reputation and the various attempts of critics to decipher the complex codes that are a feature of his novel. Successive chapters focus on debates around Forster's liberal-humanism, with essays from F. R. Leavis, Lionel Trilling and Malcolm Bradbury; on the indeterminacy and ambiguity of the text, with extracts from essays by Gillian Beer, Robert Barratt, Wendy Moffat and Jo-Ann Hoeppner Moran; and on the sexual politics of Forster's work, with writings from Elaine Showalter, Frances L. Restuccia and Eve Dawkins Poll.
The Guide concludes with essays from Jeffrey Meyers and Jenny Sharpe, who read A Passage to India in terms of its engagement with British imperialism.