Re-reading Forster’s A Passage to India : A Liberal Humanist Approach
Western humanism, which first flourished in the Renaissance, has always characterized itself as the struggle to place Man at the centre of the universe and to defend him against any second force, be it theological, natural, social, or cultural. The term ‘Liberal Humanism’ with almost same importance and consideration to the well being of ‘Man’ has been extensively used in the hands of many a modern novelist like E M Forster, an important member of the Bloomsbury group. As a learned person from the Cambridge university Forster tried to portray a liberal outlook through his creations at a time when ‘liberalism’ as an approach to life was in a moribund state of existence in Europe. The novel under discussion in a very simple term is a picture of India of the British days. Inspired by the title of a poem “Passage to India” by Whitman, the novelist here means a passage between two countries (India and England) which are divided not only geographically but also racially and politically. Forster as a liberal humanist means to say that unity can be achieved if people of both races practice the principles of tolerance, understanding and kindness. But the concluding sentence of the novel -“No, not yet” in a way brings out the impossibility of this union between the ruler and the ruled.
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