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199 VERBAL TRUTH AND TRUTH OF MOOD IN E. M. FORSTER· S A PASSAGE TO. INDIA By V. J. Emmett, Jr. (Kansas State College, Pittsburg) In I943 Lionel Trilling described E. M. Förster·s A Passage to India in terms of a plot involving Mrs. Moore, AdeTa, Aziz, and Fielding to which the last part of the book, "Temple," was seen as "a coda. . . a series of resolutions and separations which comment on what has gone before."! By implication this view of the book minimizes the importance of "Temple" and of Hinduism, which gets more attention in "Temple" than in the two earlier parts, and of Professor Godbole, the book's most important Hindu character. It emphasizes the importance of "Caves," in which the mainevents of the plot take place, and of the skeptical humanism of Fielding, the protagonist of the plot. The emphasis implied in Trilling's description of the book dominated the criticism for some time. Arnold Kettle, for example, wrote in 1951 that the "central core of A Passage to India is the relationship of Aziz the Indian and Fielding the Englishman. The contrivances of the plot . » . are important mainly as a way of illuminating this relationship. . . ."2 of late it has been widely maintained that the book must be seen quite differently. In 195^ J. K. Johnstone described Forster·s novel this way: The large divisions of . . .A Passage to India. "Mosque," "Caves," "Temple," accord with the spiritual development of the novel, which moves from, , .theism, which is found to be unreal, to the undeniable reality of evil, and, finally, to the synthesis which Hindu pantheism achieves. The Hindu ceremony in the last part of the book opposes evil as the Rains drench out the . . . Hot Weather. . , . And the Rains accord with evil, and the Cold Weather with the seclusion of the mosque. These three divisions of the Indian year enclose the novel .... This arrangement . , , is attuned to the pantheistic theme of the novel,3 This view of the book emphasizes just those things formerly minimized, and minimizes just those things formerly emphasized. It finds the book's final statement to be an endorsement of Professor Godbole*s Hindu mysticism. The main weight of criti-cism in the i960*s was in this vein, but the older school continued to find adherents. The issue between the two schools of commentary can be clarified by looking at the book in the context of twentieth-century intellectual history. Since Forster as a member of the Bloomsbury group was in contact with such seminal minds as G, E. Moore and John Maynard Keynes, and since he also knew Bertrand Russell, it is odd that his most important novel has not been examined in relation to what these and similar thinkers were doing in the same era,r Logical and linguistic analysis of philosophical concepts was the chief 200 concern of philosophers during the decade in which A- Passage to India was published. The center of this philosophical concern was Förster*s own university, Cambridge, where it began at about the turn of the century. Johnstone points out that G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica (I903) was particularly influential on the members of the group. Moore's book is one of the important early examples of the interest in the philosophy of language that came to dominate twentieth-century philosophy. His investigation of ethics is not primarily an investigation of good and bad behavior; it is an investigation of the meaning of 'good· and of the nature of propositions containing 'good' and similar terms. This Cambridge philosophy can be called rationalist only in a special and limited sense. These twentieth-century rationalists differ from earlier rationalists in that they conceive reason more narrowly and state its claims less ambitiously. Milton's right reason was able to inform the will and to recognize moral truth. Descartes thought reason provided knowledge of the world. The eighteenth century believed in a reason able to see that certain truths were self-evident. Twentieth-century rationalists, however, feel that reason confines itself to logic, mathematics, and the logical and mathematical manipulation of empirical data. Reason can tell you that, if you want to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 199-212
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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