Thursday, January 20, 2011

Literary Blog Hop: What I disliked

Literary Blog Hop is hosted by The Blue Bookcase. If you features book reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion, you too can join in!

This week's question is:

Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?

I was in high school, when we were made to read A Passage to India by E. M. ForsterThe novel is concerned with the relations between the English and the native population of India during the colonial period in which Britain ruled India. The novel takes place primarily in Chandraporea city along the Ganges River notable only for the nearby Marabar caves. The main characters are: Aziz, a Muslim doctor; Godbole, a Hindu Professor; Fielding, the head master of the government college ; Ronald Heaslop, another British official: Mrs Moore and Adela Quested, two visitors from Britain. The relationship between he Indians and the British official speaks a lot about the then British Raj. The British official is ever sceptical of the well-meaning Indian.

The social structure of India under the British Raj has been portrayed very vividly in this book.The eternal clash between the East and the West, and prejudices and misunderstandings has been brought out very well.

All the three religions, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity have been shown to co-exist with each other. A Passage to India has all the dimensions of political situation, psychological effects and different religions. Christianity, though adequate for normal relationship and practical affairs, is too sallow for deeper human relationships. Islam is a faith that is more aesthetic and cultural than a binding spiritual faith. Hinduism does not guide the daily conduct of affairs. This is what is very interesting. Forster could bring out the positive as well as the negative aspects of the different religions so well.


I understood the enormity of all that only when I re-read it after some years and then again in 2006. In my high school, I couldn't understand all this and our teacher too did not explain too well, and I ended up disliking the novel. Although I did change my mind after reading it again.

19 comments:

Gigi Ann said...

I went to school so many years ago, that I don't think we even had any books that were required reading. We did have to read books and turn in book reports every month or two. I'm not sure if there was a required number of books we had to read each semester or not. But, it sure seemed like a lot to me, at the time.

LifetimeReader said...

I've never read this book but I was fascinated by the movie. The interplay between cultures and faiths sounds fascinating. I'm an American and have been fascinated with English views of Americans (for example, Evelyn Waugh whose The Loved One I just read). How did you react to the English view of India?

Melody said...

Isn't it interesting how your opinion on a book can totally change depending on when in your life you read it? I know I need to give a book or two another chance.

JoAnn said...

Our opinions and understanding of novels certainy change as we grow older. I read A Passage to India a few years ago and like it, but my favorite Forster is Howard's End.

parrish lantern said...

It helps to appreciate a book if the person teaching it is passionate about the subject, teaching by rote kills interest.

Adam said...

I'm glad you explained your journey with this one, as I have the book on my shelf waiting to be read. I'm always surprised when people hate a book on first reading it, but then go back and read it again and again. I think it says a lot about the connections books can have to moments in life, or even to maturation. Some books are timeless, but I think many will connect with us most at certain times in our lives.

Em said...

I really liked this book.
I'm glad you re-read it!

Laura C. said...

I'm glad you reread and liked it. I read Forster in college and liked him a lot. As I'm reading through people's posts for this hop, I'm realizing that there weren't many books I read in high school that I liked, but when I read them again, things totally changed.

Laurie said...

So impressed that you were willing/inclined to go back and reread a previously unappealing title. I had to read it for an IB class in high school and did not enjoy it - but, again, our 'teacher' aimed at 'getting us through 10 world lit. texts' in one summer, so perhaps none of them got the attention they deserved. You've inspired me to give Forster another go.
So I have a question: What recent reads 'wounded and stabbed' you, a la the Kafka quote in your subtitle? Wouldn't that make for a great meme?? (or perhaps I'm late to the game and you've done it already?)
L

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

Your experience, I guess, shows how books change for people throughout the years. There were books I read and hated a couple of years ago that I now love, maybe because I understand them better. :)

Jennifer said...

I've been meaning to read this for a while now. Glad you ended up liking it, which is more than I can say for the novels that I picked!

Elizabeth said...

My read was STONEHENGE DECODED...uggh. Did anyone else have to suffer through it?

Stop by my blog if you like to see my full answer...I also have a giveaway that isn't very literary, but check it out.

http://silversolara.blogspot.com

James said...

Having had similar experiences with novels from high school I can appreciate your example. It seems that we need to be prepared for certain books before they share their true messages.

Kelly said...

Seeing that you ended up liking this book when you reread it on your own really makes me want to try rereading some of what I hated in school. I think a lot of the time it's the teacher/classroom atmosphere that makes a person dislike a book.

Susan (Reading World) said...

There were books I read in school that I didn't enjoy at the time, but I can't say that a teacher ever ruined a book for me. I think it was more that I wasn't ready for it. Or that I had other things on my mind that were more pressing. Or even (I hate to admit) that I didn't actually complete the assigned readings on schedule. Plus I don't like to break up my reading by schedule. But I'm lucky that I never had a teacher so bad he/she could ruin a book.

Melanie said...

i don't know if i could go back and reread something i really didn't like the first time. I'll have to pick up this one.

Robyn said...

Thanks for hopping by. I love A Passage to India. I've always felt it's less about India itself than it is about what India represented to the British and the British imagination.

Loni said...

A bad teacher can definitely ruin a book, especially during the impressionable teenage years. I was lucky in high school to have good teachers; I don't remember disliking anything. The books I didn't like were all from University.

Bailey said...

That's neat that you were able to read this one later and form a different opinion!