Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lecture 7

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Wk 4 - Mon (11/8), 3-4 pm lecture: HSB1

E. M. Forster: A Passage to India (1924) -

Bloomsbury and the Raj

Is Miss Quested a "post-impressionist"? (p.77)

[All page references to E. M. Forster, A Passage to India. 1924. Ed. Oliver Stallybrass. 1979. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984.]

The Dreadnought Hoax (1910)

'The Dreadnought Hoax was a practical joke pulled by Horace de Vere Cole in 1910. Cole tricked the Royal Navy into showing their flagship, the warship HMS Dreadnought to a supposed delegation of Abyssinian royals. The hoax drew attention in Britain to the emergence of the Bloomsbury Group.

The hoax involved Cole and five friends — writer Virginia Stephen (later Virginia Woolf), her brother Adrian Stephen, Guy Ridley, Anthony Buxton and artist Duncan Grant — who disguised themselves with skin darkeners and turbans. The disguise's main limitation was that the "royals" could not eat anything or their make-up would be ruined. Adrian Stephen took the role of "interpreter".

On 10 February 1910 the trick began. Cole had an accomplice send a telegram to HMS Dreadnought which was then moored in Weymouth, Dorset. The message said that the ship must be prepared for the visit of a group of princes from Abyssinia and was purportedly signed by Foreign Office Under-secretary Sir Charles Hardinge.

Cole with his entourage went to London's Paddington station where Cole claimed that he was "Herbert Cholmondeley" of the UK Foreign Office and demanded a special train to Weymouth. The stationmaster arranged a VIP coach.

In Weymouth, the navy welcomed the princes with an honour guard. Unfortunately, nobody had found an Abyssinian flag, so the navy proceeded to use that of Zanzibar and to play Zanzibar's national anthem. Their visitors did not appear to notice.

The group inspected the fleet. They distributed cards printed in Swahili and talked with each other in a broken Latin. To show their appreciation, they yelled invented words. They asked for prayer mats and bestowed fake military honours on some of the officers. One officer familiar with both Cole and Virginia Stephen failed to recognize either one, possibly because he heard the interpreter's strong German accent and was worried in case a German spy came on-board.

When they were on the train, Anthony Buxton sneezed and blew off his false whiskers, but managed to stick them back before anyone noticed. Cole told a train conductor that he could serve royals lunch only with white gloves. This was, of course, to avoid the problem with the make-up.

In London, they revealed the ruse by sending a letter and a group photo to the Daily Mirror. The Royal Navy briefly became an object of ridicule and demanded that Cole be arrested. However, Cole and his compatriots had not broken any law. The Navy sent two officers to cane Cole as a punishment—but Cole countered that it was they who should be caned because they had been fooled in the first place.'

The Bloomsbury Group


Virginia Stephen (1882-1941) & Leonard Woolf (1880-1969)
Clive Bell (1881-1964) & Vanessa Stephen (1879-1961) & Duncan Grant (1885-1978)
Roger Fry (1866-1934)
Lytton Strachey (1880-1932) & Dora Carrington (1893-1932)
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)

Crucial dates:

1903 – G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica
1907 – Clive Bell marries Vanessa Stephen
1910 – Roger Fry’s Post-impressionist exhibition
1910 – The Dreadnought Hoax
1912 – Leonard Woolf returns from Ceylon to marry Virginia Stephen
1912 – Lytton Strachey, Landmarks in French Literature
1914 – Clive Bell, Art
1915 – Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out
1916 – Bertrand Russell dismissed from Trinity College, Cambridge for his pacifist views. He is later imprisoned under the notorious Defence of the Realm Act (DORA).
1917 – Virginia and Leonard Woolf found the Hogarth Press
1918 – Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians: Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Dr. Arnold, General Gordon
1919 – Virginia Woolf, Modern Fiction
1921 – Lytton Strachey, Queen Victoria
1925 – Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway
1925 – Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader
1927 – Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
1928 – Clive Bell, Civilization
1928 – Lytton Strachey, Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History
1928 – Virginia Woolf, Orlando
1929 – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
1931 – Virginia Woolf, The Waves
1932 – Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader: Second Series
1938 – Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas
1941 – Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts
1942 – Virginia Woolf, The Death of the Moth and Other Essays

Is Mr Turton a "great man"? (Ronnie Heaslop)

The Amritsar Massacre

'Dyer is infamous for the orders which he gave on April 13, 1919 in Amritsar. It was under his command that 90 troops, comprising of 25 Gurkhas of 1st/9th Gurkha Rifles, 25 Pathans and Baluch of 54th Sikhs and 59th Sindh Rifles, all armed with .303 Lee-Enfield rifles and the Gurkhas additionally armed with khukris opened fire on a gathering of unarmed civilians, including women and children gathered at the Jallianwalla Bagh in what came to be later known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

The civilians had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh to participate in the annual Baisakhi celebrations which are both a religious as well as a cultural festival of the Punjabis. The Bagh-space comprised 6–7 acres and was walled on all sides except for five entrances, four of them being very narrow and admitting only a few people at a time. The fifth entrance was blocked by the armed soldiers and by two armoured cars armed with machine guns, although these vehicles were unable to pass through the entrance. Upon entering the park, the General immediately ordered troops to fire directly upon the assembled gathering; firing continued till his troops' ammunition of 1650 rounds was fully exhausted. The firing continued unabated for about 10 minutes. From time to time, Dyer "checked his fire and directed it upon places where the crowd was thickest"; he did this not because the crowd was slow to disperse, but because he (the General) "had made up his mind to punish them for having assembled there." Some of the soldiers initially fired in the air, at which General Dyer shouted: "Fire low. What have you been brought here for?." Later, Dyer's own testimony revealed that the crowd was not given any warning to disperse and he felt no remorse for having ordered his troops to fire.

'The worst part of the whole thing was that the firing was directed towards the exit gates through which the people were running out. There were small 3 or 4 outlets in all and bullets were actually rained over the people at all these gates... and many got trampled under the feet of the rushing crowds and thus lost their lives... even those who lay flat on the ground were fired upon.'

The official reports quote 379 dead and over 1,000 injured. However, public enquiry estimates, figures from Government Civil Servants in the city as well as counts from the Home Political cite numbers well over a thousand dead. According to a Home Political Deposit report, the number was over 1,000, with more than 1,200 wounded. Dr. Smith, a British civil surgeon at Amritsar, indicated over 1800 casualties. These massive casualties earned general Dyer the infamous epitaph of "The Butcher of Amritsar" in India. It has been repeatedly pointed out that the actual figures were deliberately suppressed by the government for political reasons.

On the day following the massacre, Mr. Kitchin, the Commissioner of Lahore as well as General Dyer, both used threatening language. The following is the English translation of Dyer's Urdu Statement directed at the local residents of Amritsar on the afternoon of April 14, 1919, a day after the Amritsar massacre:

"You people know well that I am a Sepoy and soldier. Do you want war or peace? If you wish for a war, the Government is prepared for it, and if you want peace, then obey my orders and open all your shops; else I will shoot. For me the battle-field of France or Amritsar is the same. I am a military man and I will go straight. Neither shall I move to the right nor to the left. Speak up, if you want war? In case there is to be peace, my order is to open all shops at once. You people talk against the Government and persons educated in Germany and Bengal talk sedition. I shall report all these. Obey my orders. I do not wish to have anything else. I have served in the military for over 30 years. I understand the Indian Sepoy and Sikh people very well. You will have to obey my orders and observe peace. Otherwise the shops will be opened by force and Rifles. You will have to report to me of the Badmash. I will shoot them. Obey my orders and open shops. Speak up if you want war? You have committed a bad act in killing the English. The revenge will be taken upon you and upon your children."

Brigadier Dyer designated the spot where Miss Marcella Sherwood was assaulted sacred and daytime pickets were placed at either end of the street. Anyone wishing to proceed in the street between 6am and 8pm was made to crawl the 150 yards (140 m) on all fours, lying flat on their bellies. The order was not required at night due to a curfew. The humiliation of the order struck the Indians deeply. Most importantly, the order effectively closed the street. The houses had no back doors and the inhabitants could not go out without climbing down from their roofs. This order was in effect from April 19 until April 25, 1919. No doctor or supplier was allowed in, resulting in the sick being untended.

On his return to Britain, General Dyer was presented with a purse of 26,000 pounds sterling, a huge sum in those days, which emerged from a collection on his behalf by the Morning Post, a conservative, pro-Imperialistic newspaper, which later merged with the Daily Telegraph. A Thirteen Women Committee was constituted to present "the Saviour of the Punjab with sword of honour and a purse." This single incident incensed the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore so much that he renounced his knighthood in protest. The Morning Post had supported Dyer’s action on grounds stating that the massacre was necessary to "Protect the honor of European Women."
General Dyer was oblivious of the events that he was responsible for. He wrote an article in the Globe of 21 January 1921, titled, "The Peril to the Empire". It commenced with, "India does not want self-government. She does not understand it." He went on to write:
  • It is only to an enlightened people that free speech and a free press can be extended. The Indian people want no such enlightenment ...
  • There should be an eleventh commandment in India, "Thou shalt not agitate" ...
  • Gandhi will not lead India to capable self-government. The British Raj must continue, firm and unshaken in its administration of justice to all men.'

British India

Important Dates:

• 1757 – Robert Clive wins the Battle of Plassey, the real beginning of the East India Company’s rule in India (present since the late 17th century).
• 1769–70 – Great Bengal Famine: 10 million dead (disputed as excessive)
• 1773 – Warren Hastings created the first British Governor General of India.
• 1783–84 – Chalisa famine: Severe famine. Large areas were depopulated. Up to 11 million people may have died during the years 1782–84.
• 1791–92 – Doji bara famine or Skull famine. One of the most severe famines known. People died in such numbers that they could not be cremated or buried. It is thought that 11 million people may have died during the years 1788–94.
• 1837–38 – Agra famine of 1837–38: 800,000 dead (disputed as inadequate)
• 1843 – Annexation of Sindh.
• 1849 – Anglo-Sikh wars result in the annexation of Kashmir, Punjab and the North-West Frontier.
• 1857 – The Indian Mutiny.
• 1858 – British India created.
• 1865–66 – Orissa famine of 1866: 1 million dead.
• 1868–70 – Rajputana famine of 1869: 1.5 million dead (mostly in the princely states of Rajputana)
• 1873–74 – Bihar famine of 1873–74: A large and generous relief effort was organized by the Bengal government. There were no mortalities during the famine.
• 1876 – Queen Victoria becomes Empress of India.
• 1876–78 – Great Famine of 1876–78: 5.25 million in British territory. Mortality unknown for princely states.
• 1896–97 Indian famine of 1896–97: 1,000,000 dead (in British territories). Mortality unknown for princely states.
• 1899–1901 Indian famine of 1899-1900: 1 million dead (in British territories). Mortality unknown for princely states.
• 1919 – Amritsar massacre kills at least 379 (official figures). Unofficial estimates are over 1,000.
• 1943–44 Bengal famine of 1943: 1–1.5 million dead from starvation; 3 million including deaths from epidemics.
• 1947 – British withdraw from India. Partition massacres kill an estimated half million people.

The E. M. Forster Story

Yes - oh dear yes - the novel tells a story
– E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel. 1927. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. p.34.

1879 – Edward Morgan Forster is born in London on the 1st of January.
1880 – His father, an architect, dies.
1887 – He inherits £8,000 from his paternal great-aunt Marianne Thornton (enough to live on – enabling him to become a writer).
1893-96 – Attends Tonbridge School in Kent as a day boy.
1897-1901 – Goes to King's College, Cambridge, where he becomes a member of the Apostles, the nucleus of the Bloomsbury Group.
1901-05 – After leaving university, travels on the continent (France, Italy, Germany and as far as Greece): albeit for the most part with his mother.
1905 – Publishes his first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread.
1907 – Publishes The Longest Journey, an autobiographical novel.
1908 – Publishes A Room with a View, a comedy of manners, his lightest novel.
1910 – Publishes Howards End, a ‘state-of-England’ novel.
1911 – Publishes The Celestial Omnibus, a collection of short stories.
1912-13 – Works unsuccessfully on Arctic Summer, his proposed follow-up to Howards End.
1913-14 – Works instead on Maurice, his homosexual ‘coming-out’ novel.
1914 – Visits Egypt, Germany and India with the classicist Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson.
1914 – The First World War breaks out; Forster becomes a conscientious objector
1916-17– While engaged in hospital work for the Red Cross in Egypt, meets in Alexandria a seventeen-year-old tram conductor, Mohammed el-Adl, with whom he fell in love. Has his first sexual encounter with another man.
1922 – Mohammed dies of tuberculosis.
1922 – Publishes Alexandria: A History and Guide.
1923 – Publishes Pharos and Pharillon, a collection of travel essays.
1921-22 – Spends a second period in India as private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas. While living at the court, Forster has the first ongoing sexual relationship of his life, with Kanaya, a young boy who serves him also as barber.
1924 – Publishes A Passage to India, his most successful novel, which wins the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
1925-45 – Forster lives with his mother Alice Clare (Lily) in West Hackhurst, Abinger Hammer, finally leaving on 23 September, 1946.
1927 – Publishes Aspects of the Novel, based on his Clark lectures, given at Cambridge earlier that year.
1928 – Publishes The Eternal Moment, a collection of short stories.
1930s – Begins a stable, ongoing relationship with Bob Buckingham, a constable in the London Metropolitan Police. Also develops a friendship with Buckingham's wife May.
1934 – Publishes Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, a biography.
1936 – Publishes Abinger Harvest, a collection of essays.
1946 – Forster is elected an honorary fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and thereafter lived for the most part in college, doing relatively little.
1947 – Publishes Collected Short Stories.
1951 – Publishes Two Cheers for Democracy, a collection of essays.
1952 – Writes the libretto for Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd, in collaboration with Eric Crozier.
1953 – Publishes The Hill of Devi, a collection of letters and observations recorded during his stay in India in the early 20s.
1953 – Made a Companion of Honour.
1956 – Publishes Marianne Thornton, A Domestic Biography.
1960 – Attends first performance of Santha Rama Rau’s dramatisation of A Passage to India, at the Oxford Playhouse.
1969 – Made a member of the Order of Merit.
1970 – Dies in Coventry on 7th June, at the age of 91, at the Buckinghams’ home.
1971 – Maurice, written 1913–14, is published posthumously.
1972 – The Life to Come and Other Stories published posthumously.
1977 – P. N. Furbank, E. M. Forster: The Growth of the Novelist, 1879-1914.
1978 – P. N. Furbank, E. M. Forster: Polycrates’ Ring, 1914-1970.
1983-85 – Forster’s Selected Letters published posthumously.
1984 – The film of A Passage to India, directed by David Lean, released.
1985 – Forster’s Commonplace Book published posthumously.
1985 – The film of A Room with a View, directed by James Ivory, released.
1987 – The film of Maurice, directed by James Ivory, released.
1991 – The film of Where Angels Fear to Tread, directed by Charles Sturridge, released.
1992 – The film of Howards End, directed by James Ivory, released.
2001 – The Feminine Note in Literature, a collection of essays, is published posthumously.
2003 – Arctic Summer, an unfinished novel, is published posthumously with some other uncollected fictional fragments.

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