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Mass of Madness: Jurisprudence in E. M. Forster's A Passage to India

Mass of Madness: Jurisprudence in E. M. Forster's A Passage to India Allen Mendenhall Law-and-literature scholars have paid scant attention to E. M. Forster’s oeuvre, which abounds in legal information and which situates itself in a unique jurisprudential context. Of all his novels, A Passage to India (1924) interrogates the law most rigorously, especially as it implicates massive programs of ‘liberal’ imperialism and ‘humanitarian’ intervention, as well as less grand but equally dubious legal apparatuses – jail, bail, discovery, courtrooms – that police and pervert Chandrapore, the fictional Indian city in which the novel is set. The study of law in Anglo-India is particularly telling, if troubling, because India served as ‘a model for colonial legal policy elsewhere’1 and because ‘the legal history of empire has been a relatively untouched field’ even though modern controversies are ‘notably bound up with these inescapable legal pasts.’2 By scrutinising the legal architecture of the British imperial project, Passage not only stimulates critical theory about law but also subverts a wide range of actual legal practices, most notably colonial trial procedures. To the extent that modern controversies are bound up with these practices and procedures, the study of Anglo-Indian legal history is imperative. Far from comprehensive, my treatment of colonial law (like Forster’s) might http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Mass of Madness: Jurisprudence in E. M. Forster's A Passage to India

Modernist Cultures , Volume 6 (2): 315 – Oct 1, 2011

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2011
Subject
Articles; Film, Media and Cultural Studies
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2011.0018
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Allen Mendenhall Law-and-literature scholars have paid scant attention to E. M. Forster’s oeuvre, which abounds in legal information and which situates itself in a unique jurisprudential context. Of all his novels, A Passage to India (1924) interrogates the law most rigorously, especially as it implicates massive programs of ‘liberal’ imperialism and ‘humanitarian’ intervention, as well as less grand but equally dubious legal apparatuses – jail, bail, discovery, courtrooms – that police and pervert Chandrapore, the fictional Indian city in which the novel is set. The study of law in Anglo-India is particularly telling, if troubling, because India served as ‘a model for colonial legal policy elsewhere’1 and because ‘the legal history of empire has been a relatively untouched field’ even though modern controversies are ‘notably bound up with these inescapable legal pasts.’2 By scrutinising the legal architecture of the British imperial project, Passage not only stimulates critical theory about law but also subverts a wide range of actual legal practices, most notably colonial trial procedures. To the extent that modern controversies are bound up with these practices and procedures, the study of Anglo-Indian legal history is imperative. Far from comprehensive, my treatment of colonial law (like Forster’s) might

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2011

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