Title ~ Maurice
Author ~ E.M. Forster
Publisher ~ Hodder and Stoughton
Completed ~ 1914
Published ~ June 1970
Genre ~ M/M Romance (Classic)
Rating ~ 5 Stars
As Maurice Hall makes his way through a traditional English education, he projects an outer confidence that masks troubling questions about his own identity. Frustrated and unfulfilled, a product of the bourgeoisie he will grow to despise, he has difficulty acknowledging his nascent attraction to men.
At Cambridge he meets Clive, who opens his eyes to a less conventional view of the nature of love. Yet when Maurice is confronted by the societal pressures of life beyond university, self-doubt and heartbreak threaten his quest for happiness.
A new edition of this novel, which although written in 1914, was not published until after the author's death in 1970 because of its homosexual content. It tells the story of a young man at Cambridge, who falls in love with another man who betrays him by turning to women. But then he meets someone else and finds happiness with him.
Perfect! There is probably nothing I can write that hasn't been written before about this work from one of our great English authors. It has no doubt been criticised, scrutinised, analysed, investigated, praised and acclaimed, I will just write about how the book made me feel.
The style of English was so refreshing to read. A style and mastery that has been long since forgotten. It has a beauty to it that flows and melts coming from an era where conversation really was an art. Where every word was carefully picked and every sentence construction built to hold, last and sit precisely. A rare treat. Forster manages to describe the emotions of gay love by eluding to it but never the vulgar. I ask myself what would he think about our modern romances and language if he could read them today.
The internal struggle of Maurice to come to terms with his sexuality is excruciating, hopeless in 1914 to be accepted, therefore extremely sad and upsetting. Oh, I could so feel Maurice’s agony, his confusion, his heartache. I just wished I could have gone back in time, comforted him and told him that not now, in the future better times will come. This book gives such a depth of feeling and insight like no other I have read.
He would not deceive himself so much. He would not – and this was the test – pretend to care about women when the only sex that attracted him was his own. He loved men and always had loved them. He longed to embrace them and mingle his being with theirs. Now that the man who returned his love had been lost, he admitted this
The book itself was like having my own personal time portal, swept back to a time, though noble also ignorant. A look into, class, social etiquette, traditions, and values of an era gone by. Into this was born Maurice and his fight for happiness begins. He goes through a personal hell and back, jilted by Clive who turns to women in the end. Here I reckon Clive was probably what we know to be bi today and was easier for him to bow to the pressures of society although quite possibly a sexless marriage to Anne. In the end Maurice confronts him.
You do care a little for me, I know... but nothing to speak of, and you don't love me. I was yours once till death if you'd cared to keep me, but I'm someone else's now... and he's mine in a way that shocks you, but why don't you stop being shocked, and attend to your own happiness.
Maurice finds his absolution and love in the arms of Scudder the game keeper. An unlikely combination but Scudder's naive acceptance of his homosexuality is refreshing in it's nature. His love and admiration for Maurice is all encompassing, even though Maurice feels a little threatened as Scudder’s lower social class means the element of black mail is there, but these fears are soon allayed.
However, despite all the odds they still try to find their HEA and the story is left to make your own conclusions knowing that acceptance of their love will never be possible and it would mean a lifetime of hiding and lying to others. I would like to think that somehow they find a way to be with each other.
Did you ever dream you had a friend, Alec? Someone to last your whole life and you his. I suppose such a thing can’t really happen outside sleep.
Scudder creeps out of the background and has a more profound effect on Maurice than originally anticipated. Maurice goes through an emotional hell and back, looking at his sexual orientation as an abomination, a disease that has no cure, though treatments are sought the internal struggle remains until it nearly drives him to suicidal feelings. This would be all quite understandable today and wouldn’t be the trauma it was then caused by social pressures and the way of thinking. However, even then some cultures were still more liberal and understanding than the puritanical British. Maurice eventually opens up to his American psychologist who he confides in but even though he went there to try and find “a cure”
“You mean that a Frenchman could share with a friend and yet not go to prison?”
“Share? Do you mean unite? If both are of age and avoid public indecency, certainly.”
“Will the law ever be that in England?”
“I doubt it. England has always been disinclined to accept human nature.”
But in 1914 you would have no other choice but to stay firmly in the closet and remain there! An extremely lonely feeling.
He knew that loneliness was poisoning him, so that he grew viler as well as more unhappy.
Obviously, this book never end on an HEA, the period would just not allow it.This book was far ahead of its time, completed in in 1914, however the first publication came after the death of the author in 1971, when society was ready to embrace its message.
All I can say for anyone who wishes to read a classic M/M romance from a master author then………
READ THIS BOOK!
It was a pioneering work of its day and anyone who takes their m/m romance literature seriously should read it as a shining example of how we've got to where we are today.
About The Author
Forster was born into an Anglo-Irish and Welsh middle-class family at 6 Melcombe Place, Dorset Square, London NW1, in a building that no longer exists. He was the only child of Alice Clara "Lily" (née Whichelo) and Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster, an architect. His name was officially registered as Henry Morgan Forster, but at his baptism he was accidentally named Edward Morgan Forster. To distinguish him from his father, he was always called Morgan. His father died of tuberculosis on 30 October 1880, before Morgan's second birthday.Among Forster's ancestors were members of the Clapham Sect, a social reform group within the Church of England.
He inherited £8,000 (£753,240 as of 2014)from his paternal great-aunt Marianne Thornton (daughter of the abolitionist Henry Thornton), who died on 5 November 1887. The money was enough to live on and enabled him to become a writer. He attended the notable public school, Tonbridge School in Kent, as a day boy. The theatre at the school has been named in his honour.
At King's College, Cambridge, between 1897 and 1901, he became a member of a discussion society known as the Apostles (formally named the Cambridge Conversazione Society). Many of its members went on to constitute what came to be known as the Bloomsbury Group, of which Forster was a peripheral member in the 1910s and 1920s. There is a famous recreation of Forster's Cambridge at the beginning of The Longest Journey.
After leaving university, he travelled in continental Europe with his mother. In 1914, he visited Egypt, Germany and India with the classicist Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, by which time he had written all but one of his novels. In the First World War, as a conscientious objector, Forster volunteered for the International Red Cross, and served in Alexandria, Egypt.
Forster spent a second spell in India in the early 1920s as the private secretary to Tukojirao III, the Maharajah of Dewas. The Hill of Devi is his non-fictional account of this period. After returning to London from India, he completed his last novel, A Passage to India (1924), for which he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. He also edited Eliza Fay's (1756–1816) letters from India, in an edition first published in 1925
About The Book
A tale of same-sex love in early 20th-century England, it follows Maurice Hall from his schooldays, through university and beyond. It was written in 1913–1914, and revised in 1932 and 1959–1960. Although it was shown to selected friends, such as Christopher Isherwood, it was only published in 1971 after Forster's death.
Forster was close friends with the poet Edward Carpenter, and upon visiting his Derbyshire home in 1912, was motivated to write Maurice. The relationship between Carpenter and his partner, George Merrill, was the inspiration for that between Maurice and Alec Scudder.
Forster resisted publication because of public and legal attitudes to same-sex love – a note found on the manuscript read: "Publishable, but worth it?". Forster was particularly keen that his novel should have a happy ending, but knew that this would make the book too controversial. However, by the time he died, British attitudes, and law, had changed.
The novel has been adapted once for film and once for the stage.
In the original manuscripts, Forster wrote an epilogue concerning the post-novel fate of Maurice and Alec that he later discarded, because it was unpopular among those to whom he showed it. This epilogue can still be found in the Abinger edition of the novel. This edition also contains a summary of the differences between various versions of the novel.
The Abinger reprint of the Epilogue retains Maurice's original surname of Hill throughout. The epilogue contains a meeting between Maurice and his sister Kitty some years later. Alec and Maurice have by now become woodcutters. It dawns upon Kitty why her brother disappeared. This portion of the novel underlines the extreme dislike that Kitty feels for her brother. The epilogue ends with Maurice and Alec in each other's arms at the end of the day discussing seeing Kitty and resolving that they must move on to avoid detection or a further meeting.
….and don’t forget the film if you don’t want to read the book!
Here are two trailers for you enjoyment – well recommended!