Maurice Is Heartbroken Over Unrequited Love, Which Opened His Heart And Mind To His Own Sexual Identity In Order To Be True To Himself, He Goes Against The Grain Of Society S Often Unspoken Rules Of Class, Wealth, And Politics Forster Understood That His Homage To Same Sex Love, If Published When He Completed It In , Would Probably End His Career Thus, Maurice Languished In A Drawer For Fifty Seven Years, The Author Requesting It Be Published Only After His Death Along With His Stories About Homosexuality Later Collected In The Life To Come Since Its Release In , Maurice Has Been Widely read And Praised It Has Been, And Continues To Be, Adapted For Major Stage Productions, Including The Oscar Nominated Film Adaptation Starring Hugh Grant And James Wilby Possibly my new favourite book of the year so far I absolutely loved this one beautiful, moving, such a powerful read.
4 StarsI m not well versed in historic stories of the British upper class, but I m happy to say that despite the fear, despite having to hide, Maurice finds love, grabs on, and refuses to let go.
Though published posthumously, all the stars for having been written at all in a time of blatant unacceptance.
If Dorian Gray is the dramatic, scandal creating gay classic, than Maurice is the snobbish yet emotionally moving gay classic Written in 1913 14 but only published sixty years later, this is a book that is impressive not because of its romance but because of the character s personal journey towards self acceptance.
Began 1913, finished 1914 Dedicated to a happier year With this heartbreaking opening statement, the story begins We get to follow Maurice Hall as he grows up and starts to realize that he s attracted to men This is not an easy realization this story takes place, and was published, in England at the beginning of the 20th century A time in which gay men and women are nonsense or get send to asylums, thank god So this book is already unique for being so open and honest about Maurice s homosexual relationships Despite knowing society s views, Maurice is certain of his love for his fellow student Clive Durham, a young man fan of the Classics like the story of Achilles Patroclus.
And while Clive and Maurice are a far cry from those Greek heroes the English men are snobbish and have misogynistic tendencies their love is treated with emotion and tenderness surprising for its timeHe educated Maurice, or rather his spirit educated Maurice s spirit, for they themselves became equal Neither thought Am I led am I leading Love had caught him out of triviality and Maurice out of bewilderment in order that two imperfect souls might touch perfection Yet it is exactly this romance between Maurice and Clive and Maurice and his future partner that didn t convince me The love between the first couple felt too intellectual and stiff befitting for their characters but it made me unable to root for them With the second couple, love became too serious too quickly their love was lust instead of true I had some similar problems with the romance in A Room with a View I felt for the characters, just not for their not existing chemistry But who cares about romance when the author is able to make you feel for a snobbish gay prat Maurice s struggle and ultimately acceptance of his own sexuality is very moving and remarkable because as mentioned in the author s final words it made this book harder to publish If it ended unhappily, with a lad dangling from a noose or with a suicide pact, all would be well page 220 It s this bleak and grim reality which echoes a bit in today s society that proves all the why people should read Maurice Like my friend Lydia said in her review it makes me wonder what other books were written throughout history and never published, because they had a theme of same sex love.
Sublime Oh my God, I won t forget this book Maurice and Alec forever.
Off I go to read E.
M Forster, though I know this was his only homosexual themed book in his esteemed career and the book was published after his death, as he d requested to his friends, knowing the storm it would create in proper English Society.
It s a great work I am humbled before it as a writer.
By the way, the author s terminal note of 1960, on homosexuality, was so brutally true and broke my heart.
Yes, Maurice may get away, but Alec will always be scorned upon by the Clives of the world
Vladimir Nabokov wrote in Pnin Some people and I am one of them hate happy ends We feel cheated Harm is the norm Doom should not jam The avalanche stopping in its tracks a few feet above the cowering village behaves not only unnaturally but unethically.
This is true for me as well While of course I was cheering for the titular hero through the course of his internal and external struggle for identity, I can t help but feel, after finishing the book well, that was very nice, but life is not like that Endings are very particular thing, there is no sense of an ending in a novel, that is excepting for death Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, Lolita, etc are all very satisfying in their fatal finales It is the sad ending, the nadir and despair which is reached as the hero comes to the final fall, that is what satisfies a reader It is the bottom which gives us the sense of completion, and not the peak We are never finished with a full glass, only an empty one The ending for Maurice is a happy one, and deliberately so, as was the intention of Forster, but I am not sure it is the right one The whole story of Scudder to me seems a bit forced, a bit sudden, and a bit melodramatic the reason to love this book is rather for the first half with the slow but genuine kinship between Maurice and Clive.
This is, of course, a gay novel perhaps the early prototype of the pandering, panegyric course which that genre has taken the road from internal struggle to external societal struggle, to personal acceptance and then to the not reached in Maurice ultimate acceptance and embrace from the society or community at large To be sure it is an interesting story, but with inevitable issue of being pigeonholed by its very protagonist s proclivities I have been thinking very much about the statement that gay novels don t sell and I would largely agree with this sentiment For the same reason gay movies don t sell, etc Of course there is the significance of numbers homosexuals apparently constitute only ten percent of the population at large, a small market But if you consider the proliferation of successful black novels, for example, certainly there success rides not on their portrayed demographic, but rather the entire market I m sure very few of the devout readership of the Harry Potter series are wizards or other magically inclined persons, but they buy and read them nonetheless How important is it to share the characteristics of the protagonist or narrator I enjoy Lolita although I am not a pedophile and if anything have an aversion to children messy and whiny cretins that they are , I can read Jane Eyre and enjoy it despite my lack of female accouterments There are bestsellers about blind kids and autistic kids and black folks and Asian Americans and all sorts of minority demographics which the overall market for literature devour, with that minority voice being consider a testament to the literary value of the work So why isn t it the same for queer literature I confess that even I am not frequently moved by it, unremoved as I am, unless it is an otherwise moving narrative, such as Baldwin s Giovanni s Room Homosexuality is a unique struggle, I think, and should make for compelling literature, but yet it is hard to portray Unlike race, gender, ethnicity, it is a very internalized characteristic, which can t be seen with the eyes at all without a high percent of false positives, anyway It is a matter of the heart, a matter of desire A novel can be written with a black protagonist and they can desire anything success, love, freedom, etc anything But for a novel to be a gay novel that particular sexual desire is prone to the foreground, as in the present novel, as in Giovanni s Room et cetera Perhaps the best portrayal of homosexuality is The Great Gatsby, wherein I would contend that Nick Carraway is gay something alluded to indirectly if not obtusely throughout the novel, but far from canonically agreed upon But even Fitzgerald s ambiguous narrator fails to address the particular queer experience, and as such appeals to a wider audience Is it that the queer experience is too different, or is it that it is not different enough Perhaps it has the sense of being self indulgent I am not sure How can anyone be sure how their plight relates to anyone else s Perhaps literature helps, but certainly no one s struggle, real or fictional, is exactly the same.
And maybe it is for that reason that queer novels fail, as they do I don t feel that Fitzgerald or Melville, or Twain, or Lee, or whomever wrote what is considered the top contender meant to write the Great American Novel when he wrote The Great Gatsby or Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, etc he wrote the story of Jay Gatsby, of Nick Carraway et al That book, which is a compressed carbuncle of the human condition of one man, is one which appeals to many individuals, Americans etc.
, because we can see in another s struggle a glimmer of our own individual struggle Same in Jane Eyre, we see not an orphan struggling a very specific struggle, but rather an individual struggling against the every extrapolating problem of life I think it is perhaps the problem of the Gay novel that it tries to extrapolate itself, it is not internalized and it is not specific, it aims from the starting point to be universal to a small subsection of the population It tries to generalize the struggle of gay men or women, which is not the case in Maurice , and so loses its individual power Search for identity, for love, for acceptance, etc are all universal struggles, even for the most normal of individuals While the goal of literature may be to make the particular universal, it is only implicitly done It is impossible to make the universal particular.
The plight of Maurice is both particular and generalized, and so maybe it is a half failure or a half victory Maurice s struggles are particular to him the dynamic between he and Clive in particular is very much the friction between two individuals, the family pressure for Maurice to become the glittering replacement of his father in all ways is a problem unique to his family dynamic and the characters of his mother and sisters But his desires and feelings of alienation seem general, his fear of social rebuff seems general, roving, imprecise His initial self loathing does not seem to be informed, it is confused, misguided, it is not quite a religious affectation nor a societal concern, but a sort of fear of self This first apprehension to the idea of his love for Clive is believable, sympathetic, sincere But this phase lacks resolution Clive goes away and comes back changed, whether sincerely or insincerely as a matter of course Maurice pines for him, hates him, resents him, but ultimately his feelings for him are essentially the same at the heart of the matter, a sort of kinship But a lost fellowship Maurice s drive is not for love but rather for companionship This is by no means particular to the homosexual struggle, but poignant nonetheless Where the story begins to falter is the introduction of Scudder The reader must suspend his disbelief and take that love in a glance kind of love for granted The character of Scudder is scarcely fleshed out, and the reasons for Maurice s attraction seem to be vague at best The issue of gay love becomes highly generalized We have Maurice, who although fully fleshed out in character, his motives with Scudder seem to me to be missing Scudder on the other hand is almost a stock character, poorly characterized, maybe some form of Forster s ideal, which he imbues into Maurice s affections Whether their attraction is mutual loneliness or true love is left unclear, there is little or no rhetoric of love, there are few bases for attraction beyond the physical Yet we are left to believe in their mutual happiness, their rebirth and acceptance of each other washed clean of their sins and histories, their prejudices and prides His ideal of marriage was temperate and graceful, like all his ideals, and he found a fit helpmate in Anne, who had refinement herself, and admired it in others They loved each other tenderly Beautiful conventions received them while beyond the barrier Maurice wandered, the wrong words on his lips and the wrong desires in his heart, and his arms full of air.
Perhaps this is ultimately the point which Forster wants to make Is Maurice s arms full of air any worse than the marriage of convention and convenience achieved by Anna and Clive Is it better While Maurice is borne away on a seemingly generalized happy ending devoid of individual passions, Clive enjoys or suffers the same general fate Is Maurice happy at the book s resolution truly happy Or satisfied And what of Clive Have Clive s passions truly inverted during his trip to the Mediterranean While we are meant to believe that Maurice and Scudder have found in each other a lasting love and companionship, happiness, it is rather the passions between Maurice and Clive which endure in the reader after completing the novel It seems at one and the same time that the story of Maurice is both too long and too short Too long to be the story of Maurice and Clive, too short to be the story of Maurice and Scudder And so I am doubly dissatisfied That said it is a wonderful novel where it shines it truly is a wonder of literary craft, but where the brush is dropped there are prominent smears which disfigure the art.
Begun 1913Finished 1914Dedicated to a Happier Year Edward Morgan Forster 1879 1970 wrote Maurice as a relatively young man, aged 34, at a time when old Europe was starting to fall apart However, it was not published until 1971, a year after his death Maurice is probably the first literary work of fiction to deal with male homosexuality in such an open, sincere fashion At the time it was written, men in the UK could still be imprisoned for acts of gross indecency , as in the Oscar Wilde trial Publishing this book at that time would have destroyed the deeply admired English novelist Of course, E M Forster s readers had no idea that the author of very successful novels such as Howards End and A Passage to India loved men Nevertheless, he let his work be reviewed by his literary friends who knew of his sexuality He was loosely connected with the Bloomsbury Group , the literary and artistic circle with such prominent members as Virginia Woolf, Duncan Grant and Lytton Strachey For the time, the members of the Bloomsbury Group had a very open and unconventional approach to sexuality, and among this group E M Forster s novel could be discussed openly In public, however, he successfully covered up his sexuality, and I wonder if this might be one of the reasons why I found Forster s Howards End rather frigid and detached I second Katherine Mansfield when she complains about Howards End E.
M Forster never gets any farther than warming the teapot He s a rare fine hand at that Feel this teapot Is it not beautifully warm Yes, but there ain t going to be no teaIntroduction p xxiv.
Well, in Maurice, E M Forster pours hot boiling water over spicy tea leaves Forster intriguingly describes Maurice Hall s journey of self discovery and his sexual awakening Maurice comes from a conventional middle class background with a lukewarm mentality He is very much an average guy even though Forster describes him as rather good looking and athletic not very intellectual, and a bit arrogant His being sexually different initially comes across as a hindrance to his plans to follow in his deceased father s footsteps Maurice was stepping into the niche that England had prepared for him.
45 Nevertheless, early in the novel Forster gives hints that Maurice has always known he is different Maurice remarks early on I think I shall not marry , and he is rather baffled when he realises that he is overwhelmed by the fact that his mother s garden boy George with whom he used to play in the woodstack when he was a boy gave notice and left Maurice is, after all, a snob and he would never consider himself a friend of George Nevertheless, George s departure unsettles him and he does not really know why he has these special feelings Feelings of this kind become clearer when he moves to Cambridge for his studies and meets Clive Durham, with whom he fells in love Clive s pedigree is sophisticated he descends from landed gentry Clive is deeply torn about his sexuality, even though he makes the first step in admitting his feelings for Maurice Foster does not shy away from describing romantic moments between the two and he shows perfectly his skills in evoking beautyI knew you read the Symposium in the vac, he said in a low voice.
Maurice felt uneasy Then you understand without me saying How do you mean Durham could not wait People were all around them, but with eyes that had gone intensely blue he whispered, I love youp 48 Clive considers himself a Hellenist and he celebrates the love that Socrates bore Phaedo love passionate but temperate p.
85 They both set out on a philosophical journey of self discovery about their sexuality and their place in society Forster tries to be as open as possible in his depiction of them We learn that both, especially Clive, have misogynistic tendencies Alas, it is Forster himself who does not give the reader the opportunity to appreciate a fully rounded female character in his book This brings me to Forster s theory of flat and round characters In E.
M Forster s Aspects of the Novel, he explains The test of a round character is whether it is capable of surprising in a convincing way p.
81 Maurice in particular passes his creator s test with flying colours Even though he might be snobbish, arrogant and misogynistic at the beginning of the narrative, the reader cannot ignore how he develops into a tolerant and self aware person, capable of tender feelings What made this reader root for Maurice was his sincerity towards himself and thus his integrity Despite all his inner struggles, he allows himself to be who he is this makes him such an attractive character, not only to the reader but also to others characters in the book Of course, only we as readers know his innermost thoughts and feelings Forster offers us a deep insight into these thoughts, where we can learn how sincere and full of integrity Maurice becomes 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.
p 51 Indeed, he loses his first love to conformity Clive decides to adapt to his family s requirements and beautiful conventions and grows slowly away from Maurice Ironically, it is on Clive s journey to Greece that he lets Maurice know by letter that I have become normal, I cannot help it p.
101 Not long after, he marries and settles in at Penge his late father s estate as the squire everybody expected him to become Forster gives us only a few glimpses into Clive s inner thoughts and monologues, but they are enough to make the reader understand that Clive lives in denial and self deception One cannot write those words too often Maurice s loneliness it increased p.
124 In the meantime, Maurice goes through hell He begins to doubt his own sexuality and increasingly feels lonely Forster s description of Maurice s journey of self loathing and loneliness gets directly under the reader s skin These are powerful passages which help enormously in empathising not only with Maurice, but with thousands of other men in real life who have had to go through a similar hellYet he was doing a fine thing proving on how little the soul can exist Fed neither by Heaven nor by Earth he was going forward, a lamp that would have blown out, were materialism true He hadn t a God, he hadn t a lover the two usual incentives to virtuep.
126 He eventually seeks advice from a doctor he has befriended, confessing that he is an unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort I don t want to spoil the doctor s answer, but I can assure you that it did not help Maurice s self esteem at all It is on the peak of his crisis that he meets the third important character in the book Alec Scudder, the gamekeeper at Penge, Clive s estate Forster likes to let different characters from different social classes bump into each other, as his novel Howards End shows brilliantly Alec Scudder, the gamekeeper, who everybody in Maurice s circle simply calls Scudder , belongs to the class of outdoors men He is a man of nature with natural instincts The reader cannot really unravel his inner thoughts Forster leaves us almost in the dark This is certainly deliberate Scudder remains the active, pushy, slightly aggressive and sexually attractive, almost mysterious country lad for the reader Today he would probably be categorised as bisexual He instinctively feels Maurice s pain and reacts accordingly to his nature With Alec Scudder, Maurice eventually reaches sexual fulfilment They must live outside class, without relations or money they must work and stick to each other till death But England belonged to them That, besides companionship, was their reward p.
212 Alec Scudder, who in the book represents carnality, the rural and nature in comparison to Clive, who stands for the intellectual and platonic love will eventually be the key to Maurice s liberation Together with Maurice, the reader discovers, after several bumps in the road, the route to Maurice and Alec s happiness This happy ending to Forster s novel has much been discussed I was not entirely convinced, even though it has its roots in real life namely in the concept of Uranian love and the relationship between Edward Carpenter and George Merrill, who Forster visited in 1913 and who were an inspiration for this book I am not sure if it is really a happy ending for Maurice and Alec, but I think it was the best possible end to the book, given the socio political situation at the time Forster writes in his Terminal Note A happy ending was imperative I shouldn t have bothered to write otherwise p.
220 I, for my part, tend to agree with Forster s Bloomsbury friend Lytton Strachey, who wrote in a letter to E.
M Forster that the relationship of the two rested upon curiosity and lust and would only last six weeks Terminal Note, p 222 I can sympathise with Strachey s train of thought Maurice and Alec are first and foremost attracted sexually to each other and only later recognise that what unites them is the need to fight a common enemy Introduction, p xxii.
Despite these minor flaws, Maurice is still an important novel E M Forster wrote it in 1913 14 and revised it in 1960 In his Terminal Note, written in 1960, he recognises a change in the public attitude towards homosexuality the change from ignorance and terror to familiarity and contempt Terminal Note, p 224 Still, it took another seven years until the laws criminalizing acts of gross indecency by men were abolished in England Today, the legal situation in Europe has improved significantly one could only have dreamed of it fifty years ago This is of course a very positive development In the meantime, we should be aware that there are still nations where LGBT people are persecuted, incarcerated and even put to death for their sexuality The human race still has a long way to go Let me thus go a step further and suggest that it is not enough to implement legally protected equality, even though this must be an unalienable right We as a society ask our governments for rights which guarantee equality But, I ask myself, does society really embrace and integrate diversity in everyday life Forster writes pointedly We had not realized that what the public really loathes in homosexuality is not the thing itself but having to think about it Terminal Note p 224 I can only speak for my part of the world and my generation, but I feel part of a monolithic world where sexual diversity has not yet reached unconscious acceptance and self evident equality, and where definitions such as gay and homo are still used unconsciously as an insult Just look at the advertising industry, mainstream TV or cinema one rarely finds rainbow families or same sex couples And of course the male action hero is supposed to be heterosexual While there has been constant change for the better during the past few years, it is still slow and I am afraid we still have a long wait before there is a gay James Bond and nobody thinks anything of it Until then, books like Maurice have lost none of their relevance I highly recommend the Penguin Classics Edition with an introduction and notes by David Leavitt Uranians The term has its origins in Plato s Symposium, in which Pausanius argues that men who are inspired by Heavenly Aphrodite Aphrodite Urania as opposed to Common Aphrodite Aphrodite Pandeumia are attracted to the male sex their intention is to form a lasting attachment and partnership for life In the 1860s and 1870s, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs promulgated the German Urning, the English version of which was subsequently put into circulation by Edward Carpenter and the art historian John Addington Symonds Notes by David Leavitt, p 232.
At first, I thought rereading Forster s gay novel for a group discussion would be fun I liked it first time around and expected to like it as much this time Perhaps it was having watched the film since the first reading Maybe I couldn t prevent myself from picturing Hugh Grant in the role of Clive Durham and a young Rupert Graves in the role of Scudder whatever the reasons, rereading this novel, knowing where it was headed, made me impatient, made me angry, made me want to see the younger Hugh Grant shoved face down over a table, depantsed, and deflowered in the most aggressive way But, that s just me.
Forster s novel remained a featherbed of cozy, enveloping language The early scene in which Mr Ducie, a senior at Maurice s preparatory school and a man who felt the obligation to instruct Maurice in the mystery of sex complete with a diagram drawn in the sand on a beach, then abandoned, and too late realized, left to be discovered by other casual strollers of both sexes Oh my was still funny The developing relationship between Maurice and fellow Cambridge student Clive Durham was still touching in its intimacy and affection but then, but then, but then That relationship stalls at intimacy Maurice is coaxed by Clive, led on if you will , only to reach a wall a wall of this far and no further After outing himself, Clive seemingly has no out to arrive at His bold confession to Maurice is overstated, leaving Maurice confused and wanting While this novel is certainly a matter of time and place, the Platonic relationship just doesn t ring true for a contemporary understanding The British stereotype the conservative, asexual, slightly effeminate my apologies, good Brits, but we are talking stereotypes, not realities registers as alien in modern readers of anything other than Christian fiction.
And it was this alienation from the characters that left me thinking, Jesus Christ, Maurice, hammer him nail his ass show the lame fucker what he s wanting but is too caught up in an ideal to grab But, of course, that won t do We all know what rape is there s never good reason for it to occur even in fiction Poetic justice and poetic injustice are opposite sides of the same coin They re really two ways of saying the same thing.
The poetic justice, if such a thing exists, is Clive s ultimate settling for passionless marriage while Maurice moves on power to him.
I don t regret rereading Maurice It s still fine story telling and plotting A reader has to understand that Forster, writing when he did, could only imagine, only hope for, a better time when people were able to be who they are, without fear of social or legal repercussion I think I ve been spoiled three decades and still going with my own partner makes me both generous and selfish It makes me wish others had, or could have, what I have just not MINE.