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Maurice by E. M. Forster
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Maurice

by E. M. Forster

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,505362,420 (3.97)85
  1. 20
    A Passage to India by E. M. Forster (li33ieg)
    li33ieg: The man is brilliant! One should read all of his books!
  2. 10
    A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr (1502Isabella)
  3. 10
    The Obelisk by E. M. Forster (DitisSuzanne)
  4. 10
    Why We Never Danced the Charleston by Harlan Greene (lucybrown)
    lucybrown: Both books examine young men coming to terms with their homosexuality in a time period when it was entirely unaccepted, even illegal. Forster's book is set in the late Victorian England (1914)and Greene's 1920s Charleston, SC. Both are well written though stylistically different.… (more)
  5. 00
    The Charioteer by Mary Renault (emanate28)
    emanate28: Understated, loving, and in a way heartbreaking depiction of love between two men in repressive British society.
  6. 00
    Tell it to the Bees by Fiona Shaw (MinaKelly)
  7. 00
    Stalky & Co. by Rudyard Kipling (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Maurice is kind of a Stalky grown-up to be gay.
  8. 00
    The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt (Booksloth)
  9. 00
    Simple Man: The Autobiography of Peter West by Ruadhán J. McElroy (youngsoulrebel)
  10. 01
    Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin (jonathankws)
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English (31)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Left unpublished until after Forster's death, this novel is distinguished by having a happy ending. Maurice is not an artistic sensitive soul> Forster claimed to have made his protagonist so far as possible, his opposite in character, having in common only their homosexuality. The work was written in 1913 and is, of course, extremely dated.
  ritaer | Aug 21, 2014 |
SPOILERS BELOW

The titular protagonist of Maurice is a prime example of emotional and sexual repression that functions as a reflection of English society as a whole. In boyhood, Maurice is told that when he is an adult he will find a wife and start a family, that such a path is the right and expected one to take. Maurice's internal emotional response is “liar, coward, he’s told me nothing …” (15). Early in the novel, Forster illustrates the socially constructed nature of heterosexual union and family life by this rejection. Maurice’s first real acknowledgement of his identity occurs when he is at Cambridge and he falls for Clive. Clive expresses non-normativity through his disavowal of religion and belief in god, and their conversations about this lead to breeching the subject of Plato’s Symposium and homosexuality. Their actual acknowledgment of their feelings for each other takes longer to manifest, and at least for Clive their relationship and desire for each other remains perpetually entrenched in intellectual terms. Maurice saw Clive’s long tangents while they embraced as “charming nonsense”, and this sort of fashioning of erotic intimacy into intellectual exercise foreshadows Clive’s later rejection of Maurice and integration into “normal” society.

While Maurice throughout the novel gradually discovers himself and his identity, Clive rejects his as a schoolboy immaturity and outright malady, trying to help Maurice to also become normal. Maurice’s reappearing self doubt and attempts to “fix” himself manifest through work and psychiatric treatment. According to Quentin Bailey, “by focusing on work, a privileged mode of existence in the imperial realm, Maurice strives to overcome his surprisingly ‘native’ predilections” (337)1. As Clive has masked himself in social convention and respectability, Maurice tries to do the same through work. By doing so, he tries to establish a purpose within himself, but this failing, he must retreat from a mode of privilege into a mode of “disease”. He succumbs to the notion that he not in need of distraction, but of a cure, and thus he is sick. He moves from the privilege of work to the otherness of mental disease.

Maurice’s sexual encounters with Alec, the gamekeeper, affirm this otherness through class difference and “by pleasuring the body […] he had confirmed his spirt in its perversion” (214). With Clive, same sex love manifested only in abstract intellectualism, but it is through Alec that Maurice realizes physical passion between men. In his and Clive’s own class, sodomy is not permissible, not among “gentleman”. By subverting class allegiances and fully experiencing his sexuality, Maurice realizes his otherness.

Alec’s threats of blackmail to Maurice are tools, perhaps the only ones available to him, to express his sorrow at Maurice’s avoidance of him after their first encounter. Maurice realizes “he had understood Alec’s infamy through his own–glimpsing, not for the first time, the genius who hides in man’s tormented soul” (226). In recognizing first the love of the body, and then in recognizing his similarity to Alec as one who is apart from society, and then his love for Alec, Maurice realizes and then affirms his otherness, allowing him to at last locate and assert his identity. ( )
  poetontheone | Apr 6, 2014 |
I found Maurice and his relationships with Clive and Alec quite sweet and touching. Clive, I expected better from you! ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
This book is achingly beautiful, I remember thinking when I read this. It's infused with such strong emotion, and as a result, Forster is able to convey love and relationship in a way that transcends gender and sexual orientation. I lived it with him. Wonderful. ( )
  ZenMoon | Mar 31, 2013 |
First off, Maurice has the peculiar honor of having been read by me serially from three separate books - two in different libraries and one in the Yale Bookstore. This happened not out of reluctance to finish it, but because I spent a lot of time hanging around New Haven recently without a library card. Finally I got it out from the library and finished it today.

It's a totally charming book! I am a sucker for early 20th century Britain with its mixture of Victorian ideals and modern ideas, its cricket and country estates and class snobbery and public school slang. Maurice in particular was written on the cusp of WWI and represents the end of an era. I enjoyed Forster's poetic yet didactic style, which sometimes produces effects invisibly and sometimes sits down and tells you how it is in classic storyteller fashion.

The human interactions were real, romantic, and moving. Maurice could have become a mere argument piece or allegory, and certainly it had a strong message about English society and the English class system, but its characters felt, for the most part, alive on the page.

Maurice is about what it means to be, in Forster's words, "embedded in society" and defined by its expectations and strictures. His Romantic vision of freedom from social bonds is more cheerful than other novels on the subject - The Mill on the Floss and The Age of Innocence, for instance, have rather less optimistic forecasts - but I think Maurice's bravery in prescribing a happy ending is really something.

Because, yes, Maurice is a novel about a gay man, written in 1914. Not only that, it actually manages to be a good novel and not merely a self-aware protest piece, and the main characters don't die or end up in an asylum or in loveless marriages or alone for eternity. They live happily ever after. (Spoiler, yes, but this is basically how the book advertises itself on every jacket copy I've seen. This is why it's really worth reading.)

Forster knew no one would publish it. As he explains in the postscript, written forty-six years later, "it will probably have to remain in manuscript. If it ended unhappily, with a lad dangling from a noose or with a suicide pact, all would be well, for there is no pornography or seduction of minors. But the lovers get away unpunished and consequently recommend crime."

The extreme irony that nearly a century later we think Brokeback Mountain (a great movie, don't get me wrong) shows how progressive popular storytelling has become, when it's the same gay tragedy that's been retold for the last ninety years.

There actually is a film of Maurice from the eighties. Starring Hugh Grant as Clive! That might have to go on the top of my soon-to-be-purchased Netflix queue.... ( )
1 vote raschneid | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
added by gsc55 | editSinfully Sexy, Mark (Jan 8, 2014)
 
Includes link to "new" essay
added by gsc55 | editBand of Thebes, Laurence Scott (Jul 7, 2013)
 
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Once a term the whole school went for a walk - that is to say the three masters took part as well as all the boys.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393310329, Paperback)

"The work of an exceptional artist working close to the peak of his powers." Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, this story by a master novelist introduces us to Maurice Hall when he is fourteen. We follow him through public school and Cambridge, and on into his father's firm, Hill and Hall, Stock Brokers. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every way, "stepping into the niche that England had prepared for him": except that his is homosexual. Written during 1913 and 1914, immediately after Howards End, and not published until 1971, Maurice was ahead of its time in its theme and in its affirmation that love between men can be happy. "Happiness," Forster wrote, "is its keynote. In Maurice I tried to create a character who was completely unlike myself or what I supposed myself to be: someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad businessman and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"The work of an exceptional artist working close to the peak of his powers."-Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, this story by a master novelist introduces us to Maurice Hall when he is fourteen. We follow him through public school and Cambridge, and on into his father's firm, Hill and Hall, Stock Brokers. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every way, "stepping into the niche that England had prepared for him": except that his is homosexual. Written during 1913 and 1914, immediately after Howards End, and not published until 1971, Maurice was ahead of its time in its theme and in its affirmation that love between men can be happy. "Happiness," Forster wrote, "is its keynote...In Maurice I tried to create a character who was completely unlike myself or what I supposed myself to be: someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad businessman and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him." Written during 1913 and 1914, Maurice deals with the then unmentionable subject of homosexuality. More unusual, it concerns a relationship that ends happily.… (more)

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