"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 into his father's firm. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every wayexcept 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."
|Publisher:||W. W. Norton & Company Limited|
About the Author
E. M. Forster was one of the major novelists of the first half of the twentieth century. He was born in 1879 and educated at Cambridge. His other novels include A Room with a View, Howards End, and A Passage to India. He died in 1970.
Date of Birth:January 1, 1879
Date of Death:June 7, 1970
Place of Birth:London
Place of Death:Coventry, England
Education:B. A. in classics, King's College, Cambridge, 1900; B. A. in history, 1901; M.A., 1910
Read an Excerpt
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. It was usually a pleasant outing, and everyone looked forward to it, forgot old scores, and behaved with freedom. Lest discipline should suffer, it took place just before the holidays, when leniency does no harm, and indeed it seemed more like a treat at home than school, for Mrs Abrahams, the Principal's wife, would meet them at the tea place with some lady friends, and be hospitable and motherly.
Mr Abrahams was a preparatory schoolmaster of the old-fashioned sort. He cared neither for work nor games, but fed his boys well and saw that they did not misbehave. The rest he left to the parents, and did not speculate how much the parents were leaving to him. Amid mutual compliments the boys passed out into a public school, healthy but backward, to receive upon undefended flesh the first blows of the world. There is much to be said for apathy in education, and Mr Abrahams's pupils did not do badly in the long run, became parents in their turn, and in some cases sent him their sons. Mr Read, the junior assistant, was a master of the same type, only stupider, while Mr Ducie, the senior, acted as a stimulant, and prevented the whole concern from going to sleep. They did not like him much, but knew that he was necessary. Mr Ducie was an able man, orthodox, but not out of touch with the world, nor incapable of seeing both sides of a question. He was unsuitable for parents and the denser boys, but good for the first form, and had even coached pupils into a scholarship. Nor was he a bad organizer. While affecting to hold the reins and to prefer Mr Read, Mr Abrahams really allowed Mr Ducie a free hand and ended by taking him into partnership.
Mr Ducie always had something on his mind. On this occasion it was Hall, one of the older boys, who was leaving them to go to a public school. He wanted to have a "good talk" with Hall, during the outing. His colleagues objected, since it would leave them more to do, and the Principal remarked that he had already talked to Hall, and that the boy would prefer to take his last walk with his school-fellows. This was probable, but Mr Ducie was never deterred from doing what is right. He smiled and was silent. Mr Read knew what the "good talk" would be, for early in their acquaintance they had touched on a certain theme professionally. Mr Read had disapproved. "Thin ice," he had said. The Principal neither knew nor would have wished to know. Parting from his pupils when they were fourteen, he forgot they had developed into men. They seemed to him a race small but complete, like the New Guinea pygmies, "my boys". And they were even easier to understand than pygmies, because they never married and seldom died. Celibate and immortal, the long procession passed before him, its thickness varying from twenty-five to forty at a time. "I see no use in books on education. Boys began before education was thought of." Mr Ducie would smile, for he was soaked in evolution.
* * *
From this to the boys.
"Sir, may I hold your hand. ... Sir, you promised me. ... Both Mr. Abrahams's hands were bagged and all Mr Read's. ... Oh sir, did you hear that? He thinks Mr Read has three hands! ... I didn't, I said 'fingers'. Green eye! Green eye!"
"When you have quite finished —!"
"I'm going to walk with Hall alone."
There were cries of disappointment. The other masters, seeing that it was no good, called the pack off, and marshalled them along the cliff towards the downs. Hall, triumphant, sprang to Mr Ducie's side, and felt too old to take his hand. He was a plump, pretty lad, not in any way remarkable. In this he resembled his father, who had passed in the procession twenty-five years before, vanished into a public school, married, begotten a son and two daughters, and recently died of pneumonia. Mr Hall had been a good citizen, but lethargic. Mr Ducie had informed himself about him before they began the walk.
"Well, Hall, expecting a pi-jaw, eh?"
"I don't know, sir — Mr Abrahams' given me one with 'Those Holy Fields'. Mrs Abrahams' given me sleeve links. The fellows have given me a set of Guatemalas up to two dollars. Look, sir! The ones with the parrot on the pillar on."
"Splendid, splendid! What did Mr Abrahams say? Told you you were a miserable sinner, I hope."
The boy laughed. He did not understand Mr Ducie, but knew that he was meaning to be funny. He felt at ease because it was his last day at school, and even if he did wrong he would not get into a row. Besides, Mr Abrahams had declared him a success. "We are proud of him; he will do us honour at Sunnington": he had seen the beginning of the letter to his mother. And the boys had showered presents on him, declaring he was brave. A great mistake — he wasn't brave: he was afraid of the dark. But no one knew this.
"Well, what did Mr Abrahams say?" repeated Mr Ducie, when they reached the sands. A long talk threatened, and the boy wished he was up on the cliff with his friends, but he knew that wishing is useless when boy meets man.
"Mr Abrahams told me to copy my father, sir."
"I am never to do anything I should be ashamed to have mother see me do. No one can go wrong then, and the public school will be very different from this."
"Did Mr Abrahams say how?"
"All kinds of difficulties — more like the world."
"Did he tell you what the world is like?"
"Did you ask him?"
"That wasn't very sensible of you, Hall. Clear things up. Mr Abrahams and I are here to answer your questions. What do you suppose the world — the world of grown-up people is like?"
"I can't tell. I'm a boy," he said, very sincerely. "Are they very treacherous, sir?"
Mr Ducie was amused and asked him what examples of treachery he had seen. He replied that grown-up people would not be unkind to boys, but were they not always cheating one another? Losing his schoolboy manner, he began to talk like a child, and became fanciful and amusing. Mr Ducie lay down on the sand to listen to him, lit his pipe, and looked up to the sky. The little watering-place where they lived was now far behind, the rest of the school away in front. The day was gray and windless, with little distinction between clouds and sun.
"You live with your mother, don't you?" he interrupted, seeing that the boy had gained confidence.
"Have you any elder brothers?"
"No, sir — only Ada and Kitty."
"So you don't know many men?"
"Mother keeps a coachman and George in the garden, but of course you mean gentlemen. Mother has three maid-servants to look after the house, but they are so idle that they will not mend Ada's stockings. Ada is my eldest little sister."
"How old are you?"
"Fourteen and three quarters."
"Well, you're an ignorant little beggar." They laughed. After a pause he said, "When I was your age, my father told me something that proved very useful and helped me a good deal." This was untrue: his father had never told him anything. But he needed a prelude to what he was going to say.
"Did he, sir?"
"Shall I tell you what it was?"
"I am going to talk to you for a few moments as if I were your father, Maurice! I shall call you by your real name." Then, very simply and kindly, he approached the mystery of sex. He spoke of male and female, created by God in the beginning in order that the earth might be peopled, and of the period when the male and female receive their powers. "You are just becoming a man now, Maurice; that is why I am telling you about this. It is not a thing that your mother can tell you, and you should not mention it to her nor to any lady, and if at your next school boys mention it to you, just shut them up; tell them you know. Have you heard about it before?"
"Not a word?"
Still smoking his pipe, Mr Ducie got up, and choosing a smooth piece of sand drew diagrams upon it with his walkingstick. "This will make it easier," he said to the boy, who watched dully: it bore no relation to his experiences. He was attentive, as was natural when he was the only one in the class, and he knew that the subject was serious and related to his own body. But he could not himself relate it; it fell to pieces as soon as Mr Ducie put it together, like an impossible sum. In vain he tried. His torpid brain would not awake. Puberty was there, but not intelligence, and manhood was stealing on him, as it always must, in a trance. Useless to break in upon that trance. Useless to describe it, however scientifically and sympathetically. The boy assents and is dragged back into sleep, not to be enticed there before his hour.
Mr Ducie, whatever his science, was sympathetic. Indeed he was too sympathetic; he attributed cultivated feelings to Maurice, and did not realize that he must either understand nothing or be overwhelmed. "All this is rather a bother," he said, "but one must get it over, one mustn't make a mystery of it. Then come the great things — Love, Life." He was fluent, having talked to boys in this way before, and he knew the kind of question they would ask. Maurice would not ask: he only said, "I see, I see, I see," and at first Mr Ducie feared he did not see. He examined him. The replies were satisfactory. They boy's memory was good and — so curious a fabric is the human — he even developed a spurious intelligence, a surface flicker to respond to the beaconing glow of the man's. In the end he did ask one or two questions about sex, and they were to the point. Mr Ducie was much pleased. "That's right," he said. "You need never be puzzled or bothered now."
Love and life still remained, and he touched on them as they strolled forward by the colourless sea. He spoke of the ideal man — chaste with asceticism. He sketched the glory of Woman. Engaged to be married himself, he grew more human, and his eyes coloured up behind the strong spectacles; his cheek flushed. To love a noble woman, to protect and serve her — this, he told the little boy, was the crown of life. "You can't understand now, you will some day, and when you do understand it, remember the poor old pedagogue who put you on the track. It all hangs together — all — and God's in his heaven, All's right with the world. Male and female! Ah wonderful!"
"I think I shall not marry," remarked Maurice.
"This day ten years hence — I invite you and your wife to dinner with my wife and me. Will you accept?"
"Oh sir!" He smiled with pleasure.
"It's a bargain, then!" It was at all events a good joke to end with. Maurice was flattered and began to contemplate marriage. But while they were easing off Mr Ducie stopped, and held his cheek as though every tooth ached. He turned and looked at the long expanse of sand behind.
"I never scratched out those infernal diagrams," he said slowly.
At the further end of the bay some people were following them, also by the edge of the sea. Their course would take them by the very spot where Mr Ducie had illustrated sex, and one of them was a lady. He ran back sweating with fear.
"Sir, won't it be all right?" Maurice cried. "The tide'll have covered them by now."
"Good Heavens ... thank God ... the tide's rising."
And suddenly for an instant of time, the boy despised him. "Liar," he thought. "Liar, coward, he's told me nothing." ... Then darkness rolled up again, the darkness that is primeval but not eternal, and yields to its own painful dawn.CHAPTER 2
Maurice's mother lived near London, in a comfortable villa among some pines. There he and his sisters had been born, and thence his father had gone up to business every day, thither returning. They nearly left when the church was built, but they became accustomed to it, as to everything, and even found it a convenience. Church was the only place Mrs Hall had to go to — the shops delivered. The station was not far either, nor was a tolerable day school for the girls. It was a land of facilities, where nothing had to be striven for, and success was indistinguishable from failure.
Maurice liked his home, and recognized his mother as its presiding genius. Without her there would be no soft chairs or food or easy games, and he was grateful to her for providing so much, and loved her. He liked his sisters also. When he arrived they ran out with cries of joy, took off his greatcoat, and dropped it for the servants on the floor of the hall. It was nice to be the centre of attraction and show off about school. His Guatemala stamps were admired — so were "Those Holy Fields" and a Holbein photograph that Mr Ducie had given him. After tea the weather cleared, and Mrs Hall put on her goloshes and walked with him round the grounds. They went kissing one another and conversing aimlessly.
"Now I must give my Morrie a lovely time."
"Such a splendid report from Mr Abrahams. He says you remind him of your poor father. ... Now what shall we do these holidays?"
"I like here best."
"Darling boy ..." She embraced him, more affectionately than ever.
"There is nothing like home, as everyone finds. Yes, tomatoes —" she liked reciting the names of vegetables. "Tomatoes, radishes, broccoli, onions —"
"Tomatoes, broccoli, onions, purple potatoes, white potatoes," droned the little boy.
"Turnip tops —"
"Mother, where's George?"
"He left last week."
"Why did George leave?" he asked.
"He was getting too old. Howell always changes the boy every two years."
"Turnip tops," she continued, "potatoes again, beetroot — Morrie, how would you like to pay a little visit to grandpapa and Aunt Ida if they ask us? I want you to have a very nice time this holiday, dear — you have been so good, but then Mr Abrahams is such a good man; you see, your father was at his school too, and we are sending you to your father's old public school too — Sunnington — in order that you may grow up like your dear father in every way."
A sob interrupted her.
"Morrie, darling —"
The little boy was in tears.
"My pet, what is it?"
"I don't know ... I don't know ..."
"Why, Maurice ..."
He shook his head. She was grieved at her failure to make him happy, and began to cry too. The girls ran out, exclaiming, "Mother, what's wrong with Maurice?"
"Oh, don't," he wailed. "Kitty, get out —"
"He's overtired," said Mrs Hall — her explanation for everything.
"Come to your room, Morrie — Oh my sweet, this is really too dreadful."
"No — I'm all right." He clenched his teeth, and a great mass of sorrow that had overwhelmed him by rising to the surface began to sink. He could feel it going down into his heart until he was conscious of it no longer. "I'm all right." He looked around him fiercely and dried his eyes. "I'll play Halma, I think." Before the pieces were set, he was talking as before; the childish collapse was over.
He beat Ada, who worshipped him, and Kitty, who did not, and then ran into the garden again to see the coachman. "How d'ye do, Howell. How's Mrs Howell? How d'ye do, Mrs Howell," and so on, speaking in a patronizing voice, different from that he used to gentlefolks. Then altering back, "Isn't it a new garden boy?"
"Yes, Master Maurice."
"Was George too old?"
"No, Master Maurice. He wanted to better himself."
"Oh, you mean he gave notice."
"Mother said he was too old and you gave him notice."
"No, Master Maurice."
"My poor woodstacks'll be glad," said Mrs Howell. Maurice and the late garden boy had been used to play about in them.
"They are Mother's woodstacks, not yours," said Maurice and went indoors. The Howells were not offended, though they pretended to be so to one another. They had been servants all their lives, and liked a gentleman to be a snob. "He has quite a way with him already," they told the cook. "More like his father."
The Barrys, who came to dinner, were of the same opinion. Dr Barry was an old friend, or rather neighbour, of the family, and took a moderate interest in them. No one could be deeply interested in the Halls. Kitty he liked — she had hints of grit in her — but the girls were in bed, and he told his wife afterwards that Maurice ought to have been there too. "And stop there all his life. As he will. Like his father. What is the use of such people?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Maurice"
Copyright © 1994 E.M. Forster.
Excerpted by permission of RosettaBooks.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was very thought provoking. It can be looked at in two ways, which makes this a versitile book to readers. The first way you can read this book is purely for entertainment. You might need to have some inside research to understand the intellectual conversations that occur, but other than that this book makes sense without having to dig further into the words. On the other hand, the book holds a lot to be discovered and can easily by critically analyzed. This book makes you think about your own idea of 'normal' and 'natural'. It can even change your perspective on the boundaries of relationships. If homosexuality is something you are opposed to I would recommend you not to read this, unless you are willing to look at it with an open mind.
This is a good read, whether or not you are a homosexual. Forster's descriptions of the torment and soul-searching that come with finding affection and love speak to the experience of adults in general. Although his writing style can be a bit antiquated, this was not difficult to overcome and at many points you find yourself saying 'yeah...I know exactly what that feels like'. Now, as a young gay man in my early 20s who is just recently dealing with some of the special issues portrayed in the story, I found it particularly touching. I realize many heterosexuals probably wouldn't appreciate some of the subtle points Forster is getting at along these lines, but these aspects made the book especially relevant to my experiences. I became absorbed in the story, and I would caution that it should be read in a slow, meticulous way, digesting the scenes and relating with the characters. Plowing through in a few hours would not provide as good a reading experience. Perhaps then, my current life situation made this book seem particularly good to me, where another avid reader might disagree. As a relatively normal, masculine, average guy who (unfortunately?) is also a homosexsual I connected with the main character particularly well. I would definately urge any college aged guys who are dealing with their sexuality to check this out. I would also suggest it to anyone curious about what young guys in this situation must through...on those points it has definately not lost it's relevance.
Imperfect, but lovely.
Spoilers follow. When I write a review, I often avoid discussing plot points, but in this novel, as in much of Forster¿s work, the interest lies far more in the telling than the plot. In fact, it is interesting to see how much warmth and life Forster can impart to such a simple story. (Boiled down to the bare essentials: Maurice Hall gradually becomes aware of his homosexuality and enters into a chaste but loving relationship with Clive Durham; Clive reverts to (or purports to revert to) heterosexuality and marries; Maurice visits Clive at his estate, Penge, and sleeps with his gamekeeper, Alec Scudder, and after some more conflict between Maurice and Alec, the book ends happily.)Much of the warmth comes from the typical Forsterian personality of the book, the tone often ironic but not cruel, critical but loving, and filled with poignant, lofty rhetoric. As another reviewer stated, Forster ¿captures the thrill of discovering your sexuality and capacity for loving another human being,¿ of coming to truly understand someone. ¿Love was harmonious, immense,¿ as Clive falls in love with Maurice; ¿He poured into it the dignity* as well as the richness of his being, and indeed in that well-tempered soul* the two were one.¿ When Maurice and Alec both panic and argue and threaten each other, it ends with Alec offering Maurice his hand. ¿Maurice took it, and they knew at that moment the greatest triumph ordinary man can win . . . He rejoiced because he had understood Alec¿s infamy through his own¿glimpsing, not for the first time, the genius who hides in man¿s tormented soul.¿Forster also gives life to the story through careful and liberal use of symbolism and imagery. In Forster, objects and descriptions are never wasted, never exist in a vacuum, but always contribute to the power and emotion of the story. In the opening scene, young Maurice¿s schoolmaster, Mr. Ducie, cringingly informs him about "the mystery of sex¿ (which Mr. Ducie finds to be ¿rather a bother¿) as they stroll along a grey sea reflecting the colorless sky. He scratches diagrams in the sand, which bear no resemblance to any feelings or thoughts inside Maurice (who is not yet aware of his homosexuality, but cannot quite understand this uniting of male and female). Mr. Ducie waxes poetically and priggishly about Man and Woman and God, but it is silly and passionless rhetoric, and when Maurice says he shall never marry, Mr. Ducie invites Maurice and his future wife to dine with him ¿ten years hence.¿ Then they walk off and the tide erases the drawings behind them, and "darkness rolled up again, the darkness that is primeval but not eternal, and yields to its own painful dawn.¿This event is not wasted; Maurice alludes to it after he first sleeps with Alec, and Mr. Ducie¿s reappearance (probably some ten years hence!) during the chief conflict between Alec and Clive gives force, irony, and clarity to the situation. The colorless sea, the drawings in the sand, erased by the tide, are the sort of descriptive symbols that take a simple, straightforward scene and impart an unforgettable mythic, resonant quality. The windows at Cambridge and Penge, the primroses and the boathouse at Penge, Alec¿s gun, the imagined ¿crack in the floor¿ at the hypnotist¿s, these are the lifeblood of the work.Mirrors and echoes of characters and situations through the book provide further resonance and a pleasing sense of unity. Mr. Ducie¿s appearances are one example. The interplay of the Clive/Maurice and Alec/Maurice relationships provide the most parallels: Clive and Alec being, respectively, upper and lower class; richer and poorer; chaste and physical; blue-eyed and associated with the Blue Room at Penge, brown-eyed and associated with the Russet Room. Clive is first presented as homosexual, then heterosexual; when Alec first appears, he is flirting with two young women, but he then sleeps with Maurice. At the beginning, Clive and Maurice argue before Maurice climbs into Clive
A powerfully emotive book that brings to the surface the way homosexuality was repressed and made a taboo subject in early twentieth century Britain. Forster writes in a compelling and powerful way that brings sympathetic undertones to the character Maurice. This is the first Forster novel I have read and I was impressed. I will definately read more of his works.
Just finished reading Maurice by E. M. Forster. Originally written during 1913 and 1914, this inspiring and courageous novel was not published until 1971 after Forster's death. Why? Maurice was gay. As was Forster. Britain did not decriminalize homosexual sex between men over twenty-one if conducted in complete privacy until 1967. Forster was inspired to write Maurice during a visit to Edward Carpenter at Milthorpe, Sheffield, England, in 1913. He was touched by Edward's lover George Meredith on his "backside -- gently and just above the buttocks." "The sensation was unusual and I still remember it, as I remember the position of a long vanished tooth. It was as much psychological as physical. It seemed to go straight through the small of my back into my sides, without involving my thoughts. It if really did this, it would have acted in strict accordance with Carpenter's yogified mysticism, and would prove that at that precise moment I had conceived."Forster understates Edward Carpenter as someone whose "prestige ... cannot be understood today." Among many aspects to Edward's complex personality was an ethical socialist vegetarianism. The Grumpy Vegan highly recommends the film Maurice produced by Merhcant Ivory Productions as a faithful and sympathetic dramatization. Of course, read the book! Learn more about Edward Carpenter, a colleague of Henry Salt.
Like other Forster works (A Room With a View and Howards End, in particular) Maurice is a piece that would have pushed many societal envelopes at the time of writing; however, when read with only modern sensibility, it falters as unimpressive. This is only the case if the book is not read with the historical context in mind, and if you're reading it outside of this context, you might as well not bother to pick it up. Fortunately, the reader is constantly reminded of the historical problems faced by the central character.Similar to other Forster novels, the subject matter is treated with tender care and not forced upon the reader simply to advance a "taboo." If the book had been published when it had been completed in 1914 instead of in 1971 (published posthumously), it would have outraged simply because of the thought of homosexuality, not because Forster forces homosexuality upon his reader. Forster seems to present his subjects in this manner to fool the typical English thinker into rooting for the characters, until a tragic "flaw" (tragic to the majority of Englishmen) is revealed and the reader is forced to consider where his/her loyalties lie and why they lie where they do.The protagonist Maurice Hall, knows from an early age that something is not quiet "normal" about him, though he is not sure what it is. Forster eases us into loving the awkward character (awkward because of his feelings, not due to physical appearance since he is a rather striking person). What is interesting about the novel is that it is not simply a study in homosexuality at a time when is was a criminal offense to act as a homosexual, but it is also a presentation of how societies react to people who are misaligned from the norm in a religious way, as well. Maurice battles with belief in an almighty God, and his first lover, Clive, is an outright atheist.Forster weaves two characters who cannot believe in the normal tenets of society, not for lack of trying, but simply because they cannot wrap their heads around what is normally accepted socially. Forster hints that Maurice is born with inherent differences that ultimately make him more beautiful that those who simply accept the status quo. Forster is perhaps at his best when Maurice attempts to "cure" himself through medicine, tracking down doctors who have eradicated his sexual "illness" in past patients with a certain degree of accuracy.As the book takes a turn toward cures, it became clear to me that this might be the first Forster novel I was going to read without a happy ending. After reading Howards End, I felt the happiness at the conclusion was a bit unrealistic and was only written so as not to disappoint the readers. While I thoroughly enjoyed Howards End, if Maurice was to have a happy ending, I figured it would end in the protagonist being cured and if that was the case, I probably would have burned my copy of the novel. Miraculously, Forster manages to squeeze out a beautiful ending to work. It is one marked with a twinge of melancholy, and remains wholly realistic. I won't do anything to spoil the plot, but I'd be highly surprised if you're not impressed by the way Forster ends this piece.After reading the "Terminal Note" following the novel, one finds that Forster poured dedication into this novel fully expecting to publish the book before he died. However, by the year 1960, views on homosexuality had changed direction, but had not taken the exact course Forster had hoped for. The author notes, "I...had supposed that knowledge would bring understanding. We had not realized that what the public really loathes in homosexuality is not the thing itself but having to think about it."Forster's effort to increase understanding and spur empathy for gay men was one that fell short of a wholly intolerant public. The staunch views on sexuality in general did nothing to help his cause, and it is a bit ironic since this is something tackled by one of the characters consummating his marriage: "[T]h
Maurice is an excellent book; it gives a glimpse into what life must have been like for homosexuals back in Edwardian England. It allows to reader to feel the empathy with the characters and truly gives the reader the opportunity to ingest some of the deep oppression felt by social conventions. Forester also goes deeply into his characters, giving us andecdotes for each one, allowing for more dyanamics between them. Interesting and complex characters as well. Overall, an amazing book that is truly provocative and captivating.
bookshelves: grabs-my-heart, top-all-time-books, 20th-century-classic, british-scot-irish, classics, have-not-recovered-yet, m-m, made-me-angry, made-me-cry, made-me-think, why-did-i-wait-so-long-to-read-this, historical-fiction Read from October 03 to 06, 2014 Loneliness. Stark loneliness. That is what surrounds this book and oozes from its pages. Maurice is lonely in a way it is hard for us in the 21st century to fully emotionally understand. He is not particularly smart, but as an adult is good at business. He is not a loveable character but he is honest. He is not "normal" by his society's standards so he tries to disappear into a nothingness in his surroundings. If he trusted the wrong person with his desires, he could be arrested and killed. What a bleak world to grow and live within. He wanted only one thing, to be loved for who he was and to have that love returned. Is that what all of us want. But to have to hide all that is you made Maurice a sympathetic character. To want love in the times he lived made him a tragic character. To think you have found that love and to have it tossed aside like it was nothing and have him carry on with his life made him a heroic character. I just want to send love though the pages to him. As a young lad Maurice dreamed private dreams that he could not share. First about a young gardener, then about a fellow footballer and last about an unknown friend, a friend he wanted but did not have. A faceless youth who would say to others "this is my friend." Dreaming again. Too late." --- would actually pull him back to them in broad daylight and drop a curtin. Then he would reimbibe(sic) the face and the four words, and would emerge yearning with tenderness and longing to be kind to everyone, because his friend wished it, and to be good that his friend might become more fond of him. Misery was somehow mixed up with all this happiness. It seemed as certain that he hadn't a friend as that he had one, and he would find a lonely place for tears, attributing them to the hundred lines. Maurice's secret life can be understood now; it was part brutal, part ideal, like his dreams. Then he was nineteen and off to college and he met Clive Durham. Clive who talked constantly about so many things that Maurice could not understand but he loved to listen to Clive. Clive who was like him. Clive who he thought would be in his life forever. Clive who owned his heart but did not realize the responsibility that went with that ownership. A beautifully written work that is not dated but alive with meaning and feeling. The terminology struck me. The words for same sex love also added to the feeling of disengagement and loneliness. I have gotten this also from the Lord Jim books/short stories by Diane Gabaldon. No matter how bad things may be in the western world of today, they were so much worse before our time. Does not make today right but does make me hopeful. Haunting. That is the word I am left with at the end of this near perfect book. Beautifully written and Haunting. Good luck to you in your life, Maurice. You are real to me.
Maurice by E. M. Forster Although the book was written in 1913-14, it was not published until 1971. Maurice is the tale of three men in Victorian England, all of which belonged to different social classes yet shared one common trait: they were all homosexuals. Maurice Hall - the main character - is the son of a middle class stock broker. His father had died when Maurice was a child and he was raised by his mother and two sisters. He went to a preparatory school, then to a public school and later to Cambridge. He was average, handsome, athletic, stubborn, and snobbish. He was admitted to Cambridge where he was expected to finish school and join the Stock Broker firm that was established by his father, Hill and Hall. While at Cambridge, Maurice met Clive Durham. Born to an aristocratic family, Clive was supposed to finish Cambridge, get married and inherit his family's estate. However, Clive liked men. Soon, Clive and Maurice are in a platonic relationship. For the next three years, as they returned back to fulfill their expected roles, they maintained an intense love relationship until one day, out of the blue, when Clive decided to end it. Clive married Lady Ann Claire Wilbraham Woods. Maurice was reduced to accept charity from his prior lover as Clive ran for public office to fill his father's shoes. Clive maintained himself busy to avoid his old lover and encouraged him to marry. "He would live straight. not because it matter to anyone now, but for the sake of the game." (p. 62) Maurice was unable to do that and sought professional help, first from his family doctor - Dr. Barry - and later from a hypnotherapist - Mr. Laskes Jones. "When loves flies it is remembered not as love but as something else." (p. 120) On a visit to Penge - the Durham's estate - Maurice met Alec Scudder, Clive's gamekeeper. Their physical attraction was physical, strong, an immediate. They made love, they fell in love. But Alec was a gamekeeper, a member of the lower class. Alec was supposed to emigrate to Argentina, but it did not matter because Maurice was unable to bring himself to have a relationship with a member of the lower classes. After his return back to London, Alec wrote letters to Maurice. At first Maurice was very concerned - fearing blackmail - but it soon became clear that Alec was desperately trying to win Maurice back. After they met in London, Maurice realized that Alec was willing to give up his future to be together with him. Maurice decides to give up his position in society to be able to live with his boyfriend. The books ended with a final confrontation between Maurice and Clive, where Maurice told Clive: "You care for me a little bit, I do think,....but I can't hang all my life on a little bit....You don't worry whether your relationship with her (Anne) is platonic or not, you only know it's big enough to hang a life on. I can't hang mine on to the five minutes you spare me from her and politics....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....You belong to the past." ( p. 245). Told from the third person point of view, this is a tale of love and betrayal. A tale of Victorian England where homosexuality was illegal and scorned equally by all society. Although it was finished in 1914, it was not published until 1971. A great read....
A beautifully-written book that more or less is good for a long think. The author doesn't favor one character over another, and the plot moves at a nice enough pace that the pages turn easily for the reader. Delving into a homosexual relationship can either be done horribly or excellently, and E.M. Forster has produced a touching novel with realistic characters that, honestly, made my heart ache for them on more than one occasion.
Set and written in the early 1900's, this novel follows mostly upper-class English folk. Unfortunately, the language and writing style used from the time period is exactly what I found stopping me from enjoying this book. Although I love British slang (I could watch Ab Fab & Extras all day long), my adoration seemed to stop here. The language barrier also stopped me from fully connecting with the main character. While the story becomes interesting in a few places (especially from a historical perspective), if you're not into old upper-class English you will probably find this annoying to finish.