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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 1914, 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 1971, Maurice has been widely read and praised. It has been, and continues to be, adapted for major stage productions, including the 1987 Oscar-nominated film adaptation starring Hugh Grant and James Wilby.

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1971

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About the author

E.M. Forster

505 books3,467 followers
Edward Morgan Forster, generally published as E.M. Forster, was an novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. His humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be aptly summed up in the epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End: "Only connect".

He had five novels published in his lifetime, achieving his greatest success with A Passage to India (1924) which takes as its subject the relationship between East and West, seen through the lens of India in the later days of the British Raj.

Forster's views as a secular humanist are at the heart of his work, which often depicts the pursuit of personal connections in spite of the restrictions of contemporary society. He is noted for his use of symbolism as a technique in his novels, and he has been criticised for his attachment to mysticism. His other works include Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908) and Maurice (1971), his posthumously published novel which tells of the coming of age of an explicitly gay male character.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,053 reviews
Profile Image for Kasia.
69 reviews
May 11, 2019
listen that might be just my opinion but if a lgbt book from 1913 has a happy ending there is absolutely no excuse for gays dying in books in 2019
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,587 followers
June 2, 2021

E.M. Forster ( Howards End , A Room With A View ) finished this gay-themed novel in 1914, and though he showed it to some close friends, he didn't publish it in his lifetime. It eventually came out after his death, in the early 1970s.

What a gift to have a novel about same sex love written a century ago by one of the premier 20th century British authors!

When Forster penned Maurice, homosexuality was so taboo that there was no name for it. For a man to be with another man was a criminal offense. One of the most touching things about this very moving book is seeing the protagonist – the closeted, very ordinary stockbroker Maurice – struggling to describe who he is and what he's feeling. He eventually comes up with something about Oscar Wilde. So very sad.

But how triumphant for Forster to have written this book and dedicated it "to a happier year." No one would argue that this is Forster's best novel. But it's an invaluable document about a group of men who experience the love that dare not speak its name (to borrow from Wilde).

I appreciate the fact that Maurice, unlike Forster himself, is a very unremarkable man: he's conservative, a bit of a snob, not very interested in music or philosophy and rather dull. But he's living with this extraordinary secret that affects his entire life. And the book shows how he deals with it, in his secretive relationship with his Cambridge friend Clive Durham, and later with gamekeeper Alec Scudder.

It would have been so easy for Forster to write a novel about a sensitive, soulful, brilliant, sympathetic character. How could we not love him, even though he's gay? But that seems to be part of his point. Maurice is a middle-class Everyman – certainly he's not as intelligent as Clive – but isn't he as worthy of love as anyone else?

Some details in the book are dated. The language at times feels stilted. The class system isn't as pronounced today as it was then. And of course there's a whole new attitude towards homosexuality and thousands of books to reflect that.

But there are still people and organizations trying to "cure" others of homosexuality (think of the group Exodus); young people are still committing suicide because of their sexuality; gays and lesbians are still choosing to live a closeted life by marrying members of the opposite sex; and let's not forget that in some parts of the world, being gay is cause for death.

So really: how dated is this book?

Considering that authors decades after Forster wrote veiled gay characters in straight drag, or killed off one or more characters (see: Brokeback Mountain), how revolutionary is it to have a gay love story with a happy ending?

It's absolutely revolutionary.

Now: who's going to write the sequel?
Profile Image for Carolyn Marie  Castagna.
290 reviews6,216 followers
September 26, 2021
Maurice is a book, among few others, where I’d like to not only share a select few quotes with you, but transcribe the whole story from start to finish. I’d also love to delve deep into the story behind the book, and its creator E. M. Forster. Maurice is “his story” in two senses of the term: firstly, it is a story that was born from his mind and his hand, and secondly, from his own experiences. 

He begins this book with the dedication: “Begun 1913, Finished 1914, Dedicated to a Happier Year.” Forster made arrangements to have it remain unpublished until after his death in 1970. At the time that he wrote this, homosexuality was illegal in England. A character from Maurice says at one point in the story, “England has always been disinclined to accept human nature.” Homosexuality was eventually legalized in 1967, just 3 years before Forsters death. Imagine waiting and wishing your whole life for your own country's acceptance, and getting it at age 88. Out of his 91 years of living, only 3 were ones of legal freedom. While reading about Maurice’s own internal struggle, I couldn’t help but feel that Forster was using Maurice as a way to give voice to his own private toil. “He had awoken too late for happiness, but not for strength, and could feel an austere joy, as of a warrior who is homeless but stands fully armed.”

Forster showed, in a heartbreaking yet beautiful way, how Society can influence people to the point of dishonesty. Forced to put up walls between their true self and who they think they should be. Leading to them not only betraying who they “love,” but betraying themselves. One of the characters askes the other, “After all, is not a real Hell better than a manufactured Heaven?” 

At times Maurice being a “gentleman” seemed sexist, elitist, and proud. Yet, there comes a point when station, position, sex, and education don’t matter. That is the profound truth about love, it conquers all. “He 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.”

Being a novelist, Forster had a power that neither England, God, or anyone could tamper with. That is, he could give Maurice the life and ending that was never given to himself. He held the pen, he was Maurice’s creator, and being so meant that he was in control of his own character’s fate. Fiction warrants everything, all the author needs to do is write. “At times he entertained the dream. Two men can defy the world.”

E. M. Forster on writing the ending of Maurice:
“A happy ending was imperative. I shouldn’t have bothered to write otherwise. I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever that fiction allows, and in this sense, Maurice and _____ still roam the greenwood.”
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,095 reviews17.7k followers
January 2, 2021
The second dream is more difficult to convey. Nothing happened. He scarcely saw a face, scarcely heard a voice say, “That is your friend,” and then it was over, having filled him with beauty and taught him tenderness. He could die for such a friend, he would allow such a friend to die for him; they would make any sacrifice for each other, and count the world nothing, neither death nor distance nor crossness could part them, because “this is my friend.”

Maurice follows the story of Maurice, a gay man in the early 1900s, as he falls in love, gets his heart broken, and gets his heart repaired. This book hit me… really hard.

There are two love stories here, one between Maurice and his school partner, and one between him and a garden worker. In one of these, his class colleague asks for their relationship to never go beyond kissing; he is always at arms’ length, until he is discarded altogether. In one of these, he is free to love as he is, freed from the bounds of false intellectualism and performance.

It’s not clear from the summary how sectioned this book is, but it is decidedly split: the first half deals with Clive and the eventual breakdown of that relationship, while the second half deals with Maurice’s attempts to ‘cure’ himself and then eventually, with Alec. I found the first half of this novel interesting. The second half made me cry of happiness. It’s infused with so much more hope.

The final scene focuses point of view on Clive, framed in the light, while Maurice is a voice in the dark; that, though, is his happy ending. Maurice ends the novel in love in the dark, while Clive ends the novel thinking that his lack of love in the light is superior. (It is we, as the audience, who must make our own decisions on that matter.) I enjoyed the movie, which I saw before reading the book, a lot. Though it’s easy to quibble with certain changes made from the book to the movie, there’s one bit I particularly like: the final shot, in which Clive looks out at the greens, wondering what he could have had, had he not been afraid.

In so doing, Forster creates an idea of love in the dark as a positive thing. This reminded me of that quote from Black Sails:
“In the dark, there is discovery, there is possibility, there is freedom in the dark once someone has illuminated it.”
I love how Jami @JamiShelves put it in her review:
“Forster invokes the concept of the Greenwood as a metaphor for relationships existing outside the socially accepted framework for romance. The Greenwood exists as an unrestrained space, drawing connotations of 'the wilderness'. The country acts as a locus for desire, its existence outside the restraints of society and allowing desire to flourish unrestrained.”

There’s something profound about giving a happy ending to two men falling in love in a time where they were few and far between. In the outro, E.M. Forster says this:
“A happy ending was imperative. I shouldn't have bothered to write otherwise. I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows, and in this sense, Maurice and Alec still roam the greenwood.”

When this book was written, in 1913 and 1914, this seemed almost ridiculous, that two men could fall in love, and not marry, and be happy. Forster wrote this novel almost to challenge that idea. This book could not even published until after his death, in 1971, and was then incredibly controversial. This book made me feel like I believe in love again.

Also, and this is only a minor spoiler, but I think about this scene a lot:
“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.”

TW: conversion attempts & suicidal ideation.

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Profile Image for Jasmine.
104 reviews190 followers
April 9, 2023
"Begun 1913
Finished 1914
Dedicated 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 tea " (Introduction 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.” (p.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 more 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 beauty:

‘I knew you read the ‘Symposium’ in the vac,’ he said in a low voice.
Maurice felt uneasy.
‘Then you understand – without me saying more –‘
‘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 you.’
(p. 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 more 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 hell.

“Yet 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 virtue.” (p.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).
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
679 reviews3,947 followers
January 21, 2020
“I think you’re beautiful, the only beautiful person I’ve ever seen. I love your voice and everything to do with you, down to your clothes or the room you are sitting in. I adore you.”

this book sent me all the way through it and I was genuinely moved by the tenderness.. the yearning... the way e.m forster wrote a happy ending for two men because he thought it was time gay men got to be happy in fiction... the explorations of class and freedom and longing... Maurice's journey to self-discovery and coming of age ... the way that clive his first love is depicted and the closure he gets from him .. the fact the end of this book is literally "I fucked your gamekeeper in your bedroom and then in a hotel and now I realise I don't care for you at all gotta bounce!".. also e.m forster has such beautiful and emotional writing

“A happy ending was imperative. I shouldn't have bothered to write otherwise. I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows, and in this sense, Maurice and Alec still roam the greenwood.”

I adore this book and e.m forster
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews489 followers
October 5, 2022
Maurice is said to be Forster's homage to same-sex love. It is so. Belonging to the same lot, Forster must have felt a strong need to express himself through fiction. When he wrote it in the early part of the 20th century, the time was not ripe for its publication. Same-sex love was an offense in England, in which criminal charges can be brought, so Forster had to wait till a better time. It never came during his lifetime, although homosexuality was legalized in England by the end of the 1960s. And though the book was published posthumously, Maurice will remain an important work of Forster and gay literature.

The novel isn't autobiographical. Forster stresses that. He says that he wanted to make his main character, Maurice, so unlike him - "someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, ... and rather a snob". But the emotions are his. You can feel that in every sentence.

The story is focused on Maurice and his awakening to his own sexuality. Maurice doesn't understand his own nature until he was "shocked" into finding the truth about him through his Cambridge friend, Clive. Theirs was a platonic relationship, however, and this continues for few years. But even during this time, they both are aware of their precarious situation. Both young men, out of Cambridge, are expected to carry on the torch that is handed over to them. They are expected to marry and contribute to the next generation. Forster writes about Maurice: "The thought that he was sterile weighed on the young man with a sudden shame". Maurice knows that he is physically alright, but he is mentally impeded and cannot carry on the duties expected of him. The matter is made worse by the knowledge that he cannot live by the accepted notions of society. Although he keeps the knowledge a secret from it, deep down he knows that he is a "social outcast". But the crisis isn't that. It is yet to come to Maurice in the form of a moral blow, mentally agonizing himself to the point of suicide. This is when Clive becomes "normal" (in which it is to be understood that he was becoming attracted to women) and decides to end their "friendship". Now Clive can carry the torch, whereas Maurice had to burn in its flames. The agony that Maurice goes through amounting to utter madness is heartbreaking. Forster's portrayal of Maurice in his crisis is sincere and touching. "I swear from the bottom of heart I want to be healed. I want to be like other men, not this outcast whom nobody wants" is his soul's outcry. But Forster offers Maurice a chance of heeling through Alec Scudder, a man of a lower class than him. Through his relationship with Alec, Maurice experiences a full sexual awakening which helps him ultimately to defy the barriers of class, conventions, and normality to finally find his true self and with it, happiness.

Forster confesses he wanted to write a happy ending for Maurice. Perhaps, he wanted to see people like him having happier futures like other men in their own choosing. To be a homosexual or heterosexual is not a choice. We don't "choose" to be one or the other. It's part of our human nature. It's beyond our doing and cannot be controlled by us. The English lack of understanding of this simple truth comes under severe criticism from Forster when he says that "England has always been disinclined to accept human nature". During Forster's life several attempts were made to legalize homosexuality although not successful till towards the end of 1960s. However, although couldn't be legalized, these legal manoeuvers should have brought social knowledge and through knowledge, sympathy, understanding, and acceptance. But to Forster's utter dismay, none came. When Maurice goes to consult a doctor to find whether he could be "healed" of his homosexuality, he daren't utter the word. Instead, he says “I am an unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort!” Imagine how one would feel if one cannot express his own true nature even to a doctor. Forster wants to bring to light through Maurice this unfair social prejudice against a section of men who in return had to suffer "hell" in enduring it.

The centerpiece of the novel is Maurice's story, yet, Forster doesn't abandon Clive. Due to some physiological change, he becomes what we call today a bisexual, and Forster shows us that he has no easy time either. Clive's relationship with his wife is mostly platonic. He suffers from belonging to two different worlds and is desperately trying to find some ground through politics. Through all these expositions, Forster, quite honestly, shows the true side of human nature. He seems to say that being muddled is part of human nature and that it's quite alright. And he invites social sympathy and understanding to heal these confused sufferers.

The story of Maurice is nothing much. And the personalities of the characters make them quite aloof. But Forster catches the attention of the readers with his beautiful, thought-provoking, and emotional awakening writing. He makes us question whether much has changed from his time. We are now in the 21st century, yet, even at present, we can see enough Maurices being persecuted socially. Although in many countries homosexuality is legally accepted, this hasn't completely altered their situation as social outcasts. Some cultures still look at homosexuals with disgust. Legality cannot bring acceptance, only human sympathy and understanding can. And that is what we must thrive to achieve as Forster dreamt in his Maurice.
Profile Image for Flo.
276 reviews85 followers
June 30, 2023
It feels so good to find a book like Maurice that I can appreciate despite its imperfections. Trying to judge it too objectively would mean rejecting the connection I felt with it.

It is the best book by Forster that I have read. Objectively, it has probably aged the least. But more importantly, this gay treasure, kept secret by its author his entire life (an irony that aligns too much with the history of gay people, forced to remain hidden for so long), has an intoxicating hope for gay love. Perhaps times have changed, but I believe we still need this hope.
Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 2 books2,951 followers
June 15, 2018
Possibly my new favourite book of the year so far. I absolutely loved this one - beautiful, moving, such a powerful read.
Profile Image for Puck.
670 reviews303 followers
January 30, 2018
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 time.

“He 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 more 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 more 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.”
Profile Image for morgan.
142 reviews77 followers
June 3, 2023
oh my goodness oh my goodness oh my goodness
oh my fucking god this was heavenly
Profile Image for Mark.
357 reviews161 followers
February 17, 2013
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 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, 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. 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. A character that 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 normal for this day and age and attitudes from society, you would have no other choice but to stay firmly in the closet and remain there! An extremely lonely feeling.

This book was far ahead of its time, therefore the publication 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 from a master 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.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
153 reviews716 followers
May 7, 2023
Talvolt alcuni classici vengono messi in discussione, in specie riguardo alla loro rilevanza nella società attuale. Cos'è rilevante se non le esperienze che gli esseri umani hanno da sempre vissuto? Maurice, quindi, non può non essere definito come il più rilevante dei classici.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,513 reviews29.4k followers
August 31, 2021
One of E.M. Forster's lesser-known novels, Maurice is a classic gay love story that was ahead of its time.

Wait, what? I’m not only reading a backlist title but also a classic? Look at me, expanding my horizons!!

Maurice was written in 1913 and 1914, but Forster (author of A Room with a View and Howard's End , among others) knew that publishing it would destroy his career. He stipulated it couldn’t be released until after he died. It was published in 1971.

While certainly much of the language used in the book is very old-fashioned and some (if not all) if the attitudes around class are different, it’s amazing how ahead of his time Forster was.

This is the story of Maurice, a young man we first meet when he is 14. It follows him through his education and his path toward the life expected of him. But when he strikes up a friendship with a fellow classmate, he realizes how different his life is from what he thought, and how ultimately he needs to follow his own path in order to be happy.

Who would’ve thought you’d ultimately get a gay Edwardian love story with a happy ending, not one where the characters are trapped in marriages of convenience or something worse happens? The movie adaptation of Maurice is wonderful—it was one of the first gay love stories I saw.

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about people reviewing classics long after they were published. While I think it’s difficult to view a classic in a sphere different than the one in which it was written, it’s fascinating to find a book so ahead of its time yet it needed to be hidden until much later.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Patrick Doyle.
Author 7 books101 followers
May 22, 2023
I wouldn't be the first to say how much this book affected me when I first read it. The goodness of the main character reflected my own desire to be 'good' at the time and, like him I was unable to achieve my goal. Thank gawd for that! The read was wonderful but hard, primarily because the author/the character resorted to the same dead-end solutions that many of us have since. Only his honesty makes it bearable. He’s such an attentive observer, especially of himself. One example comes to mind. During hypnosis, he cries out. “I like short hair best. ' 'Why?' 'Because I can stroke it -' and he began to cry.” He didn’t pull that out of thin air. Those tears were his.
Profile Image for David.
163 reviews528 followers
May 30, 2014
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.

Profile Image for Mel Bossa.
Author 29 books195 followers
July 13, 2016
Oh my God, I won't forget this book. Maurice and Alec forever.
Off I go to read more 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...
Profile Image for luce (that loser crying on the n° 2 bus).
1,437 reviews4,047 followers
August 27, 2021
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3.5 stars (rounded up)

“No tradition overawed the boys. No convention settled what was poetic, what absurd. They were concerned with a passion that few English minds have admitted, and so created untrammelled. Something of exquisite beauty arose in the mind of each at last, something unforgettable and eternal, but built of the humblest scraps of speech and from the simplest emotions.”

There is much to be admired in E.M. Forster's Maurice. While it saddening to think that although he wrote Maurice in the 1910s he was unable to publish the novel during his lifetime, Forster did at least share it with some of his closest friends.
Maurice follows the titular character of Maurice Hall from boyhood to adulthood. In the opening chapter a teacher, knowing that Maurice's father was dead, feels the need to educate him on sex. Maurice however doesn't find this conversation enlightening, if anything it cements his aversion towards women and marriage. It is perhaps this incident that makes Maurice begin to question his sexuality. Although he never does so explicitly, his otherwise privileged existence is marred by self-questioning and doubt. Throughout the narrative Forster depicts the way in which homosexuality was regarded in the early 20th century: Maurice himself doesn't know what to make of his desire towards other men. The country's general attitude towards “unspeakables of the Oscar Wilde sort” range from pure denial, so they will dismiss homosexuality as “nonsense”, or “condemn it as being the worst crime in the calendar”.
At university Maurice becomes acquainted with Clive Durham. Clive, unlike Maurice, is a scholar, and lover, of ancient Greek philosopher and is apt to quote their teachings. While Maurice is simply enamoured with Clive, Clive wishes to attain a higher form of 'love' (“love passionate but temperate, such as only finer natures can understand,”) and believes that by being with Maurice their “two imperfect souls might touch perfection”. Unlike Maurice, Clive finds the idea of their becoming physical intimate to be distasteful, implying that it would spoil their relationship.
When the two are no longer at university together the two no longer have many opportunities to spend time together. their physical in their relationship, Clive insists on adhering to his ideal of love. Later on, Maurice finds himself pursuing a relationship with Alec, Clive's gamekeeper.
The first half of the novel brought to mind Brideshead Revisited. This is quite likely to the university setting and the various hierarchies there are at play there. Both Maurice and Clive come from wealthy families. They are fairly pretentious, prone to make snobbish remarks, and are fairly misogynistic. Forster himself points out all of their flaws and is unafraid of poking gentle fun at them. Because of this I felt less disinclined towards them, even if I didn't strictly like them.
This isn't a particularly happy novel. There is bigotry, self-loathing, heartbreak, and suicidal contemplation. At one point Maurice is diagnosed with 'congenital homosexuality' and even attempts to 'cure' himself by way of a hypnotist. Yet, Forster's prose is full of beauty. There are plenty of stunning passages in which he discusses and contrasts romantic and platonic love (Clive/Apollonian vs. Maurice/Dionysian), physical and intellectual desire, or where he describes beautiful landscapes. Forster adds a poetic touch to negative emotions such anguish and despair, so that even when his narrative never really succumbs to the darkness experienced by Maurice and his moments of introspection carry definite beauty.
Perhaps the thing that kept from loving this as much as Forster's A Room with a View is the lack of chemistry...Alec appears towards the end and in no time Maurice seems in love with him. Alec's personality is somewhat reduced to his being of a lower class. Still, while Maurice may not join what I consider to be the holy trinity of classic LGBT literature (for those who are wondering: The Charioteer, Giovanni's Room, and The Price of Salt/Carol) I still think that it is a brave and illuminating novel (Forster's afterword alone is worth reading).

Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
Profile Image for eliana 。⋆୨୧˚.
69 reviews180 followers
December 16, 2022
So tender and intimate; I almost felt like I was intruding in on the characters. Where authors like Wilde and Waugh skirt around the subject, Forster presents a firm, bitter condemnation of English homophobia. I'm astonished that Forster wrote about the subject so bluntly and with so much vision in 1913, especially considering he completed it at a time when Maurice and Alec's love was law-defying. I guess it's because above all else, Maurice is clearly a very personal story.

There might not be much going on between the lines—but the fact that Forster refused to write a bleak ending, just so there was at least one story in the world where gay lovers could be happy, even if it was unrealistic, is social commentary enough for me.
Profile Image for * A Reader Obsessed *.
2,217 reviews454 followers
January 17, 2019
4 Stars

I’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.
Profile Image for Jessica.
593 reviews3,365 followers
October 25, 2007
A beloved college professor used this novel as his starting point for a glorious Humanities lecture on "The Unspeakable Vice of the Greeks." Except for the time I fell down the stairs of the lecture hall and dislocated my shoulder, that's pretty much the only morning I remember from my freshman year.

I love Forster's attitude toward his characters, which is similar to one a social worker might have towards his clients: he doesn't romanticize them and sees all of their faults, even emphasizing important weaknesses, but never in a critical way and ever with an eye to the characters' strengths and what's good in them, and always with such powerful, empathic -- yet uniquely, subtly distanced -- affection. He wants us to understand them, and seeks to clarify their motivations and make sense of their actions, which he does through illumination of their internal worlds. Ultimately, in doing so, he locates and describes their humanity, which reaffirms his concept of humanity in general, and so makes a certain circular sense of what he's doing.... If only people'd write psychosocials with Forster's skill! Oh, well. In any case, E. M. probably would've been a great social worker, but I'm still glad he chose writing instead.

Maurice is also worth reading if only because it's got what I personally remember as the most ridiculous ending in modern literature.
Profile Image for George Ilsley.
Author 12 books237 followers
February 10, 2022
2022 update:
I appreciate this novel more on this reading, fresh from experiencing the story from the gamekeeper's point of view in Alec, and also fortified with insights from Forster himself in his Terminal Note in Maurice, written in 1960. Forster credits Edward Carpenter for his contributions; I looked into his life as well. All of this to say that these sources were bubbling in the background as I read Maurice.

It no longer reads to me as something unfinished or unpolished. Forster says "the book certainly dates" but that is part of its appeal, being so firmly rooted in the early 1910s when so much of life, seemingly permanent, was to be swept away by world events.

2015 review:
When I originally read this I felt frustrated by the restraint, in the text and especially in the relationship between Clive and Maurice. This time around, blessed with a little more of what I like to call life experience, I appreciated the book more. It is a kind of historical document, a glimpse of a way of life which was soon to be changed by World War I.

I wonder what this book would have been like if Forster had felt that it could be published and he worked on it more seriously with the help of an editor, and had otherwise treated it just like one of his other books. Instead, what we are left with is a glimpse of what might have been.
Profile Image for Lin.
218 reviews4 followers
May 26, 2017
One of my favourite novels, and incidentally the one I wrote my MA thesis on. Maurice is, for all intents and purposes, a dime-a-dozen love story and a period piece. The only twist is that this love story concerns two men, which was unheard of in the time that it was written (1913). Forster wrote it mainly as a therapeutical effort, having grown tired of not being able to write about the kind of love that interested him the most, as a homosexual male. Published 60 years after it was written, Maurice was still a first of its time, and a decidedly sparkling and endearing read. The ending is sentimental, yes - but why should a love story not be allowed to have a sentimental ending?
Profile Image for Lucy.
417 reviews626 followers
May 18, 2022

That was amazing. I don’t think more can be said that hasn’t be said before.

This tugged in my heart strings and I am glad for a happy ending.
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews201 followers
August 8, 2018
Maurice is a novel that isn't perfect, but that is beautiful in its imperfection. A bit of an unpolished diamond, I might add, like some other classics I remember fondly despite their minor flaws. I admit it's been a while since I read this novel, and I never really found the time to reread it, which is a shame, but I do have an old review of mine at hand, and I will use it to remind myself. Recently I have read Dandy, a contemporary novel with a similar theme of homosexual love set in past times, and since then I couldn't stop thinking about Maurice.

Maurice is a story of homosexual love in twentieth century England. Written in 1913- 1914, and revised a few times, this novel was finally published in 1971. Should we talk a bit about about the date of publication? It is worth mentioning that this book was not published when it was written, but considerably later- due to its controversial nature. Moreover, at the time it was published it was practically illegal and would not have been able to escape censorship. It's an odd things, a book that was written in one time period but published in another.

I always felt that books that have not been published in their time are almost like organisms that never lived fully or rather like those antarctic bugs that can be frozen and come alive again after half a century. By that I mean that these kind of books never got the change to live in their time, be reviewed, and to be put into context. They're like lost ships wondering the seas, until we discover them some day. They're like distant legends one senses but never sees...until they reappear in one shape or other and then you have that feeling of meeting a relic from the past. Even those who read these books immediately after upon publication probably had seen them as a thing past or at least belonging to another time. There is something different about them.

Where to start? Maurice is, in many way, an exceptional novel and I still remember how enchanted I was by it. Perhaps it is best to start with the opening of the story. The story opens up with a fourteen year old Maurice, who already dislikes the idea of future marriage. We follow Maurice through his university days, where he falls in love with Clive, a close friend who shows him the ancient Greek writings about same sex love. Maurice is very committed to Clive, but with time it seems that Clive becomes more open to a standard way of life.

The idea behind the story had great potential. It is clear that it was very important to the writer to get it just right. Fortunately, Forester succeeded. He developed the story to its potential. Not to its fullest potential perhaps, but he has done a great job nevertheless. At times Forster took the explanations a bit to far. While reading, I was sometimes a bit startled to find out that the omniscient narrator is explaining everything (including the things that in my view did not need explanation) but that shows something of a writer's dedication.

The story is not completely credible and perhaps it is not intended to be, especially towards the end. The author said that he wanted the ending that could not happen in real life. He had his reason and I respect that. The ending made the book not publishable, but that was the cost he was willing to pay for his artistic vision to come to life. Sometimes, when authors write semi-autobiographical stuff or to pass on some belief, they ruin the novel. Forester did not do that. The faults in this novel are all minor.

It was an interesting choice to put so much faith in some parts of the novel, or so it seems to me. What I'm trying to say is that some parts really capture the essence, especially towards the end. I had a sense that if one or two scenes did not work out, the novel would not be as good. (Luckily, they did.) On the other hand, the majority of novel everything is spelled out for you. I think I have already said that, though. There is some repetition in the descriptions and the explanations, but it's nothing overbearing.

The characterization is very good. The novel is dominated by man figures, but taking the subject matter into consideration that is no wonder. (I would be nice if there could have been some interesting woman character somewhere in there, but maybe that too does not fit in with the context?). Anyhow, this novel features an interesting set of characters.

Maurice, the protagonist is analyzed in detail. His inner struggled are at the center so it was important that he was credible. For the most parts, he really was. There were some odd moments, when it seems he was trying something just for the sake of the plot. Alex was perfect. Bolt out of the blue, but made sense, really good characterization. He is also the character I must sympathized with, although he does not get much space in the novel. Clive is…somewhat not defined. Maybe Clive is a type character, especially towards the end- he becomes a symbol for somebody set up in his ways, a snob.

One of the themes of this novel is class. Being raised in today's society one has to struggle to understand some things. Modern European societies do not really have such a strong class distinction, so reading about it took some getting used to. In other words, a reader needs to put in some effort to try to look at it from the perspective of characters. Probably modern day England isn't so divided, so they too probably have to look at books like this one from distance. This problem of class is portrayed very clearly in this novel although it comes into focus only towards the end. I would say that the main themes of this novel are personal freedom, sexual identity and class identity. Everything else is in the background or so it seems.

Part four of the novel put a big grin on my face, especially the ending. Who cares if it felt a bit rushed? What matters is that it felt right! The writing was very good, the characters were approachable, and the subject matter was of great interest to me. I would say Maurice is still relevant. The theme of density struggles that often come hand in hand with homosexual love isn't dated. Moreover, this book is well written, intelligent and original. To be candid, Maurice was more than I expected it to be. I wasn't expecting the emotions portrayed to be so vividly, and even if those emotional passages were often short, they had great force in them. Well, I think that is pretty much all I have to say about this novel. All in all, it was a very enjoyable novel.
Profile Image for Greg.
1,863 reviews18 followers
June 15, 2017
When I first started reading this book, I kept thinking, "I've read this before...when?" but a quarter of the way through this novel I realized I was thinking about Forster's "A Room With A View", a book I read years ago and liked very much. The two books are almost mirror images of each other and have many similarities.
1-Both books mostly take place in the early 1900s in England. (And, they may very well have been written at about the same time. "Room" was published in 1908 while "Maurice" was completed in 1914 but was not published until 1971 due to the subject matter (see below).
2-Both main characters, Marice and Lucy Honeychurch (of "Room") are members of an upper class.
3-Both first become involved with characters of their same class. Maurice with Clive and Lucy with Cecil.
4-Both Maurice and Lucy struggle against the basic roles they are expected to play. Maurice is expected to remain in his upper class and marry in that same class, but Maurice rebels, as he is gay. Lucy wants to break the chains placed on women and go her own way, make her own decisions, much to the chagrin of her fiancé (who proposes to her three times before she finally succumbs to him and to her family's pressure).
5) Both separate from their first relationship: Clive breaks off with Maurice because he (Clive) wants to live a "correct/good" life and thinks he will prosper through a sham marriage. Lucy breaks off with Cecil, realizing he is extremely pretentious and silly man (in comparison to a man she has met on a trip to Italy.)
6) Both wind up with partners below their social class. Lucy with George and Maurice with Alec.
7) For both Lucy and Maurice, there is an instant attraction to/from George and Alex, respectively.
But there is one big difference. "Room" is lighter in tone, mostly because it CAN be lighter, as Lucy can indeed live her life as she wants, in front of friends and family. Maurice is darker, and when Clive leaves him bitter and alone, Maurice seeks professional help: one person suggests that he (Maurice) go for a walk with a gun, but a final doctor simply tells Maurice that men like him have been around forever, that's just the way it is. Maurice accepts himself while Clive, at the end of the book, sadly has to consider how he will conceal the truth of his own life from his wife.
8) And finally, both books have a "happily ever after ending" for Lucy/George and for Maurice/Alec.
Forster knew very well that the public would accept "Room" but not "Maurice", hence "Maurice" was published posthumously. But one of the great things about "Maurice" is that this book avoids the slurs that begin to appear within this genre in, for example, Vidal's "The City and the Pillar" in the 1940s and continue, sadly, to this day.
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