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2010 Challenge Archive > Maurice by E.M. Forster

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message 1: by Jennefer (last edited Mar 04, 2010 10:34AM) (new)

Jennefer (jenneferpracticex3) | 247 comments A romance with a "controversial" happy ending?
Book: Maurice
Maurice by E.M. Forster
Author: E.M. Forster
Duration one month

About the book: 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."

The novel was made into a film Maurice (1987), directed by James Ivory and starring James Wilby as Maurice, Hugh Grant as Clive and Rupert Graves as Alec.

Plot: Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, this story by a master novelist introduces us to Maurice Hall when he is fourteen. We follow him through public school and Cambridge, and on into his father's firm, Hill and Hall, Stock Brokers. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every way, "stepping into the niche that England had prepared for him": except that his is homosexual.

Discussions: How do you think this work would have been received had it been published when it was written (1914)? Would that have had an effect on the rest of E.M. Forsters life and career? What do you think of the happy ending?

Some insight about the novel: An Interpretation E. M. Forster's Maurice
by Rob Doll



message 2: by Jennefer (new)

Jennefer (jenneferpracticex3) | 247 comments I probably will not be starting this until a little latter in the month but I wanted to post this now in case some people wanted to read this as a challenge read (good for the monthly "M" title and/or for the Read the Month Challenge).

I would love to hear what others have to say about this novel. I am very excited to read it. It just amazes me that something like this was written in 1914!


message 3: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 721 comments I have this one but I don't think I can get to it in March. I'll put it in my April reading list.


message 4: by ~Sara~ (new)

~Sara~ | 659 comments I'll read this with you. I need some time to get it from the library but it should be in soon. I'm going to watch the movie after if anyone wants to discuss that with me. :)


message 5: by FlibBityFLooB (new)

FlibBityFLooB I'm already planning to read this one this month, so I'll be happy to discuss ;)

I've seen the movie, but I have no idea how much it differs from the book...


message 6: by Jennefer (new)

Jennefer (jenneferpracticex3) | 247 comments Oh yay! I am so happy to have some company to read this! I am planning to watch the movie after I read the book as well so we can all chat about that too :)


message 7: by FlibBityFLooB (new)

FlibBityFLooB I finished the novel today and re-watched the movie. I think that the movie was a fairly good adaptation and stayed true to the spirit of the book. It had some dialogue verbatim from the text.

**** Spoilerish discussion follows ****
There were a couple of things that happened in the movie that I don't remember in the book. One example would be Clive's old Cambridge buddy being arrested for soliciting a gay interlude. I don't remember reading that in the book... did I miss that somehow? I am guessing it was put in the movie to try and bring some rationale as to why Clive suddenly starts to lose interest in Maurice. In the movie, it seems more out of fear of being discovered in society. In the book, it seems more out of illness/fear of death.

It had been a while since I saw the movie in college (in the 1990s), so I had forgotten that Maurice ended up with Alec. That was a happy ending.

I don't think that EM Forster could have gotten away with having this published in the early 1900s. Much too taboo for the time period. Then again, look at Oscar Wilde... Perhaps I'm wrong?


message 8: by KimKirt (new)

KimKirt | 1638 comments Hi Jennefer!

I'll try to get to this one this month, it looks like it will be something different and something that would interest me!


message 9: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 721 comments I watched the movie - which was good. I'm really going to try to fit this in this month.


message 10: by Jennefer (new)

Jennefer (jenneferpracticex3) | 247 comments Hey Kim and Carolyn! I am so glad you are interested in reading this with me!!! Yay! :)


message 11: by Jennefer (new)

Jennefer (jenneferpracticex3) | 247 comments OK! I am finally starting this today!!! Whoo hoo!!!


message 12: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 721 comments I'm planning on reading it this weekend. It's a small book so hopefully I can get through it before the end of the month.


message 13: by ~Sara~ (new)

~Sara~ | 659 comments I'm starting it tomorrow.


message 14: by ~Sara~ (new)

~Sara~ | 659 comments ***Mild Spoilers***
Maurice was a good book but there were a few spots that I found confusing. I would've given it 4 stars if I understood it better. There were times were I didn't get what the author was saying because a word didn't seem to fit. Maybe, since the book is nearly 100 years old, the word's meaning has change so is no longer used the way Forster did? Also, there were a few places where it felt like he was leaving things out and I'm not used to reading between the lines so much. This happened a lot between Maurice and Clive - some of the dialogue didn't make sense to me or didn't suit their actions. I found it was clearer as the book went on.
I really liked the way it ends with Maurice talking to Clive and that's the last time he or Alec are heard from. I read a synopsis of the authors original epilogue online and I'm really glad he cut it. I think it would have ruined the ending for me.


message 15: by Jennefer (new)

Jennefer (jenneferpracticex3) | 247 comments Well I read this more than a week ago and still have not posted here because I felt like I needed to let it "settle" a bit before I decided what I really thought. Well I am still not sure exactly what I think but here I go anyway! LOL

First off, I enjoyed this very much. It was a pleasant short read that certainly kept my attention and I am glad I read it.

*Mild Spoilers*
I love that Forster gave Maurice a happy ending, although I would have liked it to be flushed out a bit more. Maurice and Alec just kind of met, slept together a couple of times and then decided to be together. I felt like I was not really given any reason to believe their relationship would have worked long term and I would have liked to see that. It's not like they were friends for a long time like Maurice and Clive were. So I was a bit disappointed there. On the other hand the fact that Forster chose to write this as a happy novel instead of a sad tale of heartbreak is pretty wonderful! It shows that Forster was optimistic about the fate of homosexual men and I love that.

I was not so crazy about the issue of the difference in social class coming up with Alec. It seems for the novel that for Maurice to learn to deal with his homosexuality would have been enough conflict for the book and the extra issue of class just muddled up the end in my opinion.
*End of Spoiler*

As far as EM Forsters life and career had he chosen to publish this novel druing his lifetime.... there is no doubt in my mind the rest of his life and career would have been different had he chosen to publish this (and therefore publicly come out) during his lifetime. It seems to me that had he chosen to publicly come out, his homosexuality would define him in the public eye like Oscar Wilde. Maybe he would have been just as successful maybe not but he certainly would have had a different public image.

I think I am going to try to read A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster when it is released May 11th. I would be interested in learning more about EM Forster and his life as a gay man.


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