Maurice, EM Forster (1971)

A devastating, but ultimately satisfying look at the sexual awakening of Maurice Hall. Written early in the 20th century at a time when homosexuality was a criminal offense, Forster chose to delay its publication until after he died. Published in 1971, a year after his death we follow Maurice to Cambridge with the assumption he will then follow in his late father’s footsteps and join the London business he and his partner started. At Cambridge Maurice falls for Clive Durham, a Classics major, but this relationship fails.

However, the realization of what living this life entails, that is, having to love in secret, being a pariah to society and family, the loneliness of perhaps never again finding another man like him fills Maurice with unbearable sadness. He quits university just before graduation and is accepted into the firm by his father’s partner. It is a pivotal time as the fear of a lifetime of loneliness bears down on him and thoughts of suicide plague him. Ultimately, Maurice begins to carve out a life as best he can even with the thoughts of an uncertain future.

There is light, though, and a reason to hang on….

This book made me sad at many points. It speaks of a different time than at present and it is important to grasp what gay men and Lesbians endured who dared to be true to themselves. Forster has a way with subtlety in his character portrayals that I really like. A hard, but important read.

Yes, the heart of his agony would be loneliness….An immense silence, as of death, encircled the young man, and as he was going up to town one morning it struck him that he really was dead….Under these circumstances might he not cease? He began to compare ways and means and would have shot himself but for an unexpected [illness and death of his grandfather].

When he came home and examined the pistol he would never use, he was seized with disgust; when he greeted his mother no unfathomable love for her welled up. He lived on, miserable and misunderstood, as before, and increasingly lonely. One cannot write these words too often: Maurice’s loneliness: it increased.

Dedicated to a Happier Year

Title: Maurice
Author: EM Forster
Publisher: WW Norton & Company
Date: 1971
Device: Trade Paperback
Pages: 255

Challenges: Back to the Classics

8 thoughts on “Maurice, EM Forster (1971)

      1. I do remember that Virginia Woolf described him as a beautiful blue butterfly that gently landed and then flew on. I think she was referring to the blue Adonis butterfly that they have in Sussex.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. A similar theme but in an entirely different context was evident in Sjón’s Moomstone which I read recently. I find it extraordinary that so many individuals feel threatened whenever the subject of homosexuality is raised or alluded to, though I’m pleased that in the UK at least acceptance is largely taken as a given in broadcast media and general discussion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many countries have certainly come a long way in their views of homosexuality and it would be interesting if Forster could get a glimpse of this. But there are plenty of places, sadly, where homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. And all because someone loves someone….

      Liked by 1 person

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