UK first edition cover
|Author||E. M. Forster|
Maurice is a novel by E. M. Forster. A tale of homosexual love in early 20th-century England, it follows Maurice Hall from his schooldays through university and beyond. It was written in 1913–1914, and revised in 1932 and 1959–1960. Forster was close friends with the poet Edward Carpenter, and upon visiting his Derbyshire home in 1912, was motivated to write Maurice. The relationship between Carpenter and his partner, George Merrill, was the inspiration for that of Maurice and Alec Scudder.
Although Forster showed the novel to a select few of his friends (among them Christopher Isherwood), it was published only posthumously, in 1971. Forster did not seek to publish it during his lifetime, believing it to have been unpublishable during that period due to public and legal attitudes to same-sex love. A note found on the manuscript read: "Publishable, but worth it?". Forster was particularly keen that his novel should have a happy ending, but knew that this would make the book too controversial.
The novel has been adapted once for film and for the stage.
We first encounter Maurice Hall aged fourteen having a discussion about sex and women with his prep-school teacher, Ben Ducie, which takes place just before he progresses to his public school. This sets the tone for the rest of the novel, as Maurice feels removed from the depiction of marriage with a woman as the goal of life.
When Maurice enters university, he soon makes friends with fellow student Clive Durham, who introduces him to the ancient Greek writings about same-sex love. For two years they have a committed partnership, which they keep hidden from everyone they know. Maurice hopes for more from their attachment, but it becomes clear that Clive intends to marry. Clive eventually marries a woman and claims to be heterosexual.
Maurice is devastated, and gets a good job as a stockbroker. In his spare time, he helps to run a Christian mission's boxing gym for working-class boys in the East End, although under Clive's influence he has long since abandoned his Christian beliefs.
He makes an appointment with a hypnotist, Mr. Lasker Jones, in an attempt to "cure" himself. Lasker Jones refers to his condition as "congenital homosexuality" and claims a 50 per cent success rate in curing this "condition". After the first appointment, it is clear that the hypnotism has failed.
Maurice is invited to stay with the Durhams. There, at first unnoticed by him, is the young under-gamekeeper Alec Scudder (called Scudder for large passages of the book), who has noticed Maurice. One night, a heartbroken Maurice calls for Clive to join him. Believing that Maurice is calling for him, Alec climbs to his window with a ladder and the two spend the night together.
After their first night together, Maurice panics and refuses to answer Alec's letters. Because of his treatment of Alec, the latter threatens to blackmail Maurice. Maurice goes to Lasker Jones one more time. Knowing that the therapy is failing, he tells Maurice to consider relocating to a country where same-sex relationships are legal, such as France or Italy. Maurice wonders if same-sex relationships will ever be acceptable in England, to which Lasker Jones replies "I doubt it. England has always been disinclined to accept human nature."
Maurice and Alec meet at the British Museum in London to discuss the supposed blackmail. It becomes clear that they are in love with each other, and Maurice calls him Alec for the first time.
After another night together, Alec tells Maurice that he is emigrating to Argentina and will not return. Maurice asks Alec to stay with him, and indicates that he is willing to give up his social and financial position, as well as his upper-class status. Alec does not accept the offer. After initial resentment, Maurice decides to bid Alec farewell. He is taken aback when Alec is not at the harbour. In a hurry, he makes for the Durhams' estate, where the two lovers were supposed to have met before at a boathouse. He finds Alec, who assumes Maurice had received the telegram Alec had sent to his residence. Alec had changed his mind, and intends to stay with Maurice, telling him that they "shan't be parted no more".
Maurice visits Clive and outlines what has happened with Alec. Clive is left speechless and unable to comprehend. Maurice leaves to be with Alec, and Clive never sees him again.
In the original manuscripts, Forster wrote an epilogue concerning the post-novel fate of Maurice and Alec that he later discarded, because it was unpopular among those to whom he showed it. This epilogue can still be found in the Abinger edition of the novel. This edition also contains a summary of the differences between various versions of the novel.
The Abinger reprint of the Epilogue retains Maurice's original surname of Hill. (Although this surname had been chosen for the character before Maurice Hill (geophysicist) was even born, it certainly could not be retained once the latter had become a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, Forster's own College. It might, of course, have been changed before that time.)
The epilogue contains a meeting between Maurice and his sister Kitty some years later. Alec and Maurice have by now become woodcutters. It dawns upon Kitty why her brother disappeared. This portion of the novel underlines the extreme dislike that Kitty feels for her brother. The epilogue ends with Maurice and Alec in each other's arms at the end of the day discussing seeing Kitty and resolving that they must move on to avoid detection or a further meeting.
A stage adaptation, written by Roger Parsley and Andy Graham, was produced by SNAP Theatre Company in 1998 and toured the UK, culminating with a brief run at London's Bloomsbury Theatre. Shameless Theatre Company staged another production in 2010 at the Above The Stag Theatre in London. Above the Stag will be staging it again in September/October 2018, as part of the theatre's first season in their new premises. It will be directed by James Wilby. The US premiere opened on 24 February 2012 at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco.
- Miracky, James J. (2003). Regenerating the Novel: Gender and Genre in Woolf, Forster, Sinclair and Lawrence. New York City: Routledge. p. 55. ISBN 0-4159-4205-5.
- Isherwood, Christopher (2010). Katherine Bucknell, ed. The Sixties: Diaries, Volume Two 1960–1969. New York City: HarperCollins. p. 631. ISBN 978-0-06-118019-4.
- Rowse, A. L. (1977). Homosexuals in History: A Study of Ambivalence in Society, Literature, and the Arts. New York City: Macmillan. pp. 282–283. ISBN 0-88029-011-0.
- Forster 1971, p. 236.
- "ATS Theatre: Maurice". Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- "NCTC – Maurice". Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Forster, E. M. Maurice. London: Edward Arnold, 1971.
- Pastore, Stephen R. E. M. Forster: A Study of His Major Novels. Oxford (UK): Oxford University Press, 2001.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Maurice (novel)|
- Maurice plot summary and links at Aspects of E. M. Forster.
- Transvaluing Immaturity: Reverse Discourses of Male Homosexuality in E.M. Forster's Posthumously Published Fiction, Stephen Da Silva, Spring 1998.
- Heroes and Homosexuals: Education and Empire in E. M. Forster, Quentin Bailey, Autumn 2002.
- Roaming the Greenwood, Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books, Vol. 21 No. 2, 21 January 1999.
- Maurice at the British Library