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Maurice: A Novel Paperback – December 17, 2005
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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.
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Top customer reviews
It's difficult to say something really meaningful about a book like this, because more educated people can obviously be more eloquent and sensitive. I'll talk about three recurring thoughts:
Loneliness. This was what struck me about Maurice and what I think was the sentiment he felt more deeply than any other. Maurice doesn't have a likeable personality, not at first. He's not the brightest or the most sympathetic of people, but he is sensual, affectionate and yearning. Being alone, not being able to express his passion and feeling doomed to not share it with anyone, all his qualities and quirks made him a young man for whom I cared. His inner pain was sincere and made him deserving of love, because he wanted it so much. I felt that he was probably the character with the most romantic soul in the book.
This story was clearly dear to Forster and I think this was both a strength and a limit. In the Final Notes of the book it becomes clear that the author was trying to write original characters loosely related to people he had met, probably more the secondary characters than the protagonists. Sometimes though I had the impression that Forster didn't want to immerse himself too deeply in them, that he was trying to reach a balance between what he knew, what he lived, what he was creating, therefore there was sometimes a detachment that made me think we were only allowed to see participate in the outer appearance of events, but not really penetrate them.
The ending is not the perfect happy-ever-after, but it has a strong feeling of affirmation that satisfied me. I felt that we were abandoning Maurice when his life was really beginning, but it was also a metaphor of what gay people did at the time: disappearing into the greenwood and trying to live their lives without attracting too much attention. Maurice, who is so average among his peers since the beginning, is very brave at the end, not in the sense that he outs himself to the world - which was impossible at the time - but in the sense that he is ready to sacrifice a lot to be himself.
Maurice is a young man who grows up in England before World War I realizing he is different from other men. He discovers he is attracted to other men and - like many others in his circumstances - goes through a rough time reconciling himself with this fact. While in school at Cambridge, he meets Clive whom he quickly finds out is of a similar nature. The two men have a short-lived romance that's almost entirely platonic, as dictated by Clive. Left forlorn, Maurice continues to struggle with his own nature and even consults physicians about what can be done to make him attracted to women, a condition which Maurice still associates with normalcy. Eventually he meets Alec, a gay man who is in some ways more comfortable with himself but at the same time seems more willing to deny his nature. The two men challenge one another's thinking and ultimately have a huge effect on each other's futures.