Maurice is from the suburbs, from the upper middle classes (dead daddy was a stockbroker), not very bright but very snobbish. He's also gay. This book, written in 1914 but not published until after Forster's death in 1970 (three years after homosexuality was legalised) follows him through Cambridge where his initial passion for the rather more intelligent (and upper class) Clive turns into a three year unconsummated love affair, into a physical relationship with a servant. Lust for the lower classes leads to such self-disgust that he seeks medical advice to cure him of his inversion. Will he accept his true nature or will he live a life of self-denial?
What I especially loved about this book, apart from the usual light touch prose and dialogue at which Forster excels (as in Room with a View, Where Angels Fear to Tread, Passage to India, and Howards End), is the way the characters leap out of their stereotypes. I love the utterly unsympathetic character of Maurice with his stupidity, his suburbanity, and his petty tyrannies over his mother and sisters. I love the servant Alec who, after their initial encounter, tries to lure Maurice back and when that fails (Maurice fears blackmail) threatens him thus realising Maurice's fears. The two of them are beastly to one another and this leads directly to (one presumes) a night of wild passion. Forster knows human beings so well that he can make the reader see their motivations underneath their contradictions.
Even as I was thoroughly disliking the nasty Maurice I was hoping that he would be true to himself and find fulfilment. This is how good Forster is.
October 2014; 218 pages
- Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57