Saturday, July 31, 2021

Book Review: "Maurice" by E.M. Forster

One of E.M. Forster's lesser-known novels, Maurice is a classic gay love story that was ahead of its time.

Wait, what? I’m not only reading a backlist title but also a classic? Look at me, expanding my horizons!!

Maurice was written in 1913 and 1914, but Forster (author of A Room with a View and Howard's End, among others) knew that publishing it would destroy his career. He stipulated it couldn’t be released until after he died. It was published in 1971.

While certainly much of the language used in the book is very old-fashioned and some (if not all) if the attitudes around class are different, it’s amazing how ahead of his time Forster was.

This is the story of Maurice, a young man we first meet when he is 14. It follows him through his education and his path toward the life expected of him. But when he strikes up a friendship with a fellow classmate, he realizes how different his life is from what he thought, and how ultimately he needs to follow his own path in order to be happy.

Who would’ve thought you’d ultimately get a gay Edwardian love story with a happy ending, not one where the characters are trapped in marriages of convenience or something worse happens? The movie adaptation of Maurice is wonderful—it was one of the first gay love stories I saw.

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about people reviewing classics long after they were published. While I think it’s difficult to view a classic in a sphere different than the one in which it was written, it’s fascinating to find a book so ahead of its time yet it needed to be hidden until much later.

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