Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Maurice by E.M. Forster (1914, 1970)

"He was surprised their friends did not notice the change, but few undergraduates are observant - they have too much to discover within themselves, and it was a don who remarked that Durham had stopped honeymooning with that Hall person."

I think that this is a definite truism about college students.

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Maurice is definitely not one of Forster's best works.  The first half or so is really wooden; it almost reads like a biography, of someone you don't really care about all that much.  Forster makes it really, really difficult to sympathize or empathize with Maurice Hall.  I don't know if that's because of the 100 years of gay liberation that have passed since the book was written, or that at it's heart, it's just not a very interesting story.  The magic of Howards End and A Room With A View just isn't present here.  One thing that's missing is that in the two I mentioned - and even in A Passage to India, which I don't even like all that much - the minor characters are so well developed, and the setting is so well developed.  That's missing here.  The minor characters feel like props in Maurice.  About half way through, the story picks up speed and loses the biographical feel - once Maurice meets Clive. But I was still sort of bored.

I wonder if Forster cared so much, so deeply, that he couldn't get the emotions and feelings inside of him properly down on paper.

It does include the words SHIT and FUCK, which struck me.

MauriceMaurice by E.M. Forster
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not even close to my favorite Forster, the first half of Maurice is wooden and reads like a biography of someone who is not particularly very interesting.  About midway through - really, when Maurice meets Clive - the book picks up pace.  But by that time, it's really too late to approach the greatness of Howards End or the magic of A Room with a View or even A Passage to India (which, I must admit, isn't one of my favorites either).  Knowing more than a bit about Forster, I realize the book was a brave thing for him to write and share with his friends, and in the Forster canon it Means Something and is Important.  But if you take it out of Forsterology, the novel is a cardboard cutout sort of books, paper dolls standing around doing very little in a disappointingly dull dollhouse.


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