Maurice by E.M. Forster

Maurice cover

Maurice by E.M. Forster was written way back in 1913 and 1914 but it wasn’t actually published until 1971, the year after the author died. The reason for that is the subject matter as no publisher would have dared to publish it when it was written. The blurb on the back says: Maurice is perhaps E.M. Forster’s most poignant exploration of a theme evident in nearly all of his novels, the eternal struggle between passion and convention.

The book begins with Maurice just about to leave his prep school which is set in England in the Edwardian period. As Maurice grows up and goes to Cambridge he realises that he’s attracted to other males and specifically an older student Clive Durham. On the surface Clive is a bit of a maverick, but it only goes so far and having spoken to Maurice about ‘the Greeks’ and having a bit of a crush on each other Clive subsequently pulls away from any physical relationship and seems to grow out of his homosexual tendencies – or just conforms to what is expected of him.

Poor Maurice is bereft, he doesn’t really have any other friends and when he does eventually ‘share’ with a man it’s with a servant that he meets at a country house weekend. Almost immediately Maurice is appalled at the danger that he has put himself in, leaving himself open to blackmail by someone from a lower class. Presumably he thought that as his new friend isn’t a ‘gentleman’ he can’t be trusted.

Visits to a doctor ensue with Maurice hoping for some sort of cure, but the doctor ends up advising him to go and live in France or Italy where they don’t have a law against homosexuality.

This is a good read and I can only think that the people on various places on the internet who complain that Forster should have been brave and published it when he wrote it back in 1913-14 have no idea what life was like for homosexual men back then and don’t know what happened to Oscar Wilde.

Guardian Links

You might be interested in these links from today’s Review section in the Guardian:

There’s a Penelope Lively interview by Susanna Rustin which you can see here.

I was also interested in this article – Do we read differently as we get older? by Julian Barnes which you can see here.

Pitlochry Bookshop

We had a close look at the weather forecast this morning and decided it was good enough to sashay up to the wee Highland town of Aberfeldy to go for a good walk up the Birks of Aberfeldy, more about that at a later date, but you can see images of it here.

It ended up being a gorgeous day up there and on the way back we decided to veer off to Pitlochry, mainly because I had heard that there was a bookshop in one of the railway station buildings. In fact we discovered that you have to go on to the station platform to get into the shop which presumably used to be offices or a waiting room or some such thing. You really have to know that it’s there as you will never stumble across it, unless you’re getting off a train.

There was a display of hardback books from the Reprint Society right at the door so I wasn’t even in there two seconds before I had a couple of books in my hands and in the end I took books to the counter to pay for them. The sales assistant called me ‘madam’ – I’m never sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, it makes me feel old anyway.

However, he was very impressed with my haul of books and he gave me a discount despite them already being ridiculously cheap compared with other secondhand bookshops. I felt quite bad about that as I think the proceeds go to a local charity.

So what did I buy this time?

1. The Edge of the Cloud by K.M Peyton
2. Flambards in Summer by K.M.Peyton
3. Flambards Divided by K.M. Peyton
I loved the first Flambards book, they were published by Puffin aimed at older children I suppose but I only got to know about the books after watching Flambards on TV in 1979 and that was not a children’s programme. I’ve already read the first book in the series.

4. The Rider of the White Horse by Rosemary Sutcliff
5. The Willow Cabin by Pamela Frankau
6. The Battle of the Villa Fiorita by Rumer Godden
7. This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart
8. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
9. Peak Country by Joseph E. Morris which is an A&C Black book from their Beautiful Britain series. 1914.

Not a bad haul I think you’ll agree. I really do have to concentrate on my own books now!