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.