Maurice by E.M. Forster
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
These days we'd probably call this an 'own voice' novel, but there weren't many own voice authors writing about being gay in 1913 which makes this book uniquely fascinating to me.
A central theme, or message, of the book—and the conclusion which Maurice eventually reaches—is that being gay is natural. I was particularly struck by the notion of the 'greenwood' as a place of sanctuary for Maurice. He considers how many men 'like him' had escaped to the greenwood in England's past, a place where they could live naturally--in harmony with both nature and their own nature--rather than being subject to the laws of society. It's also essential for Maurice to strip himself of his class baggage in order to fully embrace his nature—and to, literally, embrace his lover Alec. (Interesting that Forster writes a sexually liberating game keeper over ten years before Lady Chatterley's Lover was published.)
I was also delighted and a little surprised to find the book had a HEA—and, in fact, that Forster had never considered anything else. As a result, some critics have described Maurice as a fairy tale. They’re wrong. Forster dedicated the book to ‘A happier year’ and over a century since it was written, we’ve moved far closer to that happier year than Forster appeared to imagine possible in his Terminal Note written in 1960. That makes me happy—as does the thought of Maurice and Alec together, forever, in the greenwood.
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