E. M. Forster wrote Maurice early in his writing career and didn’t publish it because of the then-taboo subject matter: homosexuality. The publication of the novel, and the revelation that Forster was gay, happened after his death in 1970.
Maurice is the story of a
young man discovering and coming to terms with his sexuality in the
early 1900s, when homosexuality was not only little understood but also
illegal in England. The novel takes its protagonist from teenage
feelings of difference to collegiate platonic love for another man to
acceptance and planning how to live with his lover unharassed. In a
“terminal note,” Forster said he had to write a happy ending rather
than the expected ending of despair or suicide. Maurice's journey to
acceptance isn't easy — he wanted to be “cured” and even consulted a
hypnotist, which makes for interesting commentary on the mindset
of the era.
Much has improved for young gays and lesbians since Forster wrote Maurice, but it remains relevant:
we can’t claim that society has shed all prejudice, or that all
families are accepting and supportive. Maurice is also relevant to a
broader audience because of its universal theme of a young person's
struggling to find out who he really is.
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