Sunday, 29 July 2012

1st Summer Book Review: 'Maurice' by E.M. Forster

The first book I am going to review in my Summer Book Review list is 'Maurice' by E.M. Forster.  I had already read a Forster book called 'Howards End', and found it really enjoyable.  This is what spurred me on to read 'Maurice'.  E.M. Forster's life spanned 1879 to 1970 and he was 91 when he passed away.  He was homosexual, in a time when gay men could be arrested for 'lewd behavior', and so, although he wasn't closeted, only close friends and family ever really knew about his sexuality.  I believe that it is this difference of character that must of helped Forster to see past some of the social and sexual laws of the day to the very heart of the matter.  For example, in 'Howards End', Forster is able to give the readers representations of female characters who are intelligent, flawed and complex.  That is what is so brilliant about his characters; each of them has their vices.

In 'Maurice', Forster wanted to create a protagonist who is human in every way, and not an idealised character:  "someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad business man and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him."  This 'ingredient' that Forster speaks of is Maurice's homosexuality.  This is partly what sets 'Maurice' apart from many other books of the time.  However, because of the nature of this book, Forster didn't feel he could publish it while he was still alive, so it was only published after his death in 1970.  There were so many things I loved about this novel. I loved how the main character was painted, with an honesty and a sensitivity that is breathtaking to read.  This novel is fairly short and didn't take long to read at all but it is one that will stick with you for a long time afterwards.  The three main characters of this novel are all fascinating.  At no point did I grow tired of any of them, because, although they weren't all pleasant all of the time, each was written with detail and truth.  I think what made me really interested me in his novels was the way in which he wrote.  His writing has a freedom and directness about it, which I felt marked it out from some of his contemporaries.   Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to as many people as possible.  My concluding summary of this novel: a beautiful, English summer romance, with a twist.  5/5

N.B.  There is a brilliant 1987 Adaptation of this novel, starring James Wilby, Hugh Grant, and Rupert Graves, that I would highly recommend to anyone who reads and enjoys the book.

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